Is Meditation Good for Your Heart?

According to several studies, the answer is yes.

A study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association found that the mental relaxation produced by the practice of transcendental meditation (TM) may provide physiological benefits.

Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, followed about 200 high-risk patients for an average of five years. Among the 100 volunteers who practiced transcendental meditation, 20 suffered heart attacks, strokes and deaths, while 32 in the comparison group had those experiences. In addition, the participants in the TM group remained disease-free longer and had lower blood pressure levels. According to the researchers, the stress reduction produced by meditation could cause changes in the brain that lower stress hormones like cortisol (a steroid hormone, also known as the "stress hormone") and tamper the inflammatory processes linked to atherosclerosis.

A meta-analysis of nine randomized, controlled trials using transcendental meditation as a primary intervention for patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) by researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, also found that the technique reduced blood pressure and may result in lower risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in which fatty material collects around the walls of the arteries without the use of medication.

If you suffer from high blood pressure or have other risks for heart disease, ask your doctor if practicing transcendental meditation could benefit you.

How Transcendental Meditation Is Done

The practice of transcendental meditation first came into vogue in the 1970s by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Beatles. The technique usually requires spending between 15 and 20 minutes each day, sitting comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed and allowing your mind to go inward to create a level of conscious relaxation.

Reducing High Blood Pressure-Naturally

In addition to meditation, making some lifestyle changes can also help lower high blood pressure (a systolic pressure of 140 or above or a diastolic pressure of 90 or above). Here are three to try:

1. Lose weight. Shedding just 10 pounds can reduce blood pressure levels.

2. Exercise regularly. Engaging in regular physical activity at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

3. Eat a healthy diet. Adopting a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy products, and one that eliminates foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol can result in a reducing your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.


American Heart Association. "Meditation Impacts Blood Pressure."

The Transcendental Meditation Program.

Mayo Clinic. "10 Ways to Control High Blood Pressure Without Medication."