Meditate Daily to Reduce Blood Pressure

In the United States, hypertension (chronic high blood pressure that can lead to heart disease and stroke) is most prevalent among African Americans. In fact, 34 percent of the African American population has high blood pressure—a rate higher than any other racial or ethnic group. A year-long study, reported in the American Journal of Hypertension, examined how three different interventions affected blood pressure among 150 African Americans with high blood pressure.

The participants were divided into three groups and were taught one of three different stress reduction techniques. One group learned how to practice transcendental meditation, a nonreligious technique that creates a wakeful state of relaxation, helping to reduce stress. A second group received instruction in progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), a technique that involves systematically tensing and relaxing muscles in order to relax the body and mind. The last received health education about lifestyle modifications that are known to reduce hypertension—healthy cooking, reducing sodium intake, losing weight, exercising, and stress reduction. Each group was told to practice these techniques on their own at home, along with attending an equal number of follow-up meetings each month.

After one year, the following results were established:
  • People who practiced transcendental meditation each day saw the greatest results: a 6-point drop is diastolic blood pressure and a 3-point drop in systolic blood pressure. Study authors say that these results are similar to results that patients on medication exhibit. However, 23 percent of the meditators were able to reduce their use of blood pressure medication.
  • Results were similar for the other two groups: a 3-point drop is diastolic blood pressure and no change in systolic blood pressure.
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Although this study looked at the African American population, these findings could apply to people of any race or ethnic background. These results also show that even though certain interventions might have better results than others, many factors can affect (and reduce) blood pressure besides medication alone. Taking steps to reduce stress, along with adhering to other treatment recommendations from your doctor (medication, dietary changes, exercise, etc.), could help you improve not only your physical health, but your mental outlook. To learn more about transcendental meditation, visit the official website www.tm.org.
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Member Comments

I'll go for meditating. TM however, is not the only game in towm.
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I am an African American who is on high blood pressure medication. I will begin to practice medication. Report
Interesting Report
MEDITATION CAN HELP. THE ROSARY IS A WONDERFUL CHOICE OF MEDITATION. Report
Good information. Very helpful! Report
CURLYMARIE--I was thinking the same things...thanks for your input.

YASHANI--Prayer is not "religious;" Prayer is spiritual.

SHIRKEYBOB1--My thoughts exactly. I will be researching contemplative prayer. Thanks! Report
Thank you very much, MACKYDEE, for the free instructions. I always found meditation intimidating, not wanting to chant OM and not able to clear my mind easily. I combined your suggestions with PMR (squeezing and releasing each muscle two times each to relax them) and now have a great new way to meditate and relax. My blood pressure thanks you! Report
The trick with this, for me, is that I tend to have rather low bp, as it is. I mean, it's borderline normal, but I can't get up on a dime without some dizziness. I used to meditate randomly and I'd get rather light headed while on my back...

What can meditation do for that? I wonder... Report
My husband and I both went through MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training with a local teacher. Books and DVDs are also available for those who prefer to do it alone or not having funds available to pay for a class.

As other's mentioned, it's really all about reducing the noise in our mind, not getting anxious about things from the past or things that "might" be in the future, just getting centered in the present. Some days you can do the same thing just by slowly counting to 10 while focusing on your breathing (grin). Report
shirleybob1, just wanted to give you a little feedback. Meditaion and Prayer are 2 seperate issues. Anyone reguardless of race, sect and religion can meditate, it has nothing to do with religion. There are some religions who do use meditation as part of there ritual. Now, as far as using a rosery this is a religious practice.( Meditation is Spiritual, Prayer is Religious.) Religion may not be for everyone that's on here, while Spirituality is an individuals choice. Report
I was disappointed that PRAYER wasn't mentioned. Report
I was jazzed to see an article about meditation, since I've been thinking of looking into it, but I was immediately turned off by the sales pitch. I like my advertising where I can see it - and ignore it if I want to. Jeepers. Report
MACKYDEE
Did you notice the cost for the TM classes (so that you will learn to do it "right") is $1,500. Absolutely ridiculous!!

Meditation is easy. One can learn to do it by reading a few simple steps. Relax in a quiet setting where you will not be disturbed. Breath deeply, close your eyes, hands on your lap with palms upward as if you are about to receive a gift (you are.)

Now just relax every part of your body as you breathe, starting with the crown of your head, your face, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, stomach, pelvic area, legs, knees, calves, feet, and up the back side of your body ending with the crown of your head. With each breath in, relax. With each exhale breathe out tension from each area as your awareness rests there. Simple!

It feels very good. Do it twice a day for 15 or 20 minutes. After awhile, you will be able to get into the meditative state just with a couple of breaths, or even while walking.

No charge. Report
SIRIRADHA
I agree with ShirleyBob1 that almost any meditative practice produces the same sort of drop in BP. That being said, I do find that my Buddhist metta meditation works best for me. I believe that this is because I do it for a longer stretch of time per session.

When I first started SP, my BP was dangerously high and I was on medication. I once measured my BP just after meditation and was surprised and delighted at how much it had dropped. It really, really works! With diet and exercise, my doctor told me my blood pressure was "perfect" at my last visit! Report
While I believe in the power of meditation and/or contemplation, I remember learning about the TM movement in a college course on cults. I did a brief websearch using the words 'transcendental meditation cult' and came up with some troubling information. Perhaps this article should include a disclaimer? Report


 

About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.