A new study by HeartMath provides evidence that
the heart responds to future events and indicates women
may be naturally more attuned to their intuition.
The phone rings and the person calling is an old high
school friend who you were just thinking about the day
before. You spontaneously decide to take a different
route home and later find out that your usual route
was closed due to a big rig accident. What a coincidence!
Or is it? Were those happenings coincidences or were
you, unknowingly, exercising intuition?
Intuition has often been thought of as a mysterious
sixth sense. However, a new research study conducted
by the Institute of HeartMath (http://www.heartmath.org)
helps to solve some of the mysteries that surround intuition,
revealing the role the heart plays in processing and
decoding intuitive information.
We've all heard of a mother who feels the need to check
on her young son, only to find that he has left the
yard and wandered into the street. Many of us have had
our own intuitive experiences, yet there has been a
longstanding dilemma in the scientific community over
whether intuition is based on memory of a past experience,
or whether it involves an actual perception of something
that lies ahead.
Dr. Rollin McCraty, Director of Research for the Institute
of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California, directed
a recent scientific study that examined physiological
indicators of intuitive perception. The study
sought to test whether we somehow receive information
about a future event before it happens, and, if so,
to determine where and when in the brain and body the
intuitive information is processed.
HeartMath researchers found that we can actually
be aware of an event five to seven seconds before it
happens. In the recent study, subjects were
shown a series of images. Most of the images were peaceful
and calming, such as landscapes, trees and cute animals.
Other photos, randomly dispersed in the succession,
included violent, disturbing and emotionally stimulating
images such as car crash, a bloody knife or a snake
about to strike. The subjects were monitored during
the viewing for changes in respiration, skin conductance,
EEG (brain waves), ECG (electrocardiogram) and heart
rate variability. Participants' physiological
indicators registered an emotional response five to
seven seconds before an emotionally disturbing image
would appear on the viewing screen.
The main findings show that the heart receives
and responds to intuitive information. Significant changes
in heart rate variability occurred prior to disturbing
and emotionally stimulating images appearing on the
screen, compared to calm and serene images appearing.
The fact that the heart is involved in the perception
of future external events is an astounding result. The
classical perspective assigns the brain an exclusive
role in information processing. This study opens
the door to new understandings about intuition and suggests
that intuition is a system-wide process involving at
least both the heart and the brain working together
to decode intuitive information.
Another noteworthy finding of the study was the fact
that there were significant gender differences. Women
appeared to have a greater sensitivity to future emotional
stimuli. Female participants demonstrated a significant
heart rate variability pre-stimulus response, whereas
the males' pre-stimulus response was smaller. McCraty
says, "Based on our study and other research findings,
we believe that the greater the emotional significance
of a future event to the individual, the larger the
intuitive response will be prior to the actual experience
of that event."
The heart has been regarded as a conduit for wisdom
beyond our normal awareness by virtually all human cultures,
ancient and modern. HeartMath believes the greatest
significance of this study lies in the finding that
the heart is directly involved in the processing of
McCraty says, "To our knowledge, this is the first
study to measure the heart's connection with intuitive
perception, and this implies that the brain does not
act alone in this regard. This is an important finding
that may open the door to larger scientific studies
and greater understanding of the heart's role in human
perception and behavior."
Intuitive perception plays an important role in everyday
decision-making in areas such as business, medical diagnosis,
law enforcement, playing sports, choosing relationships,
driving defensively, mothering a child and teaching
students. If the heart is playing such an important
role in intuitive perception, then learning to attune
ourselves more to how we feel -- or acknowledging our
heart promptings -- could help to increase our ability
to draw on our intuitive awareness.
The Institute of HeartMath was founded by Doc Childre
in 1991. For over a decade, the Institute of HeartMath
has conducted leading-edge research on the relationship
between the heart and brain and the ways in which this
relationship affects physical, mental and emotional
health and human performance.
Based on this research, the Institute of HeartMath
has developed a system of scientifically validated tools
and technology to help people reduce stress and improve
health, learning, performance and quality of life. HeartMath's
research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed
journals and is regularly presented at psychological
and biomedical research conferences both nationally