Cardiovascular diseases cause the death of more people than any other condition.
It’s a well-known fact that there is a connection between heart problems and stress. Psychological stress increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and the axis “hypothalamus-hypophysis-adrenal glands”.
What Does This Mean?
Basically, stress is the body’s adaptive reaction that helps to mobilize its resources.
Stressful situations cause increased secretion of adrenaline – the adrenal glands start working at full strength and the hormonal system experiences overexertion which results in increased heart rate, cardiac output and blood pressure as well as in blood vessel narrowing.
One can imagine what kind of overload the body faces when it’s in constant stress, which is usually aggravated by sleeplessness and unhealthy eating.
The activation of all these mechanisms accelerates the development of atherosclerosis and can promote the progression of angina pectoris, ischemic heart disease and stroke.
Moreover, these processes lead to hypertension that can significantly increase the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction as well. Actually, chronic stress is a highway to stroke.
Most often we cannot change stressful situations; however, we can control our reaction to such situations.
Relaxation brought by meditation helps to lower blood pressure and improves heart rhythm, breathing and brain waves. There are enough scientific data proving the benefits of meditation.
It’s a useful tool in coping with the consequences of stress that provoke cardiovascular complications, which is particularly true for those living in megalopolises.
Meditation is an intensive contemplation penetrating deep into one’s mind, immersion of consciousness into the essence of an object or idea, which can be achieved by concentrating on one thing and eliminating all disturbing factors, both external and internal.
A prerequisite for meditation is the cessation of internal dialogue, a conversation that we are constantly carrying on with ourselves.
The common ground in meditation is the presence of a stimulus or an object a meditator can concentrate his or her attention on.
There are three basic types of meditation depending on the objects of concentration:
- Constant mental stimulus (mantra in transcendental meditation): a word or phrase, a poetic passage or a folk song text repeated silently many times
- Physical action: repeated breathing actions (counting inhalations and exhalations). Some peoples of the East use prolonged round dances with repeated movements as an object of meditation
- Visual image: a picture, image, candle flame, tree leaf, mandala (a geometric figure – a square inside a circle that symbolizes the unity of all existence)
Starting from the 60’s, Westerners have grown fond of these techniques. Since then, scientists have conducted a great deal of researches concerning the influence of meditation on the human body.
There has been found a connection between meditation and changes in metabolism, blood pressure, brain activity and mental processes.
For example, the researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin decided to explore the effects of transcendental meditation, the one that involves concentration on a single sound like “Om”.
They asked 201 cardiac patients to practice transcendental meditation for about 20 minutes twice a day. The study results showed that the incidence of strokes, myocardial infarctions and death from any cause fell by half in meditators.
The numbers were impressive: mortality was 48% lower than in the control group who adhered to traditional health recommendations (exercises and healthy diet).
The participants who practiced meditation reported reduced levels of stress, irritability and lowered blood pressure.
Another study explored the effect of transcendental meditation on hypertensive patients; it showed that in those who practiced meditation systolic blood pressure decreased by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic – by 3.2 mmHg.
Meditation also helped to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Scientists believe that meditation releases hidden resources of our body so it could start healing itself.
There is a consistent pattern – the more a person meditates, the lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases is. And that’s quite logical.
Various studies have proven that meditation is one of the best methods of relaxation and stress coping. When excessive tension is relieved, the body can spend its saved energy on self-healing.
Moreover, meditation has another unique quality – it releases not only physical reserves but also mental resources.
It happens thanks to the development of the ability to concentrate attention and free one’s mind from the abundance of unnecessary information noise.
Meditating regularly you can notice that you are better coping with stress and learning to control it.
And it’s not that difficult to meditate as it might seem. Deep breathing, quiet contemplation and concentration on positive factors like colors, phrases or sounds can be very helpful.
Among a variety of meditation types try to find the one that suits you best. Perhaps all you need is just to listen to soothing music during walking at a moderate pace. Just start trying and enjoy meditation!
Richard Johnson is a writer with a serious passion for health. He enjoys writing about wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health. Richard contributes to www.CardioGod.com – an informative website about cardiovascular health.