Meditation practices can be intimidating for a lot of people. In fact, just stepping foot inside a yoga studio is enough to send some people running for the door.
But, an estimated 1 in 3 American adults dies every year from heart complications, and the simple act of sitting down and focusing for a few moments may help you beat these odds.1
Here the top 5 benefits of meditation for a heart health:
Lower Blood Pressure
Transcendental meditation is a practice that dates back thousands of years to the Vedic traditions of India. Popularized in the 1960’s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental meditation programs have been used for centuries to reduce psychosocial stress – a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.
Numerous studies have confirmed the ability of transcendental meditation to reduce stress levels, thus also lowering blood pressure.2,3
Many people experience stressful situations, but if you are dealing with prolonged periods of stress (also known as chronic stress), you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic stress, potentially putting their health at risk. When stress is excessive, it can directly contribute to heart disease by raising blood pressure and even cholesterol levels.
Numerous clinical studies have shown that mindfulness meditations are effective in reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and distress.4,5
The loss of your good mood can hurt your cardiovascular health just as much as other risk factors. When your mood begins to affect your mind, your body enters a state of emergency readiness, elevating anxiety and sending nervous tension skyrocketing.
Lift your mood and lower the emergency response system in your body with a short meditation every day. Researchers have found mindfulness practices boost psychological health. In one study, meditators reported significantly higher levels of self-compassion, lower levels of fear and negative emotions, as well as higher levels of life satisfaction than those who did not practice.6-8
Are you ready to try a meditation? You can do this heart-awareness practice anywhere you are, right now.
Sit in an upright, comfortable position and close your eyes.
Become aware of your breathing, and place your focus on your heartbeat.
As you listen to your heart, do not be distracted by thoughts in your mind or sensations in your environment. Simply allow them to pass without losing your focus to them. If you find this difficult, repeat this phrase (mantra) when you become distracted: “Truth, consciousness, bliss.”
Do this for 5-10 minutes, then open your eyes.
Reducing Your Risk Factors of Heart Disease
Small lifestyle changes, such as beginning a meditation practice, can have a major impact on improving your cardiovascular disease risk. Here are the main risk factors to avoid in order improve your health, and maybe even save your life:
- Cigarette smoking
- Cholesterol imbalance (HDL “good” under 40, and LDL “bad” over 160)
- High blood pressure
- Not enough regular exercise
- Unhealthy diet
- High stress levels9
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Reduce your risk factors as soon as possible, and aim to meditate at least 15 minutes every day to further protect against cardiac events—as well as adapting other healthy practices in your life, such as losing weight, exercising and quitting smoking.
Meditation helps to reduce stress, but believe it or not, just sitting quietly can take some getting used to. So, be patient with yourself and start small. Dedicate yourself to a few minutes daily and it will pay off in a big way.
Keep reading for more helpful health news:
1. New statistics show one of every three U.S. deaths caused by cardiovascular disease. December 16, 2015 Categories.
2. Maxwell V. Rainforth, PhD, Robert H. Schneider, MD. Stress Reduction Programs in Patients with Elevated Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2007 December ; 9(6): 520–528.
3. Gianfranco Paratia, Andrew Steptoec. Stress reduction and blood pressure control in hypertension: a role for transcendental meditation?
4. Khoury B, Sharma M. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. J Psychosom Res. 2015 Jun;78(6):519-28.
5. Jain FA, Walsh RN. Critical Analysis of the Efficacy of Meditation Therapies for Acute and Subacute Phase Treatment of Depressive Disorders: A systematic Review. Psychosomatics. 56 (2): 297–302.
6. Shian-Ling Keng, Moria J. Smoski. Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies. Clin Psychol Rev. Jun 11.
7. Strauss C, Cavanagh K. Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People Diagnosed with a Current Episode of an Anxiety or Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. PLoS ONE. 9 (4): e96110.
8. Jain FA, Walsh RN, Eisendrath SJ. Critical Analysis of the Efficacy of Meditation Therapies for Acute and Subacute Phase Treatment of Depressive Disorders: A systematic Review. Psychosomatics. 56 (2): 297–302.