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Does Daily Meditation Improve Heart Health?

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Heart Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

Can an act as simple as engaging in transcendental meditation, or TM, improve your heart health and help prevent premature death due to heart-related factors? This is the question that researchers at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management sought to answer in a nine year study.

Led by Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, researchers followed a group of 201 African-Americans. Participants included both men and women, with an average age of 59. All participants were considered at high risk for heart disease having received a previous heart related diagnosis, including narrowing of the arteries. In addition to medications for their condition, half of the participants were provided traditional health education regarding heart disease prevention. Education included factors such as lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. The remaining participants received tuition for TM training and were encouraged to practice TM on a daily basis.

At the end of the study, researchers found that participants who practiced TM for as little as 20 minutes a day cut their risk of heart attack, stroke, and death by almost 50 percent. Participants who practiced TM on a daily basis without skipping any TM sessions enjoyed the greatest benefit with a 66 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack, death, or stroke. Researchers also reported an improvement in blood pressure levels in participants practicing TM. In addition, the majority of participants practicing TM - 64 percent - reported an improvement in stress levels.

According to the Maharishi Foundation, transcendental meditation, commonly referred to as TM, is thousands of years old. With roots based in India, TM is part of the Verdic “tradition of enlightenment” that enables the practitioner to reach a state of “pure consciousness” or “inner wakefulness.” TM practitioners believe that TM has numerous health benefits such as improving brain function, increasing intelligence, enhancing creativity, dilating blood vessels, reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and enhancing creativity. Estimates are that more than five million people practice TM. The effectiveness of TM has been heavily researched. The Maharishi Foundation reported that TM has been the subject of more than 600 studies.

Researchers in this study believe that practicing TM helped participants to reduce and manage unhealthy stress levels, which in turn improved their health, blood pressure, and prevented premature death from heart attack or stroke. In this study, the daily practice of TM was found to be as effective as traditional medicine, giving physicians an additional tool in the form of an “internal pharmacy” in treating heart disease.

Medical College of Wisconsin (2009, November 17). Transcendental Meditation helped heart disease patients’ lower cardiac disease risks by 50 percent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 3, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/11/091116163204.htm

Meditation ‘good for heart health,’ Nursing in Practice, 28 Jun 2011, http://www.nursinginpractice.com/article/26060/Meditation_%27good_for_heart_health%27

What is transcendental meditation?, The Transcendental Meditation Program, 2010 Maharishi Foundation, http://www.tm.org/

Reviewed July 5, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Great post. Your content really relates to the content I focus on as well. Although I focus more on zen and finding zen and happiness in your life. I hope you find the time to checkout my website as well.

August 25, 2011 - 6:38pm
Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anon... You said my "key" word..... "happiness!" My mantra is "live long- live well - live happy. the most important thing is to live."

August 30, 2011 - 7:45pm

Thank you both for sharing your experiences with I think it's tremendously helpful when people know that others use this and that it really works in the real world.

In my own family, my daughter uses meditation during labor. She is able to put herself in such a deep meditative state that she takes no drugs or medication and we have to "wake" her up to push! I've told her she needs to teach others what she does. She just had her third child last week and it was another pain-free, drug-free birth - all thanks to her meditation!

July 13, 2011 - 9:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

TM has been a hugely helpful tool in my life. As a result of my nearly 9 year practice I am easily enjoying better health, well being, creativity and mental focus. Practicing TM has easily changed my life :) - these studies just support what I all ready know.

July 11, 2011 - 7:30am
EmpowHER Guest

TM helped my mom's blood pressure. She meditates while she's waiting to see the doc and her reading is always low. :-)

July 5, 2011 - 9:03am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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