The practice of meditation has long been used for the purposes of stress reduction. Transcendental meditation, for example, handed down by Vedic masters in India from generation to generation for thousands of years involves reducing stress by experiencing a state of restful consciousness.
Recently, medical science has been looking at meditation practices and how they impact physical health. Cardiovascular disease, as a leading cause of death in the United States and Worldwide, is of particular interest in the medical community. The psychosocial and environmental stressors that are potential contributing factors to cardiovascular disease, may be impacted by meditation practice.
Robert H. Schneider, M.D., from the Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, and colleagues investigated the effect of stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, in 201 African American patients with CHD. Between 1998 and 2007, study participants either engaged in meditation techniques for 20 minutes twice per day, or spent the same amount of time practicing other heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors that they were taught in a cardiovascular health education program.
The researchers found that the group practicing meditation had a lower risk, compared with the control group, of experiencing the combined endpoint of cardiovascular events that included myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke, or death. This group also experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure.
The Transcendental Meditation Technique (TM) used in this study is a simple process of sitting for 15-20 minutes a day in a chair with your eyes closed. Although it has differences from other meditation techniques, it is not the only meditation practice that can reduce stress. For example, research at Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program has found consistent reductions in medical and psychological symptoms across a wide variety of disorders.
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