Meditation is among the most popular self-improvement techniques that drag along really huge benefits.
Being able to not only help with our mental health but also our physical health including heart health is something that makes it worth practicing in the long term and making it a lifestyle.
Here, we will be looking at how meditation is linked to improving heart health, especially with blood pressure, its positive impacts, and what research has found about its abilities in the area.
Understanding Blood Pressure Better
Blood pressure, especially, high blood pressure (hypertension), is among the leading causes of death across the world.
It is harmful by itself and it also gives way for other deadly health conditions such as stroke and heart diseases that increase mortality rate.
In 2018 alone, almost 500,000 people in the United States died with their causes of death being linked to high blood pressure (1).
Millions of people who might be suffering from high blood pressure don’t know they have it. They actually get to realize they have the condition once symptoms start manifesting themselves in their bodies.
That is why it is recommended to have yourself frequently checked as you monitor your heart health so that in case your blood pressure rises or falls in a huge way, the necessary measures can be taken early so that it doesn’t get to dangerous levels.
Low blood pressure, which is also known as hypotension, is a problem that many people also struggle with.
And while blood pressure in our bodies keeps rising and falling every so often, if it remains high or low for a long time it may lead to serious health problems.
Some of the symptoms of high blood pressure include nose bleeding, chest pains, shortness of breath, changes in vision, flushing, and even blood in urine.
And some of the symptoms of low blood pressure can be as mild as losing concentration, fainting, nausea, and dizziness, while the extreme ones can include shallow breathing, having a rapid pulse that’s weak, confusion in older adults, and having a pale skin that is sweaty and cold.
Some of the ways that are known to help with controlling blood pressure include reducing salt intake, exercising, cutting on caffeine intake, eating dark chocolate, losing weight, eating berries, pharmacotherapy, cutting on the consumption of carbs, and reducing alcohol intake, among others.
Meditation might also be another intervention that has been found to have a positive impact on blood pressure when practiced frequently.
A Brief Look Into Meditation and How it Helps With Blood Pressure
Meditation is an old age practice that, over the years, has proven really useful in maintaining optimal health.
It involves training the mind in focus and relaxation so that it becomes much calmer and aware by silencing the thought process.
When you meditate, you aim to get into a meditative state, which is more of relaxed wakefulness, and remain in that state for a long period of time.
Now there are many forms of meditation that are aimed at different health benefits and the most common ones include mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, loving-kindness meditation, Buddhist meditation, vipassana meditation, Biblical or Christian meditation, and Dzogchen meditation, and many others.
Although it has not been fully established, it is strongly suggested that meditation and various meditation-based exercises can help control blood pressure and maintain it at optimal levels.
Research Studies on Meditation and Blood Pressure
There have been a number of studies on the effect of meditation on blood pressure and most of them have shown very promising results as far as using the practice to regulate this aspect of the body is concerned.
One study showed that deep breathing helped with vagal regulation of the heart that had a positive effect on the participants with high blood pressure (2)
Deep breathing is a technique that is employed in most meditation practices and it is great to work with because it doesn’t require much effort to do, not to mention it’s relaxing both mentally and physically.
Getting started with it for a few minutes per day can go a long way in your life.
Another study showed that transcendental meditation and the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program were both effective in bringing about huge reductions in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure (3).
The study also showed that the techniques might reduce the risk of developing hypertension in young adults.
Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure that is linked to when the muscles of the heart relax to allow in blood and systolic blood pressure is related to when the muscles of the heart contract to allow blood to be pumped to the arteries.
Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that is only taught by qualified, licensed, and certified meditation teachers unlike most of the other types that you can learn online without a teacher.
The practice is based on helping the practitioner transcend into the deepest level of awareness in a natural and effortless way.
Our complete transcendental meditation guide offers you all the information you need to know about it.
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program is an 8 weeks program created by a well-known mental health expert called Jon Kabat-Zinn that uses mindfulness to help with managing stress.
Yet another study that used meditation and yoga found that the two practices also help with regulating blood pressure can be used as safe alternatives to pharmacotherapy (4).
Yoga’s history dates way back and it’s a rewarding mind and body practice.
There are many different types of yoga such as restorative yoga (which mostly involves deep relaxation), power yoga (which is quite active and athletic), prenatal yoga for people who are pregnant, Kripalu yoga, Kundalini yoga, among many others which have been found to have immense benefits.
There are many yoga centers that have been established for people who want to learn and master the practice in their lives and you can find many of them in your locality.
Nonetheless, a key element to remember is to consult with your doctor about engaging in the practice if you have high blood pressure because then they can guide you on the best way to approach it for maximum benefits and minimum risks.
Another 2018 study looking at the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension found out that within a period of 8 weeks of administering mindfulness training to the participants, the blood pressure values being tracked greatly reduced (5).
We encourage you to read our mindfulness meditation guide for beginners to know all you need about it.
In another study involving 52 untreated subjects with hypertension, administered with contemplative meditation coupled up with breathing techniques, the results showed there was a decrease in heart rate as well systolic and diastolic blood pressure (6).
Contemplative meditation involves spiritually-centered observation or consideration of a specific notion, problem, or circumstance with the goal of getting deep insight from the still small voice that is within us that we rarely pay attention to and is often from a higher power.
The practice can therefore be useful when making decisions because you seek answers to a specific subject.
This type of meditation can be practiced by an individual by themselves but help from a qualified and experienced facilitator can also be great hence a matter of preference.
In essence, meditation and how it affects blood pressure is a growing area of study that is quite promising, and future studies will help us understand which meditation styles are more effective in regulating blood pressure than the others, and which specific approach is able to bring the best results.
In the meantime, meditation can be used alongside other methods of blood pressure regulation such as pharmacotherapy and creating healthy habits, among others.
Also, consulting with your doctor so that you know which personal plan to work with while using meditation, based on your health status and other factors, will ensure you are going in the right direction so that you are able to get your heart health back to optimal levels.