Psychophysiological Coherence in Community Dynamics – A Comparative Analysis between Meditation and Other Activities

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Description: (1) Background: Psychophysiological coherence has been widely studied as a bodily state associated with general well-being and cognitive clarity. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) has been shown to be a good biomarker to assess psychophysiological coherence. This paper presents the first general set of results concerning a study that is part of a team effort between a body of researchers in five countries led by the HeartMath Institute under the name, International Heart Rate Variability Synchronization Study (IHRVS). This study focuses on the effects that meditation has on both HRV and the Coherence Ratio. It is hypothesized that meditation improves coherence. (2) Methods: Our research study was conducted at The Embassy of Peace in Whitianga, New Zealand with 22 participants, whose cardiac activity was measured via a FIRSTBEAT wireless HRV recorder, for a period of 15 days, 23 hours per day, plus an hour break per day for individual care of the body. In order to have an initial qualitative impression of the data, we developed a Coherence Ratio movie, which allows us to visualize very clearly both individual and collective HRV dynamics at different times during various activities. (3) Results: We observed via the movie, a clear difference between meditation and other periods. We qualitatively demonstrate an improvement in coherence and we found, amongst other things, that one type of meditation, the Paradise Landing Meditation (PLM) conducted every day at 6:00 PM, shows significantly higher values for coherence. We compared quantitatively the PLM with other daily activities and show a significant improvement in coherence when in meditative states. (4) Conclusions: We infer that meditative states might be beneficial to cognition and general well-being and propose that the heart together with the brain and the respiratory system are engaged in modulating cognitive clarity, something that we briefly explore and recommend for further investigation.

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