Scientific studies have revealed the benefits of slowing down, taking a time out and sitting still. But to reap the rewards, one must engage in a specific type of practice.
Published in The American Journal of Cardiology, researchers examined there long-term effects of stress reduction in life expectancy.
They reviewed data from two randomised controlled trials that compared transcendental meditation, behavioural therapies and usual therapy for high blood pressure sufferers.
Overall they looked at 202 men and women whose average baseline blood pressure reading was high enough to be classified as stage 1 hypertension.
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This, according to NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) ranges from 140/90mmHg to 159/99mmHg.
The participants had an average age between 67 and 81 when the experiment began.
After three months the meditation group reported significantly lower blood pressure than the other control groups.
However, it’s the long-term data that is truly fascinating.
The 20-year study found that those who participated in transcendental meditation showed a 23 percent decrease in the primary outcome of all-cause mortality (death).
Specifically, the group who practised transcendental meditation had a 30 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular mortality.
And the same group had a 49 percent decrease in the rate of cancer mortality.
The researchers concluded that the benefits of meditation are almost as god as those resulting from medication for hypertension – without the side effects.
What is transcendental meditation?
Founded by Mahesh Yogi, transcendental meditation is described to be “the most natural and effortless technique of meditation”.
Using a mantra or sound to gently rest our attention, the mind will learn to quieten.
The practice promotes a state of relaxed awareness while dissipating distracting thoughts.
It’s best to practise for 20 minutes, twice a day, everyday – with routine being key.
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How to do transcendental meditation?
Sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes and silently – in your head – repeat a mantra or sound, such as “om”.
The mantra or sound is used to focus your attention. And this is to be repeated for up to 20 minutes.
This safe practice has been shown to reduce chronic pain, reduce anxiety, high blood pressure and cholesterol in various studies.
There are different types of meditations to choose from, and there’s apps available to help guide you.
For instance, Headspace is a popular meditation app that focuses on mindfulness.
Headspace explained: “Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment.
“It can have numerous benefits, everything from decreased stress and sadness to increased levels focus and happiness.”
So, sit back, relax and take a deep breath – start your meditation session today.
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