Heart-focused attention and heart-brain synchronization: Energetic and physiological mechanisms

Linda Z.Y.X. Song, Gary E.R. Schwartz, Linda G.S. Russek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context • Many relaxation, meditation, and imagery techniques that implicitly or explicitly involve focused attention on the body, including qigong, massage, and noncontact therapeutic touch, purportedly employ energetic and physiological mechanisms. Objective • To show that, from a perspective of dynamical energy systems, relaxed self-attention enhances connectivity between the brain and body. This enhanced connectivity may be achieved by at least 2 mechanisms: (1) physiological mechanisms employing peripheral negative feedback loops, and (2) bioelectromagnetic mechanisms involving direct energetic resonance between the peripheral organ and the brain. Design • 19 channels of electroencephalogram, 1 electrocardiogram, and 2 channels of electro-oculogram were recorded from 22 subjects who focused their attention on their heartbeats or eye movements, with and without kinesthetic (touch) biofeedback to increase somatic awareness. Results • Analyses of the electroencephalogram synchronized with the electrocardiogram revealed significant effects for heart-focused attention, primarily with touch biofeedback, following the contraction of the ventricles (possibly reflecting increased baroreceptor and somatosensory feedback); and significant effects for heart-focused attention, with and without touch biofeedback, preceding the contraction of the ventricles (possibly reflecting direct electromagnetic interactions between the heart and the brain). Conclusions • These findings suggest that energetic and physiological mechanisms may be involved in techniques in which the goal is to promote mind-body integration and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-62
Number of pages19
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Volume4
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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