After reading the book Transforming Anger, I decided to purchase a portable bio feedback device called “emWave”. The writer of the book helped develop this device using studies in HRV (Heart rate variability) and coined what is known as “HeartMath”. Apparently, when we think and recall positive experiences our heart and nervous system sync with each other producing a smooth sine wave output or as they say “good coherence”.
The idea behind the freeze frame technique is to “freeze” a good feeling or experience and to recall this feeling in times of stress, or anxiety.
By doing this, you cause the sympathetic and non sympathetic parts of your nervous system to achieve balance lowering the production of nasty chemicals that damage your heart or increase blood pressure.
I went to the HeartMath website and ordered the portable EmWave machine to provide visual feedback of my heart rate variability. The device works by clipping the heart rate monitor to your ear (or you can put your finger on the red sensor strip) and breathing according to the flashing lights. When good coherence is achieved you see a blue light for good, red light for bad, and green for excellent coherence
To achieve this, you have to breathe slowly and most importantly, recall those good feelings you once experienced and draw that energy around your heart area… You can do this without the feedback device but I thought it might be nice to see if I am actually affecting anything.
The blue plastic unit was attractive in a high tech way and was small enough to fit in my pants pocket. The Emwave uses a built in rechargeable battery and the battery life was never an issue since I plugged the unit in at night. It came with a CD, carrying case (which I did not use) and an earclip sensor. I found the earclip sensor to be more accurate and easier to use. The finger sensor built into the unit was a little fiddly and worked best when I was very still.
I used the Emwave for about 30 days even at work. I mainly used the ear sensor instead of the red finger sensor. It seemed to work well especially when I thought about happy events in my life. The lights went from red to blue to green. It seemed to help me feel a little more relaxed and happier about life in general… Of course, you can’t expect an electronic device to change your life but I think reliving good experiences probably helps condition your mind to react in calmer, thoughtful ways when you encounter stressful situations.
Essentially this unit is a high tech mood ring that measures heart rate variability and displays the results as colors:
- A red light indicates low coherence which would be normal.
- A blue light indicates medium coherence which shows good improvement
- A green light indicates high coherence the optimal high performance, stress-free state.
I eventually returned the unit because I realized that I could achieve these results myself by simply slowing my breathing and recalling good experiences in my head. However, if you are not very disciplined or live a busy lifestyle it would probably be a worthwhile purchase.