Thursday, April 15, 2010
Meditation reduces your risk of hearth death.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has reached a first-ever finding: patients with coronary heart disease who practiced meditation had a nearly 50 percent lower rate of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to a matched group that didn't meditate. In addition to a dramatic reduction in the risk of death, heart attacks, and strokes in the TM group, the researchers found a clinically significant reduction in blood pressure. Mediation also reduced psychological stress in a subgroup of patients who were experiencing high levels of anxiety and other signs of stress.
Meditation can generally be divided into two categories: concentration methods, which emphasize focusing on your breathing or a specific object; and mindfulness meditation, which usually uses chants, focused breathing, or repetitive thoughts. The goal in either case is to allow thoughts, feelings, and emotions to appear moment by moment without placing any attention on them. Simply let the thoughts enter. Acknowledge them and let them go, allowing yourself to tap into your inner self.
In basic breathing exercises, all you need is a quiet place and a willingness to quiet the mind. Conscious breathing reduces stress and allows you to filter out the constant mind chatter. Quieting the mind offers the opportunity to get in touch with your inner self. A conscious breathing exercise can be done any time of day and as often as you wish. Use it as a powerful stress-busting tool when you are feeling overwhelmed:
Bring your attention to your breathing. Notice the flow of breath in and out of your lungs. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing the air to fill your lungs. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Observe the rhythm that naturally occurs. Acknowledge any distracting thoughts, and simply let them go when they appear. Return your attention to the rhythm of your breathing. Continue to take deep breaths in and out. When it feels natural, try allowing more time between each breath. Pause when appropriate, and feel the inner peace. Enjoy the freedom from mind chatter.
Meditation may be especially helpful for chronic pain. Other studies have shown the effectiveness of meditation for anxiety, substance abuse, skin ailments, and depression.
Posted by Brad Levine, D.C.