Meditation is not just a Hollywood fad. Mediation is, in fact, a proven way to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and lower anxiety. Meditation has also been shown to make people happier. I mean, do you need a better reason?
Today’s blog comes from U.S. News and World Report, outlining a new study which found that just one hour of meditation helped reduce anxiety and improve heart health:
ONE HOUR OF MEDITATION can ease anxiety and improve cardiovascular health, a study from Michigan Technological University found.
In a student-led study at the university, researchers found that just one hour of mindful meditation reduced feelings of anxiety in participants and reduced some heart health risk factors. Adults with mild to moderate anxiety felt psychological relief from just one session of one-hour meditation.
After meditating for 60 minutes, researchers observed the participants had lowered heart rates and a reduction in aortic pulsatile load. Additionally, participants reported their anxiety levels were still lower a week later.
Many studies conducted on the effects of long-term meditation have found it reduces anxiety. However, few have been conducted on short-term meditation. John Durocher, assistant professor of biological sciences at the university, and his team wanted to explore “the effect of acute mindfulness on cognition and the cardiovascular system to improve how anti-anxiety therapies and interventions are designed,” according to a press release from Michigan Technological University.
“Even a single hour of meditation appears to reduce anxiety and some of the markers for cardiovascular risk,” Durocher said.
During the 60-minute session, participants meditated for 20 minutes and then were instructed to do a 30-minute “body scan.” They were asked to intensely focus on one part of their body at a time, beginning with their toes. The exercise is designed to help train their mind to pivot from detailed attention to a more broad awareness. They ended the session with 10 minutes of self-guided meditation.
“The point of a body scan is that if you can focus on one single part of your body, just your big toe, it can make it much easier for you to deal with something stressful in your life. You can learn to focus on one part of it rather than stressing about everything else in your life,” said Hannah Marti, a recent university graduate who designed the study.
Researchers will present the study, Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Aortic Pulsatile Load and Anxiety in Mild to Moderately Anxious Adults at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting next week. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health awarded Durocher almost half a million dollars to continue this research.
There are several ways to lower your high blood pressure in order to maintain a healthy heart, but meditation for heart health has been becoming more popular with people who have high blood pressure. There are countless types and ways to meditate, but here are a few for beginners and meditations for heart health specifically.
1. The most common type of meditation is mindfulness meditation. This type helps you become aware of the different sounds and activities that surround you. This is more of a free-flowing meditation process because you let your mind simply flow from one thought to another, without focusing on one specific thing.
2. Focused meditation is a form of meditation that is used to help clear your head. This is a great form of meditation for heart health because it allows you to focus on one sound, object, or thought. During this meditation, it is good to have some relaxing music playing softly in the background. This will help you with the focusing on one thing and not let your mind wander, which in the end will help you feel relaxed.
3. Mantra meditation is when you loudly chant words during the meditation. It does sound odd to be making loud noises and chanting during a meditation, but it is another way of helping you focus since what is being chanted is what you are focusing on along with the sounds of that chant.
4. Another top choice for meditation for heart health is movement meditation. This is because the movements you are doing are not only relaxing, but also uplifting. By simply focusing on one movement, whether it is swaying left and right or back and forth, you are creating a slow and therapeutic motion.
There are many more types of meditation that one can try. The thing that is important with meditation for heart health is being able to find the one that works best for you. Try various types of meditation until you find the one that makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. A lot of people focus in different ways and that’s why there are so many kinds, because there is one that is bound to suit you and your relaxing needs.