Joseph P. Arpaia, MD
I have been exploring the relationship between heart rate variability (HRV) and stress for the past 20 years, reading the research literature and working with people in my medical practice. As I watched the beat-to-beat HRV trace over thousands of sessions I found I could use that as a window into a persons stress-response system. The trace became a powerful tool to both guide interventions and to demonstrate to the person practicing the techniques that they had a real, and often immediate effect.
As I observed 100’s and then 1000’s of HRV traces, I realized that the trace varied from individual to individual, almost like a signature. The individual’s tracing also varied according to their physical and emotional state. I found that once I learned an individual’s heart trace I could see stress-related changes as they occurred second-by-second. Since I was also observing the patient I could distinguish changes in the heart trace caused by stress from those caused by movement, or changes in breathing. The HRV trace gave me a window into their inner world. There were times when someone would be relaxing and without seeing any change in their body I would see the shape of the HRV trace change and I would inquire what had just happened. I would hear “I was thinking about stress at home” or “My mind had drifted to work”. That enabled me to use the HRV trace as a guide for training patients to control their stress responses to improve their health, their performance at school or work, and their personal relationships.
One powerful use of the HRV trace was to show patients that what they did with their breath or with their attention caused immediate changes in their stress-response system. Without the visual evidence patients would experience subjective relief from a technique, but often not believe they were accomplishing anything. When I could show them the effect of the technique on their HRV trace they were much more likely to trust the technique and to practice.
Ibernetics is the company that Dr. Arpaia formed to present educational materials and training to people who he cannot see individually. “Ibernetics” is a play on “cybernetics”.
Cybernetics – n – the science of systems of control and communications in living organisms and machines. New Oxford English Dictionary
Ibernetics therefore emphasizes exploring and training the systems of control and communications within an individual for the purposes of enhancing health, performance and relationships.