People are frequently surprised by how powerful Heart Rate Variability Feedback (HRVF) can be. In the words of one client “this is more powerful than any medication I’ve been on…it leaves me really calm, but awake”. Apparently because of this type of natural, spontaneous comparison to drugs, people experience fear of becoming addicted or dependent on HRVF. Wait a second, you mean addicted to breathing? Like drugs?
While this seems absurd I hear it often enough to recognize that it is a common concern which needs to be addressed.
When a person trains with HRVF they are using the feedback to consciously control their breathing, and their autonomic nervous system. Feeling stressed they consciously decide to use HRVF which changes their physiological and mental state. Because they have feedback, as opposed to simply deep breathing, their learning is much faster and more efficient. Like learning piano with a teacher vs. learning from a book with no correction for mistakes.
And like any skill, breathing at your resonant frequency with HRVF becomes more automatic with practice. And that means that it becomes unconscious. The more you practice, the less you need the feedback. The result is that with time when a person becomes stressed, they unconsciously change their breathing and pull themselves back into a relaxed, balanced state without any thought or effort. Far from being dependent, the person who is trained in this way is much more autonomous.
The road to true independence requires strategic, time-limited dependence on good teachers. And HRV feedback is a great teacher.