New!  Join us for friendly live discussion in our Discord server. Try it

Heart Rhythm Meditation

Focus attention on your heartbeat.

By Marilyn Cootsis

THE BASIC IDEA: focus attention on your heartbeat. This sounds similar to one of the world's best-known meditation techniques, 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.

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

Physiological effect
Upward Meditation: Samadhi
Heart Rhythm Meditation: Stage 5
No pulse. Heart goes into a high-speed flutter.
Heartbeat becomes extremely regular.
Sharply reduced.
Greatly increased.
Oxygen consumption
Extremely low.
Brain waves
Like deep sleep.
Like aha! peak experiences.
Central nervous system activity

I don't believe it’s true, as this table asserts, that samadhi causes the heart to flutter.

Bair says his method entrains breathing and heartbeats, meaning that their rhythm becomes coherent or in sync.

I find that easy to believe because Vipassana meditators often report that their breath and heartbeat become synchronized even though they aren't trying to make it happen. In fact, here's a report by a meditator who finds that his heart becomes synchronized to the ticking of the clock in the room!

I have no problem at all to be aware of my breath for many hours, but I rarely notice the breathing alone. There’s always breath+heartbeat, and sometimes the heartbeat is even more intense than the breath, no matter in what position I am. And when there's a clock at the room, the heartbeat is always perfectly synchronized with the ticktock. (Source)

I searched the Web for first-person reports by people who had tried heart rhythm meditation but couldn't find any. However I did find the following which may be relevant.

I'm 24 and I have been practicing meditation casually for 4 years. At the beginning it was to reduce my insomnia, so I started with breath-focusing meditation. I practiced in my bed, 10 - 20min before sleep, lied down (I just don't find the lotus position more beneficial). And along the years it cured my insomnia, now I can even fall asleep in the bus or in the plane, which was impossible to me before!

Anyway, back on the the reason why I write here. When I practice breath-focusing, I can reach a very restful, calm state. And from here, I am able to focus solely on something. I tried different things I found here or on the internet, and I got various results. Last week, I started focusing on my Heart Rhythm, feeling the blood pulsing from my heart to my extremities, through my blood vessels, a whole new feel for me.

Yesterday night, I focused more on the time between each pump, and I naturally started to try to slow down the rhythm, the way I slow down my breath when I do breath-focusing. Making the time between each pump longer, and longer. Suddenly, I began to feel like I have pins and needles everywhere, the kind of feeling you have in your legs when you sit too long, or in your head when you stand up too fast. I can't feel my heart, it's like I am not powered anymore. I don't know how to word it but it seems I'm letting myself die. Feels like if I'm going deeper, I will not be able to comeback.

I had to stop here, panicked and lethargic at the same time. I woke up, had a glass of water, checked the time, and I decided to try it again, to see how long does it takes me to reach this state (when I stop focusing on my breath I loose the track of time). I reached it again, held it a bit longer but it's too scary to go deeper. It takes me around 30min to achieve it.

Is anyone can guide me on what to do here?

TLDR: Tried heart rhythm meditation, managed to slow heart beats until it feels it's not beating anymore and i'm going to die. (Source)

Marilyn Cootsis has been a contributor to since it began in 1999.

Related pages on this site



Related Books

Cloud of Unknowing

Living From the Heart

By Puran and Susanna Bair

Martin, an Amazon reviewer, wrote:

“I found this book by accident and without exaggeration I can say that this book changed my life. I learned Heart Rhythm Meditation from this book and applying this to my life opened up doors to new thinking that transformed my life. Yes, I still experienced problems and challenges but with a conscious connection to my heart I have been able to surmount challenges and experience growth and prosper. The process of connecting to the power of my heart softened the rigidity of my thinking and opened my mind to avenues of thought that helped me to transform my life. I became open to wider religious thinking and to ideas from genres that I would not have even considered previous to my discovery of this great book and way of living. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I am grateful to Puran and Suzanna.”

See it on Amazon.

This page was published on January 16, 2000 and last revised on June 19, 2017.


comments powered by Disqus