Cardiac Coherence: What is & How to Use It

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Written by
| Updated on
July 3, 2023
Reviewed by parenting expert
Cardiac coherence refers to a state of physiological harmony.

What you’ll learn

Cardiac coherence can help you to regain control over your emotions in stressful moments. Stress can be overwhelming, whether it's the challenges of caring for children, working, or the stress of everyday life. Let's talk about cardiac coherence. Cardiac coherence is a scientific term for becoming aware of your heartbeat and breathing. By learning how to use this technique, you can experience increased relaxation and tranquility.
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What is cardiac coherence?

Cardiac coherence, also known as heart coherence or heart rhythm coherence, refers to a state of physiological harmony achieved through controlled breathing techniques. It involves synchronizing your breathing pattern with the natural rhythm of your heart, relaxing your body and calming your mind.

The history of this breathing exercise dates back to the early 1990s when Dr. David O’Hare, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist, began researching the connection between the heart and the mind. Building upon the work of the HeartMath Institute, he discovered that by aligning the breath with the heart’s natural rhythm, individuals could achieve a coherent state, leading to a range of physical, emotional, and mental benefits.

Benefits of cardiac coherence breathing

·  Reduced Stress and Anxiety. This type of breathing triggers the relaxation response in your body, effectively reducing stress and anxiety levels. By regulating your heart rate and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, it promotes a sense of relaxation and serenity. The parasympathetic system is the system that controls functions such as digestion, heart rate, and breathing when we are in a calm state. 

·  Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus. When you synchronize breathing with cardiac rhythm, you experience improved cognitive function, increased mental clarity, and enhanced focus. This can be particularly helpful when faced with demanding tasks or during moments that require more attention.

·  Improved Emotional Regulation. Coherent heart rate pattern stimulates emotional balance by regulating the autonomic nervous system. It helps you handle emotions better, improving emotional intelligence and fostering healthier relationships. One study demonstrated that this technique improves wellness and well-being in various people, including trauma survivors, by enhancing self-regulatory capacity and vagal tone. Vagal tone refers to the activity of the vagus nerve, which is a long nerve that connects your brain to various organs in your body, including your heart. Vagal tone is an indicator of how well your body’s relaxation response is functioning.

·  Decreased Appetite. This is due to its ability to curb cravings and provide support for those struggling with emotional eating.

How cardiac coherence helps you to be a better parent?

As a parent, it is necessary to be present, patient, and emotionally available for your children. Incorporating this method into your daily routine can have a major impact on your parenting abilities.

Picture this: It’s the end of a long day and you are tired. Your child throws a tantrum at the supermarket, testing your patience. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, you take a deep breath and engage in cardiac coherence, allowing the technique to ground you in the present moment. As you exhale slowly, you feel a sense of calm wash over you, empowering you to respond with empathy. It becomes a tool to navigate strong emotions, bringing a sense of clarity and peace to your parenting journey.

When you are in a state of cardiac coherence, you radiate a sense of inner calm and peace. This energy can positively influence your interactions with your children, fostering a deeper connection and understanding between you and them. It strengthens the parent-child bond and promotes a harmonious family dynamic.

How to practice Cardiac Coherence

Here’s how it works: inhale deeply for 5 seconds, then exhale for another 5 seconds. Repeat this simple breathing pattern for just 5 minutes, and you’ll be amazed at the results! For optimal results, like Dr. O’Hare suggests, aim to practice this exercise three times a day, spacing them out every 4 hours or even more frequently. Consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to practice until it becomes a natural part of your routine.

To make this easier for you, we provide both a video guide for practicing heart coherence breathing while seated, and an audio guide. With the video guide, you can effortlessly engage in the breathing exercises while sitting down, allowing you to focus and align your breath with ease. Alternatively, the audio guide offers you the flexibility to practice these beneficial breathing methods during various daily activities such as driving, grocery shopping, or even when soothing your child to sleep. Choose the format that suits your lifestyle and seamlessly incorporate cardiac coherence into your everyday routine.

Enjoy the benefits of cardiac coherence, the scientifically-backed breathing technique that can unlock ultimate relaxation for your brain in just 5 minutes. Supported by elite military teams, high-performing athletes, and top-ranked schools, this skill is the ultimate anti-stress tool you need as a parent. Best of all, it’s free, takes just a few minutes of your time, and immediately lowers your cortisol levels for an incredible 4 hours. Don’t miss out on this game-changing method to reclaim your peace of mind and unlock a calmer, more centered version of yourself. Try it today and experience the difference for yourself!

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Patrick Ney
Lead Trainer at All About Parenting
Patrick Ney

Patrick Ney is a Neurodevelopmental Specialist who has been working with parents at All About Parenting for 5 years. He is husband to Maja and father to 2 beautiful daughters, Zofia and Mia. Patrick joined All About Parenting, determined to become a better parent before becoming a Certified Trainer. To date, he has run over 1000 workshops, events, and masterclasses for more than 100,000 parents.

Patrick is certified in a range of other methodologies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and the HANDLE Methodology for neurodiverse children. He is a Certified DIR Floortime Practitioner and has been described as a ‘natural born play therapist.’ Patrick bases his work with parents on neuroscience, studying Applied Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. Patrick has appeared as a TEDx speaker, and his first book, ‘The Storm: How To Stop Shouting At Your Kids’ will be published in Autumn 2022.

But more than anything else, Patrick is a father. His love for his daughters has led him on a journey to being a better dad for his girls and sharing that story with other parents. His work inspires thousands of parents to start learning parenting, and he shares both his successes and his many failures.

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