Heart Intelligence as a Tool for Transformational Coaching

Heart Intelligence Amy Philippen_Coaching_Research_Paper

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein

My experience through my coaching journey so far has been that the most impactful sessions take place when I can share with the client what I have sensed (even if right or wrong) and also when I have made a conscious effort to be present with a heart loving capacity. This has been made possible by accessing other parts of my being beyond the mind such as the heart and the gut (what is also described as intuition).  In this paper, I will be exploring what is heart intelligence, how it can be a catalyst for transformational coaching, and how to access it within ourselves.

What Is Heart Intelligence?

There is a different quality to a coaching session when we can access the intelligence and wisdom of the heart. The sense of connection to our client expands in a magical way where our vibrations match and anything feels possible. There is a sense of oneness and flow between client and coach.

Hearthmath institute, an institute that researches the heart-brain connection defines heart intelligence as…
… the flow of awareness, understanding and intuition we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into coherent alignment with the heart.(Heartmath institute, 2012)

The heart is not only a manifestation of its physiological capabilities of pumping blood through our system but it is a complex center that processes information with its functional brain, known as the heart-brain. What is more, the heart sends more information to the brain than what it receives. It can communicate with the brain through the hormonal, nervous system, and other pathways(Rouh, Unknown).

The heart also plays a crucial role in the emotional and mental experience of our overall quality of life. Many of the high-quality feelings we experience such as gratitude, compassion, love, and kindness are associated with the heart. It also processes our values and our felt connection to others(Chapter 2: The Intelligent Heart, 2020).

It is an electrical organ that creates a magnetic field that communicates with other magnetic fields. It is projected outside the body and radiates several feet outside of you(Chapter 2: The Intelligent Heart, 2020). This means that the heart can pick up on the vibrations of others, thus connecting us and picking up information that feeds our intuition becoming our greatest ally in hearing, seeing, listening to, and assimilating energetic information(Willard, 2016, p. 123).

When the heart is in internal coherence, a state of being highly ordered, organized, and efficient, both the rhythms of the heart and the electromagnetic field are working together and it transmits waves of healing and transformation throughout the entire system, including the brain(Chapter 3: The Science of the Heart, 2020).

In the three brains of leadership: harnessing the wisdom within, the authors discuss the importance of the sequence when harnessing and aligning the wisdom of the three brains (brain, heart, and gut)(Henswood & Soosalu, 2014). They conclude that the most generative sequence when leading starts with the heart intelligence ensuring you start with a felt connection to the people you lead and communities you serve. It then goes to the head, back to the heart then down to the gut, and finishing at the heart again. This sequence is particularly relevant in the context of coaching, where the partnership between coach and client sets the groundwork for creating a safe space and trust that allows the client to open up and a deeper level of change to take place.

How Does Heart Intelligence Lead To Deeper, More Transformative Coaching?

Many aspects of coaching already allude to qualities that are coming from the heart, such as coaches showing empathy and appreciation towards their clients. However, a conscious effort to embody, nurture and tap into those qualities does make a difference and can catapult coaching from transactional to transformative.

Transformational coaching focuses on self-actualization, who does the person choose and want to become whereas transactional coaching focuses on supporting clients to achieve short-term goals, solve specific problems or tasks with their clients. Transformational coaching takes the client from their existing sense of being to an expanded or shifted way of being. The becoming process is the transformational path that takes us through the pathways of the heart into the depths of our being, leading to a more authentic, truer version of who we are(Vanderpol, 2019, p. 19).

Transformation requires a re-orientation of how we interact with life, letting our inner world guide and inform the outer world. This is in contrast to how we have been conditioned and educated to take cues from the outer world and override our inner world.

Too much outside information (or too many thoughts) can load the heart, and too many emotional walls can keep the heart from creating its alchemy. When we receive information from the heart’s radar and try too heavily to rationalize that information, running it through an analytical filter to try to make sense of it, we risk missing its true meaning or why the information came to us at all(Willard, 2016, p. 131). The intellects capacity analysis compares and sees the relationship between things but it is not that which relates to things(Vanderpol, 2019, p. 213). It is more likely to be motivated or influenced by external conditioning than by our internal compass.

It is important to not get stuck in or with the information, feeling polarised. The heart does not like this as the heart likes to flow. We must be present and brave, the heart calm and open to achieve this(Willard, 2016, p. 213).

Heart Intelligence as a Tool for Transformational Coaching 1The action of leading with our heart takes our focus away from the external world and more within, towards the Knowing within ourselves and when we connect with our clients from this place it provides them with the space to do that for themselves. As coaches, by leading from this place of knowing ourselves, we are modeling to our clients what is possible within them as well, many times beyond what they might have considered. It allows for a deeper exploration to take place that unlocks the potential of who they want to become. To reach these deeper levels requires great courage and vulnerability as we start to unravel some of the ego-patterns that inform our core limiting beliefs (such as I am not good enough, I am not worthy, etc.) and cause us to doubt our wholeness, that we are complete beings. In this exploration, only a loving space can provide the healing quality needed to love ourselves back into wholeness(Vanderpol, 2019).

How Do You Tap Into Heart Intelligence?

Many of the clients I coach and people who I am connected to recognize that their lives have become overly driven by their rational side and they simply do not know how to get in touch or relate to their hearts and their emotional realm. This is normal when we consider that our education system is primarily focused on fostering the rational brain and traditionally emotions have been seen as weaknesses rather than strengths which has caused a big disconnection from our intuition and multiple intelligences. Learning how to tap into the heart’s intelligence is not as simple as turning on a switch, it takes time, courage, patience, and in many cases a big break away from behavioral patterns.

A key prerequisite to accessing your heart intelligence is to feel grounded within yourself. Grounded can mean being fully present with your body and/or feeling connected to the earth. Only then will your full sensory capabilities be able to open up and pick up on signals from your heart intelligence. This will also contribute to increasing your awareness and your focus on the present moment. Some ways of getting grounded could be through meditation, walking in nature, placing awareness on your feet and paying attention to sensations, following your breath, etc.

Clearing the mind and making time for silence and inner contemplation is a way of improving the communication between the heart and mind. We live in a world where busyness and productivity are held as the beacons of successful lives. Living by this model does not allow us the space and time to simply be and it is in this space of being and sitting in silence where our heart often whispers its wishes.

Building self-trust is another key component to accessing heart intelligence. This requires that we look for validation when making a decision or looking for a way forward foremost within ourselves rather than what others or wider society regard as right or acceptable. It can start with simple daily decisions such as how should I nourish myself today building that trust step by step to gain the self-trust to move onto bigger decisions.

Having an open and brave heart that is open to vulnerability and being authentic to oneself. Bringing the intention of love to every situation. The key is saying I see you, I love you, I thank you not necessarily in words but also through action, eye contact, and open body language(Willard, 2016, p. 124). In addition, it is important to clear the heart of intense and old emotion as it blocks our intuition from attracting clear information. A closed heart disconnects us from ourselves and those around us. A good way of clearing the heart is by practicing forgiveness and love with those around you and yourself, this also helps us to live more in the present moment.

A technique developed by Heathmath institute, the heart-breathing technique, could be used at the beginning or during sessions to ensure that we as coaches are playing our role in supporting our clients to access their heart intelligence and healing space for transformation to take place(Heartmath Institute, 2012).


  1. Bring awareness to your heart, the center of your chest
  2. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual into the heart area, helping you center and get coherent
  3. Focus on experiencing or returning to a feeling such as appreciation, compassion, or care for someone or something in your life
  4. Breathe out the attitude of love or gratitude

As you are doing this you are increasing your coherence level, the nervous system is synchronizing, hormones being released to the system that regenerates you, signals from your heart to your brain are moving through your emotional and higher brain centers, this opens the door for you to experience more uplifting emotions and intuitive insights(Heartmath Institute, 2012).

The research in this paper highlights the positive benefits that accessing heart intelligence can have in our coaching quality but also how it can support clients to tap into a deeper dimension of their being that can transform their coaching experience and their life.  Even though there is some literature on the role that the heart can play in our overall wellbeing there is little literature on the role it can specifically play in the coaching space. As more people get interested in developing/ reconnecting to their intuitive capacities I hope that more research will be done on the powerful role that heart intelligence can play in this profession.


Brady, A. Chopra.com
Chapter 2: The Intelligent Heart. [Film] Directed by Heartmath Institute. United States: Unknown.
Chapter 3: The Science of the Heart. [Film] Heartmath Institute. United States: s.n.
Heartmath Institute, Heartmath.org. [Online]
Heartmath Institute, H. Heart Breathing Technique. s.l. example, n.d. s.l.
Henwood, S. & Soosalu, G., The three brains of leadership: harnessing the wisdom within. San Diego, ILA 16th Global Leadership Summit.
Pawula, S., n.d. Always well within.
Reynolds, M. Covisioning.com
Rouh, S. S., Unknown. Infinite love
Vanderpol, L. A shift in Being: The art and practices of deep transformational coaching. s.l.: Imaginal Lights Publishing.
Willard, J. Intuitive Being. New York: Harper Elixir.

Original source: https://coachcampus.com/coach-portfolios/research-papers/heart-intelligence/

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