Meditation is no longer just for the groovy folk. A just published study in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests the practice may bring cardiovascular and mental-health benefits. The research, conducted at American University in Washington, followed 298 students, half of whom practiced transcendental meditation for 20 minutes once or twice daily over three months and half of whom did not. Results were astounding.
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, compared with the control group—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 but no significant lowering of blood pressure. The results are particularly meaningful at a time when "improvement in mental health is of great concern as greater numbers of college students are being treated for anxiety and depression than ever before," says lead study author, Sanford Nidich, professor of physiology and health at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa.
Via US New and World Report