Cooling It

Press on a new hyertension meta-study:

Ponder This: Meditation Can Lower High Blood Pressure

David O’Hara

(David O’Hara is a writer and researcher in the field of natural health. He is a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz and has traveled extensively. He lives with his wife in the south of Spain.)

According to a recent report in the American Journal of Hypertension, meditation really can lower your blood pressure. Of course, its practitioners have known this for years but now their claims have some high-level reinforcement.Many earlier studies also lent support to meditation for blood pressure reduction but an influential report published in 2007 refuted this. It concluded that research on meditation is low quality and found that there was little evidence that stress reduction effectively lowers blood pressure.But the new study, published in March 2008, is especially significant as a review, or meta-study, of previous trials conducted on the influence of meditation and other forms of relaxation on blood pressure. The trials used all had to meet strict criteria for high-quality scientific research and they show that meditation produces “statistically significant” reductions in blood pressure.

The Benefits of Meditation

The compiled studies show that practicing transcendental meditation lowered blood pressure by an average of nearly 5 points systolic and 3.2 points diastolic. Participants claim that reductions would be even greater if readings had been taken in the home environment and without the disruption caused by frequent blood pressure readings during the tests.

These reductions may not seem like a lot but they are actually comparable to results obtained by some blood pressure medications. Both researchers and practitioners believe that meditation of this type helps to relax and open blood vessels, which results in lower blood pressure. The study’s author, Dr. James W. Anderson, explains: “adding transcendental meditation is about equivalent to adding a second antihypertension agent to one’s current regimen, only safer and less troublesome.”

Meditation vs. other Methods of Relaxation

Interestingly, the research shows that not all forms of relaxation produce the same blood pressure results as meditation, particularly the variety known as transcendental meditation. This fact may have influenced the 2007 study, which concluded that relaxation had no lasting effects on blood pressure.

Transcendental meditation, however, is different from other forms of merely passive relaxation. For one thing, transcendental meditation does not involve focus or concentration and is therefore a purer form of relaxation.

But a more important way in which transcendental meditation differs from simple relaxation is in its use of regulated breathing. Passive relaxation alone tends to have only temporary results. But relaxation combined with a therapeutic method of breathing, often called slow breathing, is clinically proven to produce powerful and lasting drops in high blood pressure. This could well be the magic ingredient that makes transcendental meditation especially effective in controlling hypertension.

Alternatives to Meditation

But what if you’re not especially keen on meditation? Or what if you just want to emphasize the breathing part of it and get the maximum benefits for your blood pressure?

In that case a new method called slow breathing with music may be just the thing. Slow breathing with music combines breathing techniques clinically optimized to lower high blood pressure with relaxing music. It provides the intensive relaxation of meditation along with proven blood pressure reductions that average 16 points systolic over 8 points diastolic. Slow breathing with music has been shown especially effective with hypertensives who have proved resistant to other forms of treatment.

It’s true. Meditation can lower blood pressure. Or, more specifically, techniques that combine deep relaxation with therapeutic breathing can result in significant and lasting blood pressure reductions… and without the dangers and side effects of hypertension medications.

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/58210   (this site went offline in Dec. 2013)
[it worth observing that breathing exercises can help with hypertension but meditation has more long term benefits typically. Indeed, a full meditation practice often begins with a few minutes of slow breathing exercise to prepare for deeper meditation. These are 2 of the 8 limbs of Yoga of Patanjali}
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3 Responses to Cooling It

  1. David,

    I also found that taking deep breadth and releasing it with letting go focus relives my mind and body of stress cumulated over the day. Great post.

    Shilpan

  2. Davidya says:

    Yes, breathing is the flow of life through us. Prana they call it in India. Patanjali mentions Pranayama as a key practice. It is an alternate nostril breathing that can be done quickly to enliven, and slowly to settle.

  3. Pingback: Egos and Cults « In 2 Deep

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