Your Immune System
The immune system is your body’s intelligent and highly efficient process of protecting you against infection by identifying and killing pathogens – infectious agents. When your immune system is functioning properly, it is on a constant mission to seek and destroy these pathogens, distinguishing them from your cells and tissues as it goes about its work. When the immune system is somehow compromised, including by chemotherapy, side effects from drugs or congenitally, you are at risk of contracting any of a host of infections and diseases.
Maintaining good health so your immune system can protect you is vital to your well-being. Eating the right foods and regular exercise will go a long way toward that end, but may not be enough for a lot of people. Despite healthy diets and routine exercise, millions of people still are subject to frequent ailments because their immune systems aren’t performing up to their capability. Immune-system disorders can occur for many reasons and if you suspect this condition in yourself or another, a physician’s advice should be sought.
You Really Should Care
Researchers over the past 25 years have shown that our emotions may be as important to our immune systems, perhaps more so, than even the foods we consume. Among them are the HeartMath Institute’s Rollin McCraty and a research team, who wanted to go beyond the 1980s experiment by Harvard psychologist Dr. David McClelland. In this they found that immune-system functioning, as measured by IgA, or secretory immunoglobulin A levels, increased in students who were shown a video about Mother Teresa. A duplicate experiment produced very similar results in the study, The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger. After test subjects learned the HeartMath Institute’s Freeze Frame® technique to guide them, they were asked to intentionally feel care and compassion for five minutes. Several days later, they were asked to feel five minutes of self-induced anger by remembering a situation or experience that made them angry and trying to recapture the feeling they had at the time.
Your emotions affect every cell in your body. Mind and body, mental and physical, are intertwined.Dr. Thomas Tutko, Father of Sports Psychology
The results McCraty and the team obtained were quite remarkable: In both cases, after five minutes of feeling care and compassion, the subjects had an immediate 41 percent average increase in their IgA levels. After one hour, IgA levels returned to normal, but slowly increased over the next six hours. The researchers observed that self-induced care resulted in a much larger rise in IgA than the care experienced by viewing the Mother Teresa video. In some individuals, IgA increased as much as 240 percent immediately after they performed the Freeze-Frame technique. Interestingly, there also was an 18 percent increase in IgA levels when the participants experienced anger, but an hour later, their IgA levels had dropped to only about half of what they were before the anger. Even after six hours, their IgA levels were still not back to normal.
Key findings: Heart-focused, sincere, positive feeling states boost the immune system, while negative emotions may suppress the immune response for up to six hours following the emotional experience. —The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger, 1995, Rein, Atkinson and McCraty
A HeartMath TIP:
Cut-Thru: Here’s a simple exercise adapted from the HeartMath Cut-Thru technique to help you achieve emotional coherence, which has been shown to improve the efficiency of the immune system.
- Be aware of how you feel about an issue at hand.
- Breathe a positive feeling or attitude.
- Be objective, as if the issue or problem is someone else’s.
- Rest peacefully in this neutral state, allowing your heart intelligence new perspectives and possibilities.
- Soak and relax all resistances and disturbing or perplexing feelings in your heart’s compassion.
- Ask for guidance, then be patient and receptive. While awaiting an answer from the heart find something or someone to genuinely appreciate.
In-depth details and a discussion about the Cut-Thru technique are included in a number of HeartMath materials, including the book Transforming Anxiety, The HeartMath Solution for Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity, by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman.
Benefits of a Coherent Heart
- Lowers stress levels
- Boosts immune system, enabling healthier living
- Reduces anxiety, anger and other negative emotions
- Raises energy and vitality
- Increases caring and compassion
Benefits of Intentional Emotions and Thoughts
- Energy used for positive purposes and constantly replenished.
- Look and feel mentally, physically, emotionally healthier.
- Mental, physical aging reversed.
- Outlook transformed to positive one.
- Stress levels reduced.
- Conversations, other interactions with people more relaxed, not draining.