To begin, make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Let the weight of your body settle toward the Earth. Take a few deep breaths, letting out a little more with each exhale. Notice how the body relaxes in response.
That basic meditation exercise — and others like it — can cleanse the mind and relax the body. But it could also have another benefit: Recent findings show meditation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular troubles.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Baylor University College of Medicine studied data from more than 61,000 people who participated in the annual National Health Interview Survey. Among that group, about 10% of people reported doing some form of meditation. Those who did had lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as fewer instances of strokes, diabetes and coronary artery disease compared with those who didn’t meditate.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Those who meditated were about half as likely to have coronary artery disease as those who did not meditate. Meditation also reduced the incidence of high blood pressure stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol in amounts ranging from 14% to 35%.
Even after adjusting for other risk factors such as smoking, body mass, age and gender, the effect of meditation was still significant.
While the researchers aren’t ready to declare a direct, conclusive link between meditation and cardiovascular health, they said the findings suggest that it can provide improvement.
That quiet time of mindfulness and introspection might just help you live longer to enjoy many more moments of peace and serenity.