The 4 Layers of Coherence: How to Increase Flow in Life & Relationships

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“When we’re engaged with our hearts, the mind slows down and our thoughts become more rational and focused”

 – Doc Childre, founder of the Heartmath Institute

Being in a coherent state means living in harmony with ourselves first and foremost and also with others.

Understanding the concept of coherence is the first step in taking control of our emotions and life.

It’s also important to establish personal coherence – coherence within ourselves – first in order to truly connect with another and others.

We’re going to explore the different layers of coherence and how to become more coherent through our body, mind, and most importantly heart.

First let’s define coherence as:

“The synchronization of our physical, mental and emotional systems.

It can be measured by our heart-rhythm patterns: The more balanced and smooth they are, the more in sync, or coherent we are.

Stress levels recede, energy levels increase and our brain and the “heart brain” work together.

It is a state of optimal clarity, perception and performance.

– The Heartmath Institute, leaders in research on heart intelligence, coherence, intuition, and the science of interconnectivity

By increasing our personal coherence we align our internal world with our external actions while awakening our heart’s powerful intelligence.

The 4 Layers of Coherence: 

  1. Personal Coherence (Self)
  2. Inter-personal Coherence Level I (Other)
  3. Inter-personal Coherence Level II (Others
  4. Global Coherence (Self merges with the Other(s) to become an inclusive Us)

1- Personal Coherence (Self):

We can learn to cultivate our personal coherence (interconnectedness within our own bodies and minds) by syncing and elevating the body’s functions (especially our heart rhythm), and by efficiently managing our vital force energy reserves. 

Coherence is tied to optimal efficiency and flow because entering this state means our bodies are making the most of its internal resources, wasting very little if anything in the process. 

Increased personal coherence also leads to stronger intuition and the ability to listen to our inner voice much more clearly. 

If we are disconnected from our body and mind we will experience incoherence across bodily systems including our 3 intelligence centers, which ultimately leads to increased stress, anxiety, frustration, and fatigue. 

2- Inter-personal Coherence Level I (Other):

This is the level of intimate interconnectedness between ourselves and 1 Other.

The first experience we ever have of this type of inter-personal coherence begins with our giver of life: the Mother. 

Our perception and experience of this bond are one of the most impactful and important influences in who we become later on in life.

Our perceptions around this first connection also go on to determine how we relate to the 1 Significant Other.

Any kind of perceived disruption of this maternal bond (incoherence) can often manifest later in life as anxious/depressive tendencies, destructive behavioral patterns such as addiction, and/or relational issues with the Other(s).

Later in life, the main form of this 1-on-1 relational dynamic refers to the connection and harmonious interactions between ourselves and our 1 Significant Other. 

Often times, if things are strained between us and our partner we will experience more internal turmoil and energy leaks, making it much more difficult to effectively manage our anxiety. 

If, on the other hand, when we increase coherence between us and him/her we will strengthen that connection, and that in turn will become a huge source of support that will enable better management of mental/emotional states. 

So how do we increase coherence in intimate relationships? 

By first increasing our own personal coherence, which we’ll discuss below.

According to Heartmath research the more coherent you are in your own space the more you open up to possibility of sharing that coherence with your significant other:

“It appears that sensitivity to this form of energetic communication between individuals is related to the ability to be emotionally and physiologically coherent.

The data indicate that when individuals are in a coherent state, they are more sensitive to receiving information contained in the magnetic fields generated by others.”

3- Inter-personal Coherence Level II (Others): 

This is the level of interconnectedness between ourselves and others.

It takes the form of me + them. 

When coherence is present at this level we are better able to authentically connect with others in a more heartfelt way.

We are also able to, as Gregg Braden says:

“Become more sensitive to the information from other people and the world around us.” 

It is through this level of coherence that we are able to collectively unite and work towards achieving a common goal like this team of ants building a bridge for the collective to advance on their journey: 

Think of the sayings “no man is an island,” and “stronger together.” 

Just like the flock of birds and the school of fish move in unison, we humans also have the ability to co-create optimal results with those around us. The more we each individually tend to our own personal coherence, the stronger this interconnection with others will be. 

We are neurobiologically wired for connection, bonding, and belonging. This is a crucial part of healing mental, emotional, and physical dis-ease. 

A supportive nucleus is an essential part of learning to effectively manage our anxiety. 

It’s thanks to the support of those closest to us that we can get through those tough moments in life. For some of us it will be blood family, and for others it will mostly be chosen family. Either way, we need each other not just to survive but to thrive. 

And this leads us to the last level of coherence…

4- Global Coherence (Self + Other(s) = inclusive US)

This last level refers to the interconnectedness of the entire human species as a collective. Lines of separation such as: white or black, rich or poor, democrat or republican blur. We become one – an inclusive us. 

The first day or so we all pointed to our countries.

The third day we were pointing to our continents.

By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.

 – Sultan Bin Salman al- Saud, NASA Astronaut

If we all of a sudden got word that there was an asteroid heading straight for Earth, we would band together and forget our differences. We’d work towards a common goal that involves the survival of the entire planet. 

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.

From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.

 – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

Because this coherence level is the most far removed level from the Self, it’s the more difficult one to grasp or adopt in daily life. 

This is because with our feet on the earth, we have the perspective of an ant. Our immediate world looks and feels so huge. 

Astronauts have the opportunity to experience this state of global coherence from a plane of perception and experience most of us can only dream and visualize. 

That’s why I like to play with that perspective and zoom myself out about 240,000 miles towards the moon. I take on the perspective of an astronaut who looks back at the Earth the same way an eagle would be able to soar high enough to view the entire canyon. 

Whenever anxiety attacks and you feel like the world is caving in around you, or that your situation seems insurmountable, stop. 

Breath. Deeply. 

And close your eyes. 

Envision yourself zooming out from where you currently are to an Astronaut’s perspective and take it in. Take in the order and vastness of life and ask yourself: 

In five years will whatever I am anxious about still matter?

There seems to be more to the universe than random, chaotic, purposeless movement of a collection of molecular particles. 

On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space towards the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, and harmonious.

 – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

Just remember that you are part of a much bigger whole here. 

You doing the inner work necessary to manage your anxiety by tapping into optimal efficiency and flow, cultivating resilience and increasing coherence is like you throwing a pebble into the global pond – you’re creating ripples of change with your choices and actions. 

Your choices and actions today are powerful indicators of where you’ll likely be tomorrow. 

These 4 levels demonstrate the layers of connection (coherence) we can experience first internally, and then outwardly with others. 

It’s also really important to understand the role coherence plays in our brain’s decision-making process. And since coherence begins inwardly, you cannot master the other levels of coherence unless you’ve established that connection inside yourself. 

So how do we become more coherent?

Step #1 – Breathe slowly, deliberately, and mindfully. 

Follow the emblem below for a quick coherence building session…

Place your hands over your heart center and inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts…

Do it until you feel a shift.

Step #2 – Invoke the energy of gratitude, appreciation, and contentment. 

This simple act literally shifts your heart’s rhythm according to Heartmath research.

Think of it like this:

When you have a heartfelt moment of genuine appreciation and gratitude you literally activate your heart’s intelligence.

This then activates your other two brains (head and gut) and create harmony and union (yoga) within every system in your body – hormonal systems, neural systems, nervous systems, etc.

This is the sweet spot!

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