Can Meditation Prevent Heart Disease?
The connection of body and mind has been an integral part of human beings since time immemorial. For decades, the center of focus with regard to meditation has been heart attack, stroke and hypertension. With the addition of new dimensions of heart such as love, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, etc. more emphasis is being laid in promoting meditation as an effective tool against heart-related diseases.
Till date, research on this subject has been fairly limited, but some studies suggest that embracing meditation practice might strengthen your defense against cardiovascular diseases.
Can meditation prevent heart diseases?
Stress has been known as the culprit of all the heart-related diseases and meditation is the practice that addresses this risk factor.
Actually, the whole system including how you breathe, think and feel is directly connected or say meet at the sensitive spot known as ‘heart’.
Various statistics have shown that any sudden or major emotional shock in your life can significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
Meditation may speed up activity in the parasympathetic nervous system involved in lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Studies about relation of Meditation with Heart Health
There have been several studies on this topic and data does shed some light. A few examples are as follows:
- According to a ground-breaking study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish of Harvard Medical School, a holistic lifestyle program including meditation, exercise, diet, stress management could actually reverse the fatty plaques of arteries, the leading cause of heart disease.
- Another study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 62 adults have found meditation as a tool to help lower blood pressure and increase in the functioning of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (a measure of parasympathetic nervous system activity)
- A study published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine involving 82 people with no prior experience in meditation, found that 3 sessions (1 hour each) of mindfulness meditation can improve mood, ease fatigue and decrease heart rate.
- Some studies suggest reciting a mantra can help fight atherosclerosis, promote smoking cessation (a risk factor) improving the overall heart health. This type of meditation is known as transcendental meditation.
- Another significant aspect of mind-body connection was published in journal Science, exploring how the contact with nature can actually aid in recovering process after surgery.
In this study, a group of post-surgery patients was examined in which one group was shown the view of park from their hospital beds while the other group was shown a wall. The results showed that those people who viewed park from their beds required less pain medication in comparison to those were shown a wall.
Can we embrace meditation as a fight against heart disease?
There is hardly any doubt that stress reduction has a positive impact on our health. Taking this perspective in mind, it is a good step to take up meditation as part of the daily lifestyle. Yoga, tai-chi, relaxation and breathing techniques might help in easing your stress.
But it should be kept in mind that replacing standard heart treatment with meditation or any other alternative treatment could have serious health outcomes. If you are really interested to adopt meditation, consult your doctor on how to integrate meditation into your regular health routine.