Meditation is one of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Meditation involves focusing your mind to achieve a state of relaxation and heightened awareness. This focus on a particular object or visualisation helps to screen out distractions so you enter a meditative state which naturally brings your blood pressure down.
Transcendental meditation for high blood pressure
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is one of the most effective forms of meditation for lowering a high blood pressure.
A study published in Hypertension – the Journal of the American Heart Association – showed that when people with high blood pressure practised transcendental meditation every day for 3 months, their blood pressure lowered by an average of 10/6 mmHg in women and 13/8 mm Hg in men – better than the effects of most prescribed high blood pressure treatment!
Later trials published in the American Journal of Cardiology compared transcendental meditation with usual antihypertensive treatment in over 200 people, aged 55 years or more, who were followed for an average of 8 years. The results were astonishing.
People with hypertension who practised transcendental meditation were 23% less likely to die, from any medical cause, during the follow-up period than those who did not practice meditation. This included:
- a 30% lower risk of experiencing a fatal heart attack or stroke
- a 49% lower risk of dying from cancer.
The researchers concluded that these beneficial effects on blood pressure and mortality were due to the specific way in which transcendental meditation reduces stress in people with high blood pressure.
Medical research involving transcendental meditation and high blood pressure is discussed in the following presentation which discusses the American Heart Association’s recommendation for alternative treatments that include transcendental meditation to lower a high blood pressure.
How to do transcendental meditation
Transcendental meditation was developed to fit into a busy, modern lifestyle. You practise it for 20 minutes, twice a day, while sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.
In its original form, transcendental meditation uses a variety of Sanskrit mantras – a short word or phrase – that is repeated in the mind to help still your thoughts and guide you towards a deeper level of consciousness in which you achieve deep relaxation while maintaining a restful alertness. This leaves you feeling refreshed, calm and able to think more clearly.
Relaxation Response Meditation is a westernised form of meditation which uses the principles of transcendental meditation without the Eastern spiritual context. Instead of Sanskrit mantras you choose words that are rooted in your own belief system, and relaxation exercises are combined with western phrases such as ‘Calm’ or ‘Peace’.
You don’t need to pay for a course to learn this form of meditation – there are plenty of free guides on-line such as the following, simple introduction on how to do transcendental meditation as a natural remedy.
For those who don’t like a structured approach, or don’t feel they have time to sit with their eyes closed, quieting that little voice in their head, mindfulness meditation is a good alternative natural remedy for high blood pressure.
Mindfulness encourages you to focus on the present moment. You pay close attention to everyday activities such as preparing food, or walking, concentrating on the sensations, textures, colours, smells and sounds involved. This prevents your mind spinning off and dwelling on potentially negative and stressful thoughts.
Mindfulness can help you relax and lower your blood pressure while you eat, perform houseful chores, gardening, or any repetitive task.
Results from 11 clinical trials in people with cardiac disease show that practices such as mindfulness meditation can significantly improve physical quality of life, mental quality of life, anxiety and depression, as well as lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Studies have found that mindful meditation can reduce a high blood pressure by around 5/11 mmHg.
How to do mindful meditation
Mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment and often uses breathing to help you relax. Sit comfortably, breathing slowly and deeply in a relaxed manner. Close your eyes and begin to notice your breath.
Without making any changes to how you breathe, notice how air flows in through your nose and fills your lungs.
Follow the flow of the air and notice how your chest rises and falls naturally as you breathe. When you focus on your breath you are always focussed on the present.
As you breath out, allow any tension to go with it.
The following guided meditation will show you how to do mindful meditation.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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