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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meditation helps heart patients

African Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with African Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years, according to new , says a new study from the U.S.'s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute..
Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
"We hypothesized that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease," said Robert Schneider, M.D., lead researcher and director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa. "It appears that Transcendental Meditation is a technique that turns on the body's own pharmacy — to repair and maintain itself." 
TM uses a mantra to focus attention; in mindfulness meditation, an object such as the breath is used.

Researchers tracked 200 people for more than five years and found that meditation lowers blood pressure and improves anger control. The study asked participants to sit quietly with eyes closed for 20 minutes twice daily, but most did so only once a day - and results were still impressive. "Stress on the brain hurts the heart because stress hormones like cortisol damage arterial walls," says lead author Dr. Robert Schneider.
Schneider, who is also dean of Maharishi College of Perfect Health in Fairfield, Iowa, says that the research "on Transcendental Meditation and cardiovascular disease is established well enough that physicians may safely and routinely prescribe stress reduction for their patients with this easy to implement, standardized and practical program."
(Note that the Mararishi College of Perfect Health is part of the mandala of programs that spring from the Marharisi Mahesh Yogi, who popularized TM in the west.)