The scientific evidence of the benefits created by our mutual sharing of love with our pets has been studied and proven by the HeartMath Institute.
Even as average pet owners and pet lovers, we have all experienced the happiness a “smiling” animal induces, warming our hearts and melting away the troubles of a sometimes, hectic day. And, we have all read the inspiring stories of how animals contribute as service dogs, or horses, heal wounded vets and prisoners, calm patients in hospitals and help those with PTSD to recover their emotional balance. Dogs create tremendously close bonds with those in the military and in law enforcement whose lives they’ve protected and saved.
The HeartMath Institute has been researching heart rate variability, coherence and their impacts on health for many years. They’ve been measuring how our electromagnetic fields (EMFs), emotions, thoughts, brain wave patterns and the unseen energy felt and exchanged in our relationships with everything from trees to animals and other humans affect our heart rate, intuition, inspiration and the general feelings of well-being that contribute to our health.
Simply defined, “coherence” is balance – mentally, emotionally and physiologically. And, of course, as integrated beings, it’s virtually impossible to have balance in one area and not in another. Thus, brain coherence and heart coherence are integrally connected.
In their research paper, The Science of the Heart, the HeartMath Institute states, “The feelings we label as positive actually reflect body states that are coherent, meaning that the regulation of life processes becomes efficient, or even optimal, free-flowing and easy.” When we are coherent, we have clarity of thought, speech and emotional composure. And, simply loving our pets can create that state – making us, and them, healthier in the process.
The graph from the same research paper demonstrates our energetic connection to our pets quite well.
Heart-rhythm patterns of a boy and his dog: The data was obtained using ambulatory ECG recorders fitted on both Josh, a young boy and Mabel, his pet dog. When Josh entered the room where Mabel was waiting and consciously felt feelings of love and care towards his pet, his heart rhythms became more coherent and this change appears to have influenced Mabel’s heart rhythms, which shifted to a more coherent rhythm.
Some scientists call the heart, “the little brain” due to its high number of neurites and neurological connections. In fact, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
I personally experienced the benefits of “pet-induced coherence” when dealing with stage 4 bone cancer. While very close to death and before I was cured using natural and alternative treatments, my cats sensed my illness and stayed as near to me as they could, even sleeping against me on my bed, which they had never done when I was well. And, after healing and seeing the scientific proof of coherence and its health benefits, I have returned the favor by giving them 15-minute doses of gentle, conscious petting each day. Now science has proven that it’s as good for you, and them, as is meditation. It is meditation.
If you really want to increase the health effectiveness of loving your pet then, while you’re petting them on the couch (turn off the TV) or outside in the yard, close your eyes, breath through your nose, slow your breathing to a five count in and a five count out, and visualize your breath as coming in and out through your heart. And, of course, feeling love while doing the heart breath is important but that shouldn’t be hard to do. We should try this exercise with our fellow humans more often. The research shows that it increases coherence, intuition, insight and health.
So, the next time you’re quietly enjoying your pet’s presence, remember that the heart isn’t simply a muscle that pumps blood. It’s much smarter than that. Hearts talk, and the positive, invisible energy that they share through our intersecting EMF’s extends well beyond our bodies. You and your pets have the ability, through your mutual and proximate expression of unconditional love, to heal and balance each other – and anyone else close by.
Tom Peters is a renewable energy planning and financial consultant who lives with his wife Ellen and their two rescued cats, Lillie and Maggie, in Black Mountain, NC.