In our Optimal Health and advanced New Era courses, we have an increased focus on enhancing the positive and aligning us to our goals, achieving greater well-being.
We are now using a new HRV program, the Health Body Analyzer, to measure improvements. This new system measures Vagal Tone as well as our usual parameters of heart rate variability (HRV), autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, stress levels, etc.
Recent research supports the need for positive emotions in improving our overall health and well-being. The measure of the Vagal Tone is one way to assess these improvements.
How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health: Perceived Positive Social Connections Account for the Upward Spiral Between Positive Emotions and Vagal Tone Psychological Science24(7) 1123 –1132
Bethany E. Kok1, Kimberly A. Coffey1, Michael A. Cohn2, Lahnna I. Catalino1, Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk1, Sara B. Algoe1, Mary Brantley3, and Barbara L. Fredrickson11Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 2Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and 3Duke Integrative Medicine, Duke Center for Living Campus, Duke University
The mechanisms underlying the association between positive emotions and physical health remain a mystery. We hypothesize that an upward-spiral dynamic continually reinforces the tie between positive emotions and physical health and that this spiral is mediated by people’s perceptions of their positive social connections. We tested this overarching hypothesis in a longitudinal field experiment in which participants were randomly assigned to an intervention group that self-generated positive emotions via loving-kindness meditation or to a waiting-list control group.
Participants in the intervention group increased in positive emotions relative to those in the control group, an effect moderated by baseline vagal tone, a proxy index of physical health. Increased positive emotions, in turn, produced increases in vagal tone, an effect mediated by increased perceptions of social connections. This experimental evidence identifies one mechanism—perceptions of social connections—through which positive emotions build physical health, indexed as vagal tone. Results suggest that positive emotions, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining upward-spiral dynamic.