Meditation has been shown to lower your risk for heart disease. Meditation is defined as engagement in mental exercise (for example concentrating on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
There are several forms of meditation available. These include transcendental meditation, mindful meditation, Qigong meditation, and devotional meditation. Each method strives in its own way to bring you into the present moment and ultimately results in a reduced stress level.
In the 1970’s, medical researchers at Harvard University reported that the act of meditation causes the body to go into a deeper restful state than what is experienced with sleep, resulting in stress reduction. Stress, over a long period of time can be very damaging to your body. When you are under stress, your body produces a hormone called adrenalin. This is innate in all animals and is responsible for the “fight” or “flight” response experienced when faced with imminent danger. This increase in adrenalin causes increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rates, which is helpful in the short term when attempting to get out of an impending dangerous situation. Long term exposure to this hormone, as we experience with the stress of everyday life can increase your risk for heart disease. For those who are already at high risk for heart disease, chronic exposure to these hormones can cause a sudden cardiac event that can potentially be lethal. Meditation can help decrease the stress in your life, provide a more restful sleep and help save your life.
Of the different forms of meditations, transcendental meditation has been shown to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke as seen in a recent study published in 2012. The study showed a 48% reduction in risk in those who participated in meditation compared to those who did not.
To meditate, you should find a quiet place in your home where you will not be disturbed. Doing a minimum of 20 minutes a day has beneficial health effects. If you can fit it into your schedule twice a day it is even better. You can make it the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you do before you go to bed at night. Think of it as time to relax and rejuvenate your body mind and spirit. You are investing time into a healthier YOU.
Although meditation has been shown to decrease your risk for heart disease, you should remember that it should not be used to replace lifestyle modification habits like increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a heart healthy diet and/or quitting smoking. It should be used in addition to these lifestyle changes.