Everyone knows that meditation reduces stress, calms the body, and relaxes the mind. Numerous studies have corroborated this finding. But how does this overall relaxation translate into key physiological markers, such as blood pressure?
In a pioneering study published in the British medical journal Lancet (Patel, 1973), 20 hypertension patients were taught yoga, breath meditation, muscle relaxation, and meditation concentration. At the end of 12 months their systolic blood pressure had fallen from 159.1 to 138.7 — an average of over 20 points! In another study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (Stone and DeLeo, 1976), 14 subjects with moderate hypertension were taught a Buddhist meditation that involved counting their breaths for set periods each day for six months. At the end of this time, their systolic blood pressure had dropped an average of 15 points.
These and similar studies show that regular meditation can be an effective adjunct (or even alternative) to blood pressure medications for people with moderate hypertension — without the risky side effects!
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