Heart disease

Say “Om” and meditate for heart health

Meditation not only calms your mind and reduces stress, but reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Research shows impact of meditation on heart health

“With the benefits of the technique verified by over 600 scientific research studies the TM technique is the most widely researched meditation practice.”

A November 2012 study conducted by Robert Schneider, M.D., director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention and dean of Maharishi College of Perfect Health in Fairfield, Iowa, showed that subjects with heart disease, who practiced transcendental teditation regularly for five years were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes, compared with those who attended a health education class in lieu of yoga.

“It appears that transcendental meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy — to repair and maintain itself,” said Schneider. He also adds that transcendental meditation may reduce heart disease risks for both healthy people and those with diagnosed heart conditions.

Transcendental meditation (TM): Getting started

Want to try meditation, but not sure where to start? We asked meditation teacher Jeanne Ball to share her tips on how to begin and what to expect.

woman meditatingSheKnows: What should a person do physically to prepare for transcendental meditation?

Jeanne Ball: A person doesn’t need to do anything to prepare for the TM technique, except sit comfortably and close the eyes, because with this particular practice one quickly, naturally transcends the physical environment and dives deep within the mind to enjoy inner silence, peace and expanded wakefulness. It’s nice if there’s a quiet environment, though not essential. One can effortlessly practice TM in an airport, in the same house with kids running around, or at the office during break.

The deeper reason why no preparation is necessary is because the technique is motivated only by the mind’s natural tendency that is always lively within everyone: the tendency to seek greater happiness. During TM, there’s no outside preparation or internal effort required, because attention settles inward spontaneously, drawn by the mind’s own nature, to fields of greater happiness and dynamism, and there’s no obstacle to that natural inward progression.

SK: What should a person think about while they’re meditating?

JB: Practicing the TM technique is very easy because the process doesn’t require you to think about peace or happiness or anything in particular. Nor does it involve controlling the mind or trying to rid yourself of thoughts. The technique is designed to effortlessly allow the mind to settle inward to quieter levels of thought in the direction of greater energy and happiness within. The mind naturally gravitates to its silent source of restfulness and goes beyond thought all together.

“The only way to take care of the whole tree is to water the root.”

SK: How do you help people let go of their thoughts during meditation?

JB: If a person consciously tries to let go of thoughts, to get beyond thoughts or forcefully get rid of them, it’s called “straining in meditation” and usually only creates more thoughts and often causes a headache. That’s not the TM technique. With TM, we don’t control the mind, we satisfy the mind. The technique is designed such that thoughts are not a problem at all and the mind effortlessly settles into the silent, rejuvenating experience of pure awareness or restful alertness, in which all thoughts and mental activity have been transcended.

SK: How long and how often should a beginner practice meditating?

JB: Twenty minutes of the TM technique morning and afternoon is enough to balance a full day of activity and to dissolve stress and revitalize mind and body.

SK: What benefits can someone expect to experience from meditation?

JB: The same benefits that a tree receives when its roots are watered: every branch, leaf, fruit, stem —everything gets enriched. The founder of the TM program, Maharishi, used to say, “The only way to take care of the whole tree is to water the root.” This means: deep within everyone is a transcendental source of energy, creativity and intelligence, and if we can restore direct contact with that inner source by diving beyond thought and contacting our deepest inner self, then we will enrich all aspects of life in one stroke. People find their physical and mental health improves, their relationships become more harmonious, they have more energy and become more productive. Peace and happiness grows naturally from within. We find ourselves enjoying life more, and, as perception becomes clearer, finding more joy and beauty all around us.

Quick tip: If you find it difficult to meditate on your own, try Headspace, a meditation app created by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. Headspace lets you try 10 days of 10-minute meditation exercises for free.

“With the benefits of the technique verified by over 600 scientific research studies,” explains Ball, “the TM technique is the most widely researched meditation practice.” She says some of the specific benefits found by researchers are:

  • Reduction of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Reduction of the aging process
  • Improvement of brain functioning
  • Reduction in symptoms of ADD
  • Reduction of heart attack and stroke
  • Reduction of high blood pressure
  • Decrease in neuroticism
  • Increase in happiness, tolerance and intelligence

For additional information and resources, Ball recommends visiting www.tm-women.org where you can read more about TM and women’s heart health.

More heart health advice

Best apps for monitoring your heart health
Yoga for a healthier heart
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Say “Om” and meditate for heart health.

For Heart Disease Patients, Meditation Can Be a Lifesaver, Study Finds | Timi Gustafson RD – seattlepi.com

New research, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), found that people with heart disease who regularly meditate may be able to reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke nearly by half.

For the study, which was published in the journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease patients were enrolled in a stress-reducing program based on Transcendental Meditation (TM). The participants were required to meditate for about 20 minutes twice a day, practicing specific techniques that allowed their bodies and minds to experience a sense of deep rest and relaxation.

“Transcendental Meditation is a simple, effortless and natural way to settle down to a quiet state of mind,” said Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, a research institute at the Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, and leader of the program.

But achieving calmness and emotional balance are not the only potential benefits. Meditating can have a positive impact on the body as well, such as lowering blood pressure, and can thereby play an important role in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular disease. “It’s a way to utilize the body’s own internal pharmacy,” said Dr. Schneider in an interview with WebMD.

Meditation has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years all around the globe. Practitioners use it to reach a state of tranquility, inner peace, awareness and balance but also for the treatment of medical conditions, especially when they are aggravated by stress and anxiety.

Transcendental meditation, as applied in the study, is only one of many types of the practice. Yoga, which focuses on posture and breathing exercises, primarily for physical flexibility, can also help relax the mind and reduce stress.

“Those who meditate can choose among a wide range of practices, both religious and secular,” said Dr. Charles L. Raison, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, who participated in a study on the healing effects of meditation on both body and mind. “What they have in common is a narrowing of focus that shuts out the external world, which usually [also] stills the body.”

Some experts have warned that drawing conclusions like these may be premature. Dr. Britta Hölzel, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School who studied mindful meditation practices, finds it hard to pinpoint the benefits of meditation. “The field is very, very young, and we don’t really know enough about it yet,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. “I would say these are still quite preliminary findings. We see that there is something there, but we have to replicate these findings and find out what they really mean.”

Still she acknowledges that meditating can increase a sense of well-being and improve the quality of life, even if it’s hard to determine how precisely these effects come about. And she agrees that meditation has its place if for no other reason than to provide some much needed rest.

“It does not require any particular education and does not conflict with lifestyle, philosophy or beliefs,” said Dr. Schneider. “It’s a straightforward technique [that] helps to reset the body’s own self-repair and homeostatic mechanisms.” That’s a lot for the simple act of sitting still.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy reading “Self-Care for Heart Disease Patients.”

Timi Gustafson R.D. is a registered dietitian, newspaper columnist, blogger and author of the book “The Healthy Diner – How to Eat Right and Still Have Fun”®, which is available on her blog, “Food and Health with Timi Gustafson R.D.”, and at amazon.com. You can follow Timi on Twitter and on Facebook.

via For Heart Disease Patients, Meditation Can Be a Lifesaver, Study Finds | Timi Gustafson RD – seattlepi.com.

Feeling dumber? Meditate on it – The Edmond Sun

Feeling dumber? Meditate on it

Mike Hinkle Special to The Sun

EDMOND — There’s good news and bad news in the science world this week. On one hand, scientists tell us there’s evidence suggesting humans are becoming more stupid over time. That’s bad news. On the other hand, different scientists report that people with heart disease can lower their blood pressure, experience less stress and reduce death risk by practicing transcendental meditation. That’s good news for heart patients. There’s also good news for those without heart disease. A third group of scientists report that meditation techniques may have a beneficial effects on brain function that continues even after the meditation session ends.Assuming all this news is correct, we may all be gradually getting stupider, but if we meditate, we don’t have to be upset about it. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

via Feeling dumber? Meditate on it » Opinion » The Edmond Sun.