Meditate to Lower Blood Pressure
By Paul Rothbart
High blood pressure is a common medical problem. There are of course, different levels of severity, but allowing blood pressure to remain elevated is potentially dangerous. When it gets too high, there is serious risk of stroke and heart attack. Diet and exercise are two keys to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. But, as it can be elevated by stress, meditation can also play a role in getting blood pressure down to a safe level. Here is some information about meditation.
Calming the Mind
The goal of meditation techniques is to relax the body and calm the mind, reaching a state called thoughtful awareness. The idea is to clear away any negative thoughts or worry, thus reducing anxiety and creating a sense of calm and well-being. During meditation, the individual becomes very aware of all parts of the body. Doing this once or twice a day can have a positive impact on blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, research has shown that regular meditation and relaxation techniques can modestly lower blood pressure.
The Relaxation Response
Dr. Herbert Benson of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine has developed a technique to invoke the body's relaxation response. This is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. It is a self-induced method of quieting the brain involving aspects of both transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation. Dr. Benson's research found that this technique can help high blood pressure and other disorders caused by high stress. Studies found that people who used the technique for eight weeks had higher levels of nitric oxide in their breath. The molecules of this compound help to relax and widen the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
How to Do It
Dr. Benson recommends using the technique for 10 to 20 minutes, twice a day. Find a quiet place where you can sit and relax. A comfy couch or easy chair works well. Close your eyes, shut out all sensory distractions. Breathe deeply and slowly, relaxing the muscles. Feel them slackening. Choose a word, sound, or short phrase that you find comforting and repeat it silently in your mind, over and over. Stray thoughts will almost certainly pop into your head. Let them come and then go away, all the while focusing on your phrase. It will get easier with practice.
High blood pressure is not a condition to be taken lightly. It can cause serious health problems. Taking steps to lower blood pressure and keep it at a safe level is essential to good overall health. Diet and exercise are absolutely necessary steps. Meditation may also be very helpful. Give Dr. Benson's technique a try. It may be very helpful in managing blood pressure and who couldn't use a little relaxation each day.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in St. George, Utah