Plant Mirror Reflection

Heart Rate Variability

In simple terms when we breathe in our heart rate speeds up and when we breathe out it slows down, the difference between these two rates is called Heart Rate Variability.

Emotions and heart rate variability

We know that emotions affect our heart rate for example, when are feeling anxious or stressed our heart rate speeds up however in this instance it does not slow down as much when we breathe out as our body produces adrenalin which keeps our heart rate fast so we can react quickly (fight or flight) if needed. In this instance we could say we have low variability and often we find it very hard to calm down as our body still thinks there is a threat.

When this system developed in our bodies the threat might have been a very obvious external threat such as a sabre tooth tiger or a storm. Nowadays it can be generated internally through our anxiety around pain, our fear of the unknown or worries about past events. Our bodies do not know the difference between a real external threat or an imagined internal threat and so they give us the same chemicals (Adrenalin and Cortisol) and if the threat is not understood, avoided or resolved then our body continues to give us the chemicals.

Calming down

Just as our bodies have chemicals to activate us in times of threat, they also have chemicals that calm us down otherwise we would never rest or sleep and recover.

How does Heart Rate variability Bio-feedback help?

When we use heart rate variability we use a bio-feedback programme on the computer that measures the changes in your heart rate (between your in breath and out breath),so we can clearly see when you have good variability (calm emotional state) or low variability (e.g. anxious, depressed, angry) states.

While you are connected to the program, I will teach you a number of ways to bring yourself back to a calm high variability state and importantly when you return to the calm state your body will start healing.


As I said earlier your body cannot recognise between a real or imagined threat so knowing that, we can use the bio-feedback to practice getting back to the calm healing state faster and faster and you can see it happening on the screen and feel it in your body.

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Plant Mirror Reflection
Image by Yusuf Evli