Review: The emWave2 – Finally Technology That Will NOT Stress You Out!

emWave2 from HeartMath

emWave2 from HeartMath

Back when we were endlessly walking the aisles of the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 (CES 2011) we happened upon a company called HeartMath.  They gave us a quick demo of the emWave2, which they told us is a sophisticated yet simple technology to help you increase personal balance, energy, and overall well-being.  Sounded good, but after seeing about 1,000 product demos we were most interested in a device that would instantly transport us to the cozy bed in our hotel room.

Flash Forward to The Present – Putting the emWave2 To The Test

We recently received an emWave2 unit to test out and review.  Before we go into exactly what the emWave2 is, let me wet your whistle for why you should care about this gadget by giving you a line right out of their manual –

“Typical benefits that people notice within two weeks of using the emWave Practice Plan include: more calm, less reactive, more alert, better focus, less anxiety, more peace, more positive attitudes and better sleep.”

Hold the phone, now you are talking our language! You see, as Moms and Dads we are a diverse group – different  interests, unique personalities, live different places and work different jobs.  However, if there is one thing that bonds all Moms and Dads together it is that we are a tired and stressed out bunch! Yes, parenting is wonderful, the kids are fantastic, we are blessed, blah, blah, blah – but juggling everything can make any parent feel tired, worn down and stressed.

Now, the emWave2, a small electronic portable device, with some pretty lights, is promising to make parents feel less stressed and tired?  This we had to see to believe!

What in The World is the emWave2?

From a hardware standpoint, the emWave2 is pretty straight forward.  It is a handheld electronic device that can measure your pulse, provide feedback via lights and sounds and incorporates emWave Technology.  What is emWave Technology? So glad you asked…

“emWave technology is an innovative approach to improving wellness and facilitating personal growth based on learning to change your heart rhythm pattern to create coherence; a scientifically measurable state characterized by increased order and harmony in our psychological and physiological processes.”

That is how the folks at HeartMath define emWave2 and the technology inside of the device, but I am going to take another stab at it.  The emWave2 is a perfect example of taking sophisticated science and research on health and well being and putting it to practical use in a gadget that even a dumb Dad like me can use.

How Can Taking My Pulse Reduce My Stress and Give Me More Energy?

While the emWave2 does measure your pulse, there is actually very sophisticated technology in the device to gleam more revealing and actionable information from your pulse.  Time for a very quick science lesson, grab a caffeinated beverage and hang with us for a few paragraphs…

We all know that the brain “talks” to the heart, by sending neural signals to the heart, things like “hey heart, pump it up!”  What is surprising to learn is that this is not a one way conversation.  The heart actually “talks” or sends more neural signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart.    This is a pretty big deal because those neural signals from the heart to the brain effect emotional processing and cognitive functions such as attention, perception, memory and problem-solving.

Here is the other funny thing about the heart, it really does not beat in a steady rhythm.  Your pulse over a minute might be 70 beats per minute (BPM), but that is just an average.  Measured from a beat to beat variation, it could have been doing 76, then 69, then 82 and it all averaged out to 70 BPM.   This variability from beat to beat is called heart rate variability (HRV) and it is the key to how the emWave2 does it magic.    The emWave2 shows us the HRV data in real time and we can use our mind to produce a coherent heart rhythm pattern and this makes us less stressed, more aware, filled with energy and generally happier parents!

I am Totally Lost, By Thinking Happy Thoughts We Change How Our Heart Functions?

Sort of.  Research from the Institute of HeartMath shows that one of the most powerful factors that affects our heart’s changing rhythm is our feelings and emotions.  If we are stressed and angry, our HRV waveform is uneven and all over the place.  If we feel happy and good, the HRV waveform goes into a Coherent Pattern – things in the body are in sync.  In the coherence state our heart, brain and nervous system operate in harmony and efficiency.

Here is the take away, you want to spend more of your time in the Coherence state – you just function emotionally and logically better in this stage, and the emWave2 is all about getting you to live in the Coherence State!

Is this The Same Thing as Meditation or Relaxtion?

No.  This was my first concern – that the emWave2 was just going to try to reduce stress by teaching me to relax and take deep breaths.  Heart rate patterns in relaxation and coherence are actually pretty different.  While relaxation and breathing are part of entering the Coherence State, the major focus is on heartfelt positive emotions.

This Sounds Crazy, Is There Any Real Science to Back This Up?

We had the exact same feeling at first, but the technology is actually well researched –

  • emWave Technology is based on 20 years of research
  • emWave Technology is used by more than 10,000 health professionals to help patients reduce stress and anxiety
  • 65 VA Hospitals are using emWave to help soldiers deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • HeartMath studies have appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals

We encourage you to do your own research, but we were pretty impressed with their science.  Okay, enough about science, let’s get to how you use the emWave2 –

How Do You Use the emWave2

Here is a quick video we created that explains how you use the emWave2 -

As you can see, operating the emWave2 is pretty easy.  If you want more detailed feedback, you can hook the emWave2 to your computer and use the included software.  The software allows you to track progress through storing session information and providing a more detailed view of your heart rhythms.  In addition there are some games you can play to try to increase the time you spend in the Coherence state.

The Million Dollar Question – Does the emWave2 Work?

Believe it or not, the emWave2 does seem to work.  The training program calls for doing about 5-10 minutes a day for two weeks and scoring 1500 Coherence points a week.  We still need to do more testing and will update this review in a few weeks, but we do tend to feel better and more in sync after using the emWave2 for a few minutes each day.    Are we completely stress free?  No, but we do feel that the emWave2 has us moving in a positive direction.

The ultimate goal would be to change your resting Coherence state, so after lots of practice, you are naturally in that very positive Coherence state.  Until you reach that stage, you can use the emWave2 on a as needed basis to help you quickly enter the Coherence state.

There are a few small negatives to the emWave2.  As far as we could figure, there was no way to store data for different users, under different names.  So if Mom and Dad both wanted to use one emWave2 device, their coherence scores would be combined with synced with the computer.   In addition, at times the unit would lose the pulse reading, but that might have been human error on our part?

Conclusion:  emWave2 by HeartMath

The emWave2 is a very impressive device with huge potential benefits. It is a pretty incredible feeling to know that you are using your mind to “think and breath” in your heart and that in turn is helping your mind and body! If there is a catch with the emWave2, it is that it takes time to see dramatic results.  In many ways, what you are doing with the emWave2 is exercising your heart and mind and as with any exercise, if you put the time in, you tend to see results.

Technically the emWave2 is very well designed.  The device itself is simple and manages to hide the complex science that is behind it.    The emWave2 is very portable so if you happen to be out and hit a stressful situation, it just takes a few minutes with the emWave2 to get yourself  into a good coherence state.

Once we have used the emWave2 for a few weeks we will give it a full rating, but we have seen enough positive results to feel confident in recommending it for people who are looking to deal with stress.   In addition, with Father’s Day right around the corner, the emWave2 would make a terrific gift for Dad!

Learn More:  HeartMath – Makers of the emWave2

Price: $229

Update: 5/31/11 – We are giving away an emWave2 as part of our Great Father’s Day Giveway on 6/8/2011 –

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