How meditation can promote a healthy heart?
Did you know that our thoughts and the way we process them affect the way our mind works? It also indirectly affects our body systems; even the heart! Meditation calms the mind, and naturally if the mind is calm and at peace, the heart will also benefit. The Journal of the American Heart Association published a scientific study that meditation practice can be very effective in reducing the risk of heart disease!
Do you think meditation should also be included as a practice for improving overall heart health? Well, let’s find out! Experts have reviewed so many studies over the last few decades and found that meditation does help to maintain good heart health! But how?
Let’s see what are the benefits of meditation:
- Meditation improves how your heart functions. If you practice mindfulness or meditation regularly, you feel positive and your entire outlook towards life changes or improves. You feel motivated to follow healthier patterns of living; like a good healthy diet, better sleep patterns, and also you feel motivated to do regular workouts.
- Meditation has your heart or you can put your heart in meditation. Most of the times meditation are done in a relaxed position, like sitting on the floor or chair in comfortable clothing, closing eyes and trying to focus on breathing. If eyes are open, trying to focus on a candlelight or any soothing image or even by chanting repeating a single word or phrase. The whole idea involves being in the moment and being away from stress and all distractions. Meditation decreases high blood pressure. Meditation leads to healthier arteries so there is increased blood to the heart. Studies have shown both systolic (the top number in a reading) and diastolic (the bottom number in a reading) can be reduced if the heart is supported by meditation.
- HRV can be raised. Meditation lowers stress levels and increases HRV (heart rate variability). What is HRV? Well HRV tells us how quickly our heart makes changes in the interval between each heartbeat. A high HRV indicates a healthy heart. If HRV is lower, there is more than 32 to 45% chance of heart attacks or strokes. With regular meditation practice, even if you meditate for 5 to 10 minutes a day, HRV will improve.
If you already have heart disease can meditation help or does it only help to prevent heart disease?? A case study showed that a group of patients with coronary heart disease who did transcendental meditation (this is a form of meditation when you sit comfortably with your eyes closed and silently repeat a mantra for 15 minutes a day ). 15 minutes of transcendental meditation decreased the risk of death, heart attack and stroke by a whopping 48 percent!
How to start a meditation practice?
- Start with baby steps— just five minutes a day then gradually increase the time up to twenty to thirty minutes a day.
- Sit in a quiet place and breathe slowly.
- Concentrate on your breath. Then concentrate on each body part, beginning from the toes to your feet, to your thighs and so on; relaxing each part by visualizing it relaxed.
- Concentrate on your inhalation and exhalation. When you exhale, you can say a word that you like, for example, peace or calm, etc.
- If you feel distracted, it’s perfectly all right. Start all over again. Keep doing this for 5 to 10 minutes. Yoga and Tai chi are also types of meditation but the moving type, as these activities involve mind-body associated movements. Even repeated forms of exercises like doing laps in a swimming pool, walking or riding a bike can be meditation. This is because you are focused completely on the activity involved.
Do’s and don’ts of meditation practice:
- Five minutes a day of meditation is better than nothing at all.
- Try to practice at the same time every day.
- If you skip a day or two, it’s perfectly fine. Start whenever you can again.
- Sometimes practicing with a partner or a group can make you do such practices regularly. So either take the support of a partner or enroll in a class. Your heart will thank you!
Do you practice meditation? If yes, how has it helped you? Please share your thoughts.
Geeta Hansaria is a homeopath with a passion for writing, especially food poems, binges on DIY kid crafts and cooks up yummy ‘thalis’ for her vast Instagram fan following.