Saturday 16 January 2021

Review: Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers

Review: Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers

Written by Casey Douglass

Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers Syntropy States

Heartmath UK+IR offers customers a number of tools that help to bring their mind and body into a state of coherence. They’ve just released a pack of new Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers from Syntropy States, and I’ve been putting them through their paces for the last couple of weeks.

Added Nov 2022: These breath pacers now only seem to be available as part of the Syntropy app. You can read more in my review.

So what is coherence and why is it useful to enter it? Basically, your heart rate varies in timing between each beat. This is your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). When you’re experiencing negative emotions, such as anxiety or frustration, your HRV, if plotted over time, would look jagged and dramatic. When you’re experiencing positive or heartfelt emotions, such as appreciation or love, the time plot would look closer to a smoother, sine-wave pattern. Your system would be in a state of coherence, where various bodily systems are working more harmoniously together. This helps you to think more clearly and puts your body into a more synchronised state.

Heartmath provide sensing devices that actually give your current coherence a score, and they also offer tools and techniques to help you to deepen and expand your capacity for coherence. I was lucky enough to be sent one of their Inner Balance review devices after my previous post about their Syntropy States relaxation aids, and I’ve been experimenting with it for the last couple of months. I hope to write an in-depth piece about my experiences with the Inner Balance device soon.

You don’t need Heartmath’s gadgets to practise their coherence techniques however, you just need to adopt a slightly deeper and even breathing pattern, focus on your heart area, and if you can, generate a heartfelt emotion, maybe by thinking of something you’re grateful for, or about someone you love. These new Coherence Breath Pacers take away the burden of making sure that you’re breathing in a suitable rhythm, and help you to focus in a slightly easier way.

Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers Syntropy States

There are seven videos in the collection, each coming in a light and a dark variety, and each makes use of a different geometric shape in the pattern that it presents to you: Cube, Sphere, Dodecahedron, Isohedron, Merkaba, Octahedron and Tetrahedron. When you begin playing a video, you’ll see an expanding and contracting pattern that makes use of whichever shape is at its base. You will also hear a soothing soundscape to help you to focus and relax into the process.

The videos are available in three breathing paces, 8/10/12 seconds, and as you watch the shape ebb and flow, you time your inhale and exhale to begin and to finish when the direction changes. If you’ve opted for the 10 second pace videos, it means that you will be inhaling for 5 seconds, and then exhaling for the next 5. There are sample videos of each breath cycle duration on the store page, so you can try each one to see which feels most comfortable before your purchase.

I found myself gravitating towards certain of the videos more than others. I think that Sphere was my favourite. The soundtrack had trickling water and a nice vocal too, but what I really enjoyed was the dark mode version. Watching it felt like looking down a tunnel, and also gave me the impression, of what a black-hole might look like if it was “liquid”, if that makes sense. In general, the light mode videos all had a really pleasing “sunny” light source in the middle, with the Merkaba video giving me an impression of said sunlight shining through blinds on a quiet afternoon.

Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers Syntropy States

The dark modes of each video had a kind of neon feel for me. The colours of the Merkaba video in its dark form, made me think of desert sand and a glowing evening warmth. Another thing that I found quite fun was to reverse my breathing pattern on subsequent viewings. If I watched a video by inhaling at the start of the pattern, the next time, I would exhale first or wait one cycle to begin with the exhale. Inhaling when the outer edges of a pattern are expanding towards you feels a certain way, but inhaling when you see the opposite happening feels a bit different. That gave me two ways to approach each video and in a way, gave each video four variations.

I had hoped to use some of my Inner Balance device readings as a way to gauge how effective these Coherence Breath Pacer videos are, but it doesn’t seem that I can, right now at least. My average coherence rating for my daily sessions has gradually increased, barring the odd exception, so any benefit that the videos might have given me could well be masked by this general increase. What I can say however, is that my highest average coherence ratings often seem to go hand-in-hand with using the videos, so at the very least, they are helping rather than hindering me.

Something else that I really appreciate, is using the videos to help with my breath pacing. On my low-end smartphone, the Heartmath app is a little bit laggy at times, which makes using the on-screen animations and pacers a little off-putting as they can chug at times. Using one of these videos and being able to watch along, being less concerned with my breathing pattern, brings a different feeling to doing my Heartmath exercises. It also had the unlooked for benefit, of helping me to feel a heartfelt emotion when I was struggling to find one, because if nothing else, I could reflect on how pleasing the patterns on screen are to watch. If you are feeling down or numb, that feels a lot more doable and immediate than using your memory or imagination to coax a feeling to the surface.

I think that the Coherence Breath Pacers are a great way to experiment with coherence practices, and whether you own a snazzy biofeedback device or not, the breathing is such an important element. Once I get my breathing settled, coherence often occurs moments later, so having these videos did free me up to lean more into the heart-focussed emotion aspect of entering coherence. They are something that I intend to use regularly, at least once per day, and I think that they would make a nice addition to anyone’s meditation or focussed-practice toolbox.

The Audio Visual Coherence Breath Pacers are available from Heartmath UK+IR. They’re also currently on sale at £12 from their regular price of £15. You might also be interested to know that the Relaxation Aids from Syntropy States are also currently on offer at £15 instead of £19.

I was given review access to this product.