The research, followed close to 300 students, half of whom practiced transcendental meditation for 20 minutes once or twice daily over three months. A subgroup of subjects in the meditation group who were at increased risk for hypertension significantly lowered their blood pressure and psychological distress, and also bolstered their coping ability.
The average reduction in blood pressure in this group -- a 6.3-mm Hg decrease in the top (systolic) number of a blood pressure reading and a 4-mm Hg decrease in the lower (diastolic) number -- was associated with a 52 percent reduction in the risk of developing hypertension in the future.
Meditators who were not at increased risk for hypertension saw a reduction in psychological distress, depression, and anxiety as well as increased coping ability.
As the new year begins and you resolve to make healthier lifestyle choices, I strongly encourage you to add a few minutes of meditation to your daily routine.
Just 20 minutes a day can begin to make a big difference in how you feel mentally, physically and emotionally.
When your mind is calm and your emotions are within your control, you’re in a much better position to tackle all your normal responsibilities plus the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Feelings of stress and overwhelm that keep you stuck in unhealthy behaviors can be greatly relieved by a regular practice of meditation. As the clouds in your head clear and your anxiety is minimized, you’ll be amazed at how energized and capable you feel.
Set the Stage for a New Beginning
All the changes you make in your life begin in your head.
Meditation has the power to actually alter the way your mind works by strengthening the areas of your brain that regulate attention and memory.
When you’re better able to focus and concentrate, you can perform routine tasks quickly and efficiently, leaving yourself with the time and energy you need to take on new goals and challenges.
Rather than doing the same things the same way, with the same mindset and the same disappointing results, meditation allows you to set the stage for the changes you want to make in your life.
Managing Your Stress = Managing Your Life
Every human illness is stress-related on some level.
Since meditation works so well to relieve stress, it can also prevent and help heal illness. Not only can meditation reduce blood pressure and hypertension risks, it has also been shown to help relieve:
- Chronic pain, including headaches
- Respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma
- Sleep disturbances and fatigue
- Gastrointestinal distress and irritable bowel syndrome
- Skin disorders
- Mild depression and premenstrual syndrome
- RA (rheumatoid arthritis) symptoms
Conditions like these can rob you of your ability to live a full, satisfying life. When you’re weighed down with stress and the physical complaints that go with it, just getting through each day becomes a chore. Your stress is in control – you aren’t.
What could be better than a cure for feelings of stress and stress-related illness that is all natural and free except for a small investment of your time?
That’s what meditation offers you. It’s a foundation upon which to build. That’s why I recommend it as a place to start before you attempt to make other positive changes in your life.
Imagine meditation and other stress management tools as the third leg of a three-legged stool of good health.
Without all three legs, the stool can’t stand up. That’s how important meditation can be to your overall health. Your ability to handle life’s stressors is just as important for your survival as the food you eat and the condition of your body.
To test your meditation wings, give this a try. Sit quietly, perhaps put on some soothing music, and close your eyes.
Breathe rhythmically and focus -- on your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle, a mantra or even just being in the moment. If you find that your mind starts to wander, direct it back to your focus point and continue from there.
Ideally, set aside 15-20 minutes a day to practice meditation. You can also try it in shorter segments, but ultimately try to work your way up to 20 minutes.
I’m also a major fan of brainwave entrainment technology. We offer the Insight CD System here on our site. The Insight CD is set up so you can do a 20-minute quick session or longer 40- or 60-minute sessions.
By listening to the CD you can literally train your brain to function at a high level of synchronization, opening up the way for a flood of positive effects. When the left and right sides of your brain begin to work in concert with each other, electrical activity and energy patterns become more widespread throughout the brain instead of remaining confined to certain areas.
Research has indicated this type of "whole brain synchronization" is present at times of intense creativity, clarity and inspiration.
Whether you use the Insight audio CD or meditate on your own in a quiet, undisturbed place, make sure you make the practice a priority of your daily life. It's a simple step that can have a lasting and profound influence on your physical health and mental well-being.