The Heartmath Institute believes that the heart communicates directly with the brain and influences the brain via the nervous system. Negative emotions can lead to a discordance in heart rhythm which in turn adversely affects the rest of the body. Positive emotions create harmony in heart rhythm which in turn positively affects the rest of the body. The Heartmath institute believes they can teach people to control their heart rhythm which in turn leads to an ability to reduce stress and cope with difficult situations and decisions.
And the parts that are most relevant to us:
1. The heart directly affects the amygdala and has as high concentrations of oxytocin as the brain
2. One study showed that a Heartmath intervention led to reduced cortisol in a sample of people
3. When people touch or are in close proximity one person’s heartbeat signal is registered in the other person’s brain. The more coherent heartbeat tends to be stronger. This is interesting because of back-riding I think and also just the general premise that if we respond to a child (or horses) stress with calmness they are much more likely to calm down themselves than if we respond with stress.