Frequently Asked Questions
* Advisory notes on the development of the ICC concepts:
Q: What is the difference between the CardioGem and the "HeartMath"?
A: HeartMath's EM-Wave technology (now also available as app), is for basic stress release by rewarding regular breathing, measured via the heart rate (beat-intervals). This is called physiological coherence. The CardioGem of TrigunaMedia measures and entrains emotional coherence through the harmonic inclusiveness of the full Heart Rate Variability spectrum, along with the power of focused attention through Internal Cardiac Coherence of the ECG. This is psycho-physiological coherence. While being an independend development of TrigunaMedia, the principle of deep inner coherence was signalled and scientifically described by Institute of HeartMath (IHM) as "enhanced psychological states of quiessence and self-management". IHM fully endorses the applications of TrigunaMedia.
Q: Is Internal Cardiac Coherence scientifically evidenced?
A: Yes. There is published research, as well as a broad spectrum of theoretical and philosophical literature supporting the principles and claims of Internal Cardiac Coherence:
- In hindsight, the research and development of the CardioGem builds upon published research of Institute of HeartMath (IHM) in the mid '90's. IHM choose not to pursue that line of research because:
a) with the that time available backgounds they were not able to fully understand the psycho-physiological basis;
b) the available processing power was not sufficient for professional (diagnostic / biofeedback) applications, and
c) anyway their focus was on a tool for stress release, rather than on the more advanced emotional / mental entraining they themselves referred to as "psychological states of deep quiessence and advanced self-management". These terms have proven to accurately identify and describe the emotional and mental states diagnosed and entrained with the CardioGem (see also next points). A decade of further theoretical and practical research, field experience and user feedback with the CardioGem fully corroborate these fundamental and powerful principles of psycho-physiology.
New Electrophysiological Correlates Associated With Intentional Heart Focus; R. McCraty, M. Atkinson, W. A. Tiller, G. Rein; Subtle Energies 1995;4(3):251-262.
The Coherent Heart; Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, Dana Tomasino, and Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D.; E-book monograph, Institute of Heart Math, 2006
All research on heartmath.org
- Studies on various types of meditation, practiced in different ancient and modern schools and traditions, led to the following classifications:
- "Focused attention" (example: Tibetan Buddhist loving-kindness-compassion; Josipovic et al.)
- "Open monitoring" (example: Buddhist Vipassana)
- "Automatic self-transcendence", further specified as:
- Mental / cognitive auto-transcendence (Maharishi, TM; Travis et al.)
- Empathic / devotional auto-transcendence (Ananda Marga; Gurukula)
Allthough Internal Cardiac Coherence (ICC) biofeedback training is not the same as meditation, it has the characteristics of auto-transcendence. That is, ICC does not require focusing on an object of contemplation, nor developing the inner stance of "observer". It does however:
a) provide an incentive, in effect akin to the use of mantra (acoustic roots) for auto-transcendence, to transport the mind into its essential, undifferentiated state (in this case referred to as internal coherence), and
b) provide for the empathic as well as emotional types of transcendence
This means that ICC biofeedback training combines the TRIPPLE BENEFITS of :
- Auto-transcendence in the first place, which (arguably) is the most effective and transformative type of meditation,
- BOTH types of auto-transcendence, or in IHM terms: deep emotional quiescence and advanced self-management, and
- It does not need to be learned. Biofeedback is instantaneous, effortless and effective and needs no other skills than the readiness to follow the biofeedback cue and enjoy the feeling.
- Contemporary, groundbreaking theory in the field of psycho-physiology (P.R. Sarkar, microvita theory). This applies to the meditative as well as ICC methods of auto-transcendence. Specifically, Sarkar proposed a systematic, self-reinforcing approach, where the internal power gained by emotional coherence, is looped back as input for the cognitive plane, and vice versa.
- Anchient wisdom, specifically the Sankhya sutra's of Kapilla, part of, or at least contemporary of the Vedic traditions. Allthough applying to cosmology, and on a somewhat more technical footing, it bears very close resemblence to Sarkar's work. Specifically, Kapilla identified fundamental operational modes of the so called "Guna's" (primordial creative principles), which can almost one-to-one be translated to the coherent sub-wave spectra of heart- and brain psycho-physiology.
- Research by Frank vd Bovenkamp. Frank discovered how the interacting sub-wave geometries described in Vedic sources and detectible in coherent heart- and brain spectra, can accurately predict the frequencies of the primary colors, thus providing evidence working both ways.
Josipovic, Z. (2010). Duality and nonduality in meditation research. Elsevier Journal for Consciousness and Cognition, 2010, www.elsevier.com/locate/concog.
Kozhevnikov, M., Louchakova, O., Josipovic, Z. & Motes, M.A. (2009). The enhancement of visuospatial processing efficiency through Buddhist deity meditation. Journal of the Association of Psychological Sciences, 2009.
Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 163-169.
Travis, F. (2011). Comparison of coherence, amplitude, and eLORETA patterns during transcendental meditation and TM-Sidhi practice. International Journal of Psychophysiology, (in press)
Travis, F., Pearson, C. (2000). Pure Consciousness: distinct phenomenological and physiological correlates of "consciousness itself". International Journal for Neuroscience, 2000, Vol. 100, 77-98
Travis, F., Shear, C. (2010). Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions. Elsevier Journal for Consciousness and Cognition, 2010, www.elsevier.com/locate/concog.
Q: Sometimes, during biofeedback, whatever I try, I can't get the bubble go any higher. Instead of creating a feeling of relief and blissfulness, it makes me feel frustrated. What do I do wrong?
A: The problem is that you try to "control" or "influence" certain results. Maybe even you think
that you have certain "techniques" that could instantaneously increase Internal Coherence.
It doesn't work that way. Instead of controlling ICC, ICC controls you. Therefore, the good way
to do ICC biofeedback is to let you guide wherever it takes you. That is, not the program of course,
but the system of your inner consciousness. That doesn't mean that you're entirely passive either,
your wakefulness is required, but in a relaxed, not in a controlling way. Be mindful of how it feels
when your ICC increases, versus when it decreases, and appreciate BOTH as the feedback-learning curve to let ICC guide you in your life. Don't expect instant uforia - it may work beautifully and maybe even unexpectedly
for you, but the benefits of ICC biofeedback make take a short while to be felt and appreciated. Also remember that "high ICC" as such is not the ultimate goal - rather, the goal is to optimally integrate ICC in your life, which is
indicated by the "Dynamic Index" scale! Additional note: the "Caducceus Breathing Trainer" (available in the diagnostic screen under Tools),
can be used to achieve a short-term high ICC effect, which can be used as a starting point and
baseline for actual biofeedback.
Q: Can Internal Cardiac Coherence biofeedback replace meditation?
A: That is not it's purpose. Meditation has many different traditions which alone gives a tremendous social and cultural support and motivation. Because of this, and in most cases anyway, it is likely to be a more personal experience than biofeedback. However not all types of meditation and all social environments are always ideal or practical for everyone. In the case of biofeedback, being devoid of social, cultural etc. context, that is, free of mindset and agenda, free of expectations, free of (radical) lifestyle changes, can be a major advantage. Also, for those who find it difficult to integrate meditation in their daily routine, ICC can be a great help, or a great start. The idea is not to become attached to a machine, but to get in touch with the principles, and make it your own.
Q: Do I need to study a lot in order to be able to make the maximum use of ICC diagnosis and training?
A: No, certainly not in a scholarly manner. A truly open mind, and generally your personal competence as a therapist or coach are by far the most important aspects of the use of ICC in your practice. It is important though to understand what it means, and how powerful it can be to be able to work directly with the transpersonal or supra-mental states which lie at the root of actual, personal psychology. This needs some study of the theory and backgrounds, and the openness to actually integrate this in the way how you deal with clients. Even without the actual diagnostic and training tool, this alone can be a great help to create a lucid understanding of the essential psycho-physiology of emotional coherence, pure intentionality, etc...
Q: You say that your system is "not based on achieving targets" - what do you mean by that, and does CardioGem biofeedback support other systems that are focused on achieving targets?
A: Of course the "target" is making progress through emotional and mental synthesis. But this should not be the "CEO" / performance / achievement type of psychology. It's rather a gentle psycho-spiritual approach - tuning your entire being into the long wave of Life.. That does not mean there is no challenge though - but the challenge is not purely individualistic, and not purely externalized, and certainly not based on an acquisitive mentality of any kind. Also, it is a positive approach, i.e. not like most systems based on dealing with disorders (like stress or specific mental problems) - CardioGem biofeedback is truly unique in that it is based on a non-specific, positive formulation of pyscho-physiological health.. that is, the wave matrix of life, or internal coherence. In that sense it could be combined with other techniques - i.e. after you have focused on dealing with a specific disorder, you can work on integral coherence.
Q: What advantages does internal heartcoherence have compared to Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?
A: HRV and heartcoherence are two very different concepts, allthough both relate to the heart and to health and wellness. HRV is clinically acknowledged as a basic health and longevity predictor. Generally one can say, low HRV means low health. The HRV spectrum is devided in a high frequency (HF) and low frequency (LF) range, which are generally believed to represent respectively the sympathetic and parasympathetic output of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This is called the (HF/LF) autonomic balance. This type of diagnostics was greatly refined by HeartMath, however their method in essence rests on the same principle. Internal heart (or cardiac-) coherence consists of Internal Caridac Coherence (ICC, measured through the ECG) and Harmonic Inclusiveness of the HRV spectrum. These are the two aspects of internal coherence, directly related to "enhanced psychological states of quiessence and self-management" (IMH) and individual competences respectively. The CardioGem offers HRV diagnostics as well as ICC diagnostics and biofeedback.
Q: What kind of psychological states does heartcoherence refer to?
A: Internal Cardiac Coherence is not a psychological state per sé. Rather, heartcoherence, and in the broader sense all internal coherence, is the source of, and motor behind all psychological activity and hence, all personal experience. It is the inspiration and motivation behind all mental and emotional activity. As such, internal coherence by itself could be seen as a transpersonal or supramental state. Ultimately, it is what distinguishes life from the non-living, from dna, to cells, to organisms, to ecosystems. In terms of psycho-physiology, the states directly associated with increasing coherence are emotional coherence on the one hand (empathy, connectedness, communication, synergy, inspiration, morivation) and mental coherence on the other hand (individual focus, commitment, cognitive powers like logic, discernment, organizing skills and other competences). In their early research, Institute of Heart Math referred to these states as "deep quiescence" and "advanced self-management". With respect to actual heartcoherence, both aspects (i.e. the shared vs. individual psychology) are balanced and evolve equally. The brain however can choose between being either more empathic, or more personally focused, and thus explore and experience other aspects of life, especially free will. A universal approach dynamically combining both aspects of internal coherence was given by the Indian teacher P.R. Sarkar. View the diagram here.
Q: Does Internal Cardiac Coherence (ICC) directly relate to brain coherence?
A: Yes. To work with heart-brain coherence, the traditional idea "heart means feeling and brain means logic" must be broadened, in that the heart also has its own logic (individual intent, determination, commitment) and the brain is also empathic (inspiration, creativity, building group synergy). Thus there are two cross-links between the heart and the brain, which also correspond to the left- and right Vagus nerves and to the two aspects of heart coherence (Harmonic Inclusiveness of the HRV spectrum, and ICC of the ECG). Improving heart-brain coherence, for example through biofeedback, essentially means increasing one's capacity to pursue and realize one's vision. It is the biological manifestation of Sarkar's approach.
Q: Being a therapist or trainer, how do I interpret CardioGem results in terms of practical psychology or advise?
A: It is important to have familiarized yourself with the concept of ICC / Harmonic Inclusiveness. Not only theoretically from reading, but also intuitively by practice. Like with everything, practical experience is needed to get skillful with the CardioGem. Best is to first build personal experience, then you work e.g. with friends and family i.e. people you know well, and then professionally with clients or patients. The psychological meaning and implications of Harmonic Inclusiveness and Internal Cardiac Coherence are explained throughout this website, and summarized in the self-reinforcing cycle of psycho-physiological coherence, here. The step-wise evaluation of a CardioGem session and real life examples can be found here.
Q: I'm testing the CardioGem DEMO. The ICC history update seems different from the actual ICC peak. Is something wrong?
A: No. This is a result of the averaging. The averaging smoothes out the history to bring up the larger trends. In the main menu, under Settings - History, you can adjust the averaging interval and set it to zero. Then the history samples exactly match the ICC levels. Note that the same applies to the heart rate.