Hypertension or high blood pressure is considered to be a lifestyle disease. It gets exacerbated when you are stressed or under undue mental tension.
According to CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million American adults (29%) have a high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 American adults. It greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. These figures are no doubt alarming and efforts are being made by government agencies to minimize such cases on a war footing.
However, there seems to be little respite from the scourge of hypertension. Also, you need not look far looking for reasons. Consumption of appallingly high-calorie junk food, a sedentary lifestyle, topped by a load of heavy duty stress leads directly to the path of high blood pressure.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and hypertension
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to determine whether Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is more effective in controlling hypertension compared to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) training. In this trial conducted on fifty-seven patients, MBSR resulted in a reduction in clinic SBP and DBP compared with PMR. Though the sample is considerably small to draw a conclusive inference. It’s apparent that meditation techniques may have a positive impact on the reduction of blood pressure.
Meditation and mindfulness develop resilience which allows you to deal with stress and anxiety better. Self-awareness creates a psychological flywheel which absorbs stress effectively. However, you are more in control of your emotions. You don’t get angry or frustrated by trivial issues which are the primary cause of high blood pressure. You might also have noticed that a sudden burst of temper leads to a spike in your blood pressure. This is the reason why people suffer from strokes which are life-threatening.
Meditation smoothens the spikes in emotion and you are better able to manage your mental landscape. You must understand that meditation alone, by itself, cannot provide sufficient relief from high blood pressure. You have to make lifestyle adjustments to get real benefit from meditation. A proper diet combined with a work-life balance is essential to manage hypertension. Also, excess weight and poor dietary habits contribute considerably towards elevated blood pressure.
Transcendental meditation to manage blood pressure
Robert Schneider, MD, claims that approximately 600 studies have been conducted worldwide on the effects of transcendental meditation on blood pressure over the past thirty years. He goes on to say that TM or Transcendental meditation, is a simple mind-body technique that allows you to gain a unique state of restful awareness or alertness. Transcendental meditation triggers biochemical mechanism in your body which allows the body and mind to reach a calmer state. The self-healing mechanism in your body works to reduce the underlying issues related to hypertension.
Though TM or Transcendental meditation techniques use repetition of a phrase or mantra. Therefore, you should not confuse this with religious practices. The TM program is not Hinduism, any more than Einstein’s theory of relativity is the Jewish, or Genetic theory, conceived by Gregor Mendel is considered to be Christian. TM is a program which is derived from ancient Indian health practices but has no connection with Hindu or Buddhist religion.
Salt in your food is likely to increase your blood pressure. Consumption of excess alcohol and junk food contribute to hypertension. In addition to Transcendental meditation practice, you must also pay attention to your diet if you want to gain control over your rising blood pressure. Use of fresh poultry, lean meat and plenty of vegetables providing roughage and fiber will provide succor to your suffering.
Telomeres, Stress, Meditation, and Hypertension
Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that protect our genetic data. Telomerase is an enzyme consisting of protein and RNA units that elongate chromosomes by adding sequences to the ends. Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA along with his team conducted a pilot study consisting of 48 black men and women with hypertension.
One half of the group was focused on lifestyle modification, while the other half was exposed to TM. After sixteen weeks results showed that both groups showed significant increases in telomerase gene expression and reduction in blood pressure. The study suggests that TM, as well as lifestyle modification, leading to increased gene expression which reduces blood pressure.
Hypertension can be a potential killer if not managed properly. Research on meditation and mindfulness techniques has shown promise in reducing high blood pressure. In addition to meditation, you should also ensure proper diet to experience a healthy life. Lifestyle adjustment, moderation in consumption of alcohol, exercise, and healthy relationships lead to better control over blood pressure. The risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and heart failure can be minimized with meditation and mindfulness.
AUTHOR BIO: Michael Arslan & Peter Chipkin
Peter Chipkin is the president of Ease Guided Meditation – a new app that brings you to over 70 guided meditations instantly! Michael Arslan is the website manager and Social Media manager for Ease. Please check us out on our website at https://www.easemeditation.com/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/EaseMeditation