We are aware that stress is one of the main causes of different illnesses, and we are also aware that practicing meditation can significantly reduce stress levels, and though we may not know how, due to the meditation many illnesses and medical problems can be treated, thus our overall health can be improved.
I have been practicing mindfulness meditation and Reiki for six years, and I have experienced an amazing changes in many aspects of my life. However, I believe that meditation practice needs more attention and popularization, thus, any new findings in different science fields can shed some light on the benefits of meditation that people should be aware of.
These are the latest interesting studies that showed how meditation helped reduce stress levels, and how certain illnesses and addictions saw significant improvement.
Transcendental Meditation May Reduce Risk of Death, Heart Attack and Stroke
Many researches and studies confirmed that transcendental meditation can offer benefits for treating cardiovascular diseases. A study conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee gathered randomly picked African Americans with heart disease to investigate the benefits of Transcendental Meditation stress-reducing program. One group practice meditation for about 20 minutes twice a day, and the other attended health education classes. During 5 years of follow up the group who meditated were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or to die. Moreover, the group who practiced meditation reported lower blood pressure and less stress and anger. The researchers indicated that by reducing stress and developing a better mind-body connection due to meditation, people can improve rates of the epidemic disease. According to the researchers, now physicians can safely prescribe this stress-reducing program.
Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Tobacco Craving for 60 Percent
The main enemy of self control is stress, anxiety, depression, anger and emotional pain. For many who have ever tried to reduce or quit smoking, stressful situation caused many problems and shook their determination. In an interesting study, which was published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists used specific training approach, that is, mindfulness meditation, on the areas of brain related to self control to see if smokers could reduce their tobacco use. Participants in the study were volunteers who only wanted to reduce daily stress to be able to perform better, however, they end up reducing smoking by 60 percent due to the stress reduction.
The training with mindfulness meditation, known as Integrative Body-Mind Relaxation, was designed to improve self-control pathway related to addiction. The participants who went through IBMT training experienced a significant decrease in craving for cigarettes, and some of them reported the improvement after attending the training. The researchers believe that meditation is able to help with coping the symptoms of addiction by reducing stress and enhancing self-control. Mindfulness meditation in general promotes personal control and self-awareness, and though more research needs to be done, scientists believe that this training could help with other addictions as well. The most interesting thing in this study is that mindfulness meditation helped those who had no intention to quit smoking.
Mindfulness Stress Reduction Practice Helps Lower Blood Pressure
In this new research, which was published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, 56 women and men with prehypertension (blood pressure higher than desirable, but not that high for drugs to be prescribed) participated in a study to determine the benefits of Mindfulness-based stress reduction for lowering blood pressure. The group who was assigned to mindfulness program, practiced three main types of mindfulness skills: sitting meditation, yoga exercises and body scan exercises. The other group received lifestyle advice and muscle-relaxation activity. Blood pressure measurements were compared, and the results showed that the group who practiced MBSR had significant reduction in clinic-based blood pressure measurements (systolic blood pressure decreased by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure saw a reduction of nearly 2 mm Hg). In the group who didn’t participate in MBSR, systolic blood pressure had a decrease of less that 1 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure an increase of 1 mm Hg.
According to the researchers, MBSR, when combined with lifestyle modification, can be an appropriate treatment for blood pressure in the prehypertensive range, and it can also prevent or delay the need for antihypertensive medications.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction has already shown great results in alleviating stress, treating depression and anxiety and in other health conditions. This study is the first to show the specific results of the impact of MBSD on blood pressure.
Robert H. Schneider, Clarence E. Grim, Maxwell V. Rainforth, Theodore Kotchen, Sanford I. Nidich, Carolyn Gaylord-King, John W. Salerno, Jane Morley Kotchen, and Charles N. Alexander. Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Randomized, Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Blacks. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes, November 13 2012 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.112.967406
Y.-Y. Tang, R. Tang, M. I. Posner. Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1311887110
J. W. Hughes, D. M. Fresco, R. Myerscough, M. H. M. van Dulmen, L. E. Carlson, R. Josephson. Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Prehypertension. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2013; 75 (8): 721 DOI: 10.1097/%u200BPSY.0b013e3182a3e4e5