Transcendental meditation has swept the news this morning touting an ability to dramatically reduce heart disease and heart complications.
Transcendental meditation (TM) is rooted in Indian culture, founded in the 1950s. It found widespread acceptance in the 1960s and 1970s, and has since become less of a form of religion and more of a technique of relaxation and spirituality. A form of mantra meditation, TM technique is taught in seven steps and helps the individual calm the mind and body.
The study focused on teaching the TM technique as a stress-reduction approach to a group of 201 African American patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). According to the press release, African Americans have higher rates of CHD-related illness and death, and that psychosocial stress might be a contributing factor. The researchers theorized that the effects of a stress reduction intervention would help reduce CHD risk factors and perhaps prevent CHD-related morbidity and mortality.
Between 1998 and 2007, study participants either engaged in meditation techniques for 20 minutes twice per day, or spent the same amount of time practicing other heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors that they were taught in a cardiovascular health education program.
The results found that TM appears to reduce the risk of death, heart attack and stroke, while also lowering blood pressure and stress levels far better than the control group which practiced heart-healthy behavior.
Transcendental meditation did not, however, improve other “mitigating factors” of CHD such as depression, isolation and lack of social support.
It seems evident that meditative practices, such as TM, are not the cure-all for heart disease but may provide some added benefits to those suffering from it.