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Heart Rhythm Meditation



THE BASIC IDEA: focus attention on your heartbeat.

This sounds similar to the world's best-known meditation technique, vipassana, which starts by focusing on the breath. But according to Puran Bair, author of a book on heart rhythm meditation, there's a big difference. He says that vipassana (like most meditation methods) is an "upward" technique that raises consciousness away from ego, sensation, materiality, and thought. In contrast, heart rhythm meditation is an "upward-followed-by-downward" technique which launches consciousness on the same upward trajectory, but then brings it back down to recreate the meditator.

The idea of going up and then down to reach the heart is present in many traditions,* and Bair's book is based on old Sufi methods. What may be new here is not the up-and-down trajectory, but the particular technique for accomplishing it.

Bair uses the following table to compare the different physiological results that come from upward and downward meditation:

Physiological effect Upward Meditation:
Heart Rhythm Meditation:
Stage 5
Heartbeat No pulse. Heart goes into a high-speed flutter. Heartbeat becomes extremely regular.
Circulation Sharply reduced. Greatly increased.
Oxygen consumption Extremely low. Increased.
Brain waves Like deep sleep. Like aha! peak experiences.
Central nervous system activity Decreased. Increased.
Copyright 1999 The Institute for Applied Meditation, Inc.


Some scientific evidence suggests that heart rhythm meditation works partly by causing frequency entrainment. This means that brainwaves and heartbeats get into matching rhythms. There is also evidence that meditators can create this effect by using biofeedback gadgets and computer programs that create sounds. At the end of this article, you'll find links to manufacturers who sell such paraphernalia.

*For example, Sri Ramana Maharshi, speaking from the perspectives of Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, said, "An examination of the ephemeral nature of external phenomena leads to vairagya [dispassion]. Hence enquiry (vichara) is the first and foremost step to be taken. When vichara continues automatically, it results in a contempt for wealth, fame, ease, pleasure, etc. The 'I' thought becomes clearer for inspection. The source of 'I' is the Heart -- the final goal." (Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi, page 26.)

Freddie Yam is a contributing editor of




Living From the Heart: What Happens When You Meditate on Your Heart?
By Puran Bair
The developer of Heart Rhythm Meditation describes some of the benefits it can give you.




By Puran Bair
By becoming mindful of their heartbeats, readers will be able to create a deep state of stillness and alertness, improve physical health, enhance intuition, and concentrate personal power. Bair illustrates the effectiveness of his program with stories of clients he has helped and with ancient teaching stories from the Sufi masters. Heart rhythm meditation is suitable for beginners as well as experienced meditators looking to expand their practice.






Institute for Applied Meditation, Inc.
A non-profit educational organization founded in 1988 by Susanna and Puran Bair. The site has information on heart rhythm meditation. The method is described in detail here.

Cardiac Coherence: A New Noninvasive Measure of Autonomic Nervous System
By William A. Tiller, Rollin McCraty and Mike Atkinson
A scientific paper on the Freeze-Frame technique (see link to Freeze-Framer on this page) that includes a lot of information about frequency entrainment.

This heart rhythm biofeedback tool consists of software and a gizmo that measures your pulse rate.

Binaural Beat Software
Software that produces sounds on a PC to cause entrainment and help you enter meditative states.


This page was published on January 16, 2000 and last revised on March 17, 2000.

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