Improvement Results In Upset Recovery

I am pleased to be presenting the results of this study at the QuantifiedSelf Meetup in San Francisco on 28 July.  As I have been crunching the numbers I thought I would give a sneak peek at the summary results.

Starting on 24 June and I sat for 71 sessions using the Heartmath Pro and a digitial recorder. I would do work on a computer and record verbally what I was thinking when the Heartmath indicated I was dropping out of cardiac coherence (Upset). I was measuring interruptions to coherency which roughly correspond to being distracted or Upset while working.

As the sessions progressed I developed recovery techniques to try and move back to coherence (Poise) as quickly as possible. I wanted to see if I could reduce the amount of time I was Upset during the sessions. The data shows that my techniques did reduce the amount of time I spent Upset in each session over the course of the study:


What this graph means is that the % of time I spent Upset per session went from close to 35% at the baseline to 12% at completion. In time terms, that means in each 60 minutes of work I was able to add back 13 minutes and 48 seconds of productive time. When in Poise my thoughts are more focussed, clearer and my output higher.

As an example of how Poise made for more a more productive mental state, while working on multiple administrative issues I needed to recall a mailing address. In every session when I was in Poise I could do this with ease. During one particular session I was in Upset and I could not remember the address at all. I remember thinking “I know this information” but I had to look it up on my computer. When I returned to Poise I could again easily remember the address. This is one anecdote that reflects my qualitative experience of how clear my mind was when in either Upset or Poise.

My second question was if the number of Upsets were decreasing per session. The techniques slightly improved the average time between upsets, but not enough to account for the overall improvement show in the first graph:


The average time between Upsets in each session went from 2 minutes to 2.5 minutes over the course of the study. My qualitative experience was that the sessions had a steady diet of distractions and upsets that would occur before I was even aware of it and the machine had to alert me that I had triggered. My pre-conscious awareness was knocking me into an Upset state at a pretty steady rate.

What accounted for the improvement? The techniques I developed to effectively react to the Upset look to be the driver. The length of time I spent in the Upset state once I detected it dropped over the course of the sessions:


Awareness and consistent response in this study was particularly effective in improving how fast I could reverse an Upset. The methods were based on the two navigational impulses I discussed in my earlier post on Feeling Lost or in the Wrong Place. I have now moved to measuring two sessions daily as training to embed the ability to reverse Upsets with a guide of keeping the % of session time in Upset at around 10%. So far the results have been positive.

Look forward to seeing you at the QS SF Meetup!

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3 thoughts on “Improvement Results In Upset Recovery

  1. Awesome stuff! Can you give examples of some techniques you used to achieve Poise? I’ve been using an emwave2 myself and am interested in doing more sustained HRV tracking.

    1. Ben, thanks for the comment. Respiration is the most powerful technique. Different breath pacing apps will help you improve, though I have found all roads lead to “breathing into the curve.” Than means you train yourself to start breathing in at the bottom of the sine wave of your RR intervals and breathe in until your RR interval wave peaks, at which you start breathing out. Second most important is getting your mind right with the topic that triggered the Upset. I have shared some other ideas in this post

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