No… a bit maybe… it depends what you mean
The word Mindfulness has become very popular and its definition has become very broad. Wikipedia defines it as “… the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”
Here are some of the differences between HeartMath and mindfulness.
- HeartMath techniques are designed to be used in the moment, with eyes open, especially during challenging and stressful experiences.
- HeartMath techniques create coherence. Coherence is not relaxation, it is a state of balance within the body and brain (specifically within the autonomic nervous system or ANS). This state is much more appropriate for many of the activities we perform during the day and coherence (balance) can be achieved with both high and low heart rates. For example, you can be coherent in a game of tennis as you prepare to return serve (relatively high heart rate) and you can be coherent as you sit and listen to a friend who is having a hard time (relatively low heart rate). Mindfulness promotes a relaxation response within the ANS. That is hugely beneficial, and we advocate that people practice mindfulness too, but it is not often appropriate or even possible to practice mindfulness during many of the events of our daily lives. It tends to be something you make time for during your day. HeartMath is designed to be practiced as you navigate the highs and lows and ups and downs of your day.
- Most HeartMath techniques are designed to help you to actively engage in a situation, problem or challenge but from the more balanced and objective state of coherence. Coherence is, therefore, a high-performance state. Mindfulness tends to promote disassociation, non-judgement and observation. Again, this is a very useful skill, but not always appropriate or possible when you need to make decisions, solve problems, engage in objective thinking and navigate challenging communications and relationships.
- HeartMath promotes a specific breathing pattern, a focus on the heart area and the intentional shift into a positive/pleasant emotion conducive to the situation you are in. Mindfulness promotes attention on breath but not control of it, and observation of emotion but not direction of it.
- The focus on intentionally shifting emotions in HeartMath has a direct impact on hormones. For example, positive/pleasant emotions like care, appreciation and compassion tend to stimulate the production of both Oxytocin (which buffers the stress response) and DHEA (the “vitality hormone” which helps the body to recover and repair itself). Mindfulness does not impact hormones in this way.
- HeartMath uses biofeedback as an objective measure and way to practice and validate the impact of the techniques. Mindfulness does not generally utilise biofeedback.