Ann Baldwin, PhD, professor of physiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has received the 2018 Humanitarian Heart Award from the HeartMath Institute in recognition of her work toward the healing, enrichment and well-being of others.
A physiology research scientist and horsewoman, Dr. Baldwin teaches a UA undergraduate course, “Physiology of Mind-Body Interactions,” in which students learn to take control of their stress response and maximize their cognitive skills using horses and HeartMath Institute techniques and devices. “This provides the students an invaluable life skill they can take with them as they move on to further education, training and careers,” she said.
Currently, Dr. Baldwin is working on a research project at a local assisted-living facility where the residents are encouraged to engage with horses on site. She and her UA undergraduate students prepare the residents for the interaction using “heart-focused breathing,” a simple stress-reduction practice that involves consciously focusing on the heart while calmly breathing with an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. The students take physiological measurements from the horses and residents using HeartMath devices before, during and after the activity.
“It is amazing how much more enlivened and outgoing the residents become after engaging with the horses,” she said. “In addition, I have seen high blood pressure fall and improvements in heart rate and nervous system regulation.
Dr. Baldwin became interested in mind-body balance and stress reduction after moving to a new laboratory space. She realized the extent to which stress could affect the body and the importance of controlling it when she saw the reaction of the laboratory rats. “They were stressed by the excessive noise and the business of people coming in and out of the rooms all day long,” she said.
Dr. Baldwin, a certified HeartMath coach and trainer, started her business, Mind-Body-Science, using Reiki, equine therapy and the latest technologies and techniques of biofeedback and HeartMath to help people and animals reduce stress.
HeartMath Institute is a research and education organization that researches and develops tools and programs to bridge the connection between the heart and mind. HeartMath Institute methodologies focus on restoring mental, emotional and physical balance.