In the hustle and bustle of 21st-century living, more and more people are turning back the hands of time and using meditation to find relief from modern-day stressors. On the surface, the simple act of sitting and focusing on the breath may not appear to be all that powerful, but the scientific research tells a different story.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the impact of meditation on blood pressure, and whether or not taking a few minutes of peace and quiet could really indeed support your cardiovascular health.
The Importance of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is essentially the force our blood exerts on the walls of our arteries. Normal levels are typically in the range of 120/80 mm Hg, with higher readings potentially having a negative impact on our cardiovascular system.
The causes of high blood pressure are often multi-faceted and occasionally unknown. Lifestyle factors such as diet, bodyweight & even our stress levels are thought to play a role. With the art of meditation linked to a reduction in stress, could the practice also help to regulate blood pressure?
The Science Behind Meditation and Blood Pressure
A review of transcendental meditation (mantra-based) studies showed a marked improved in blood pressure with regular practice, potentially reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure by ∼4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively.
It’s not just the transcendental type that’s beneficial. Further studies have looked at both mindfulness and non-transcendental meditation forms, which both show a notable decrease in blood pressure.
Even though there may be slightly different benefits from the types of meditation, the main takeaway is to pick a practice that resonates with you to ensure consistency.
Meditation May Support Overall Cardiovascular Function
Aside from blood pressure, meditation interventions positively correlated with reduced insulin resistance, improved heart rate variability, reduced mortality risk in coronary heart disease patients and a higher survival rate in the elderly.
It’s clear that there’s no one single benefit to meditation. The science suggests it contributes to various heart-related factors making it a worthwhile practice to incorporate in your daily routine
Meditation is Just One Piece of the Puzzle
Whilst the research is compelling, meditation is just one piece of the wellness puzzle. Studies have also shown that reducing salt and consuming a nutrient-dense diet also contribute to blood pressure reduction.
Although there’s much speculation about the causes of hypertension, it seems that a holistic approach is the best way to support healthy blood pressure levels.
How To Begin Meditating
Adopting a meditation practice is simple. Just 10 minutes a day is all it takes to get started.
Whether you prefer to let a wave of calm wash over you first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or before bedtime, it’s all about creating a routine that best fits in with your lifestyle.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there that make meditation easier than ever.
Here are 5 of our recommendations to get you going:
- Waking Up
- Guided Meditations with Tara Brach
- This one’s all you. Simply set a 10-minute alarm, sit peacefully and focus on breathing. All the way in, all the way out. One breath at a time.
It’s important to note that there’s no “right” way to meditate. Sometimes we’ll be more busy minded, other days we’ll have more focus. The key is to show up and maintain consistency.
Over time it’ll become easier. The mind will become clearer, you’ll remain more focussed and you might see the benefits crossover in other areas of your life too.