HeartMath book reviews
The HeartMath Solution by Doc Childre and Howard Martin with Donna Beech (1999)
Paperback, Published by HarperOne (www.HarperOne.com)
The HeartMath Solution combines the underpinning theory and research behind the HeartMath system of reducing stress and living a more coherent life, with self-help style instructions on how to turn theory into practice.
In HeartMath the heart is considered to be a source of intelligence and wisdom, alongside but more reliable than brain intelligence in developing a lifestyle in which stress and negative emotions no longer cause harm. The authors back up their practice with scientific research and short case stories or real life examples of how others have been helped through HeartMath.
Explaining heart intelligence, in the introduction the authors state, “One of the exciting aspects of life at the cusp of the new century is that people are sensing the possibility of a merger between science and spirit … [and] …. the heart is the doorway to this union.” And “… our theory is that the heart links us to a higher intelligence through an intuitive domain where spirit and humanness merge.”
However, although the exercises and practice of HeartMath have not changed, the fact that the book was originally written in 1999 gives a dated feel to the writing and presentational style that does not necessarily do the program justice in the 21st Century. A badly needed second edition would also give the developers of HeartMath the opportunity to provide more recent research evidence.
Transforming Stress by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman (2005)
Paperback, Published by New Harbinger Publications, Oakland
Published just six years later this book has a more modern feel to it and is part of what has become a series of books from the HeartMath Institute. “Transforming Stress” gives a good background to the causes and consequences of stress while slowly introducing the HeartMath principles and techniques used to deal with stress and learn how to prevent stress from becoming a problem.
The authors state: The key to transforming stress lies in your power to regulate your emotions and perceptions. That power comes from your heart. You can learn how to engage your heart rhythms to manage your emotions and perceptions….. You don’t manage the situation, …. you manage your reaction to it, gaining a new feeling with new insight about how to best approach the stressful situation even as it is occurring. (p.18)
The first and foundational technique begins with learning to ‘breathe’ through your heart, aligning the rhythms of your heart to your other physical systems in order to access the natural intelligence or brain of the heart. The authors state: this entire book is about building inner security through aligning with the intelligence of your heart. Various short case stories or real life examples demonstrate how others have been helped through achieving this and the subsequent techniques.
Whether or not you practice the specific HeartMath techniques this book provides some useful exercises as well as general information about the development and impact of stress that makes it a useful addition to any library.