Meditation to Relieve Stress

"The original source of all tension is becoming. One is always trying to be something; no one is at ease with himself as he is. The being is not accepted, the being is denied, and something else is taken as an ideal to become. So the basic tension is always between that which you are and that which you long to become" - Osho

Numerous studies have shown that doing meditation to relieve stress produces remarkable results.

Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan identified 19 research studies that show meditation lowers blood pressure in people who have 'normal' to 'moderate' hypertension and can reduce systolic (peak) readings by as much as 25mmHg or approximately 20%.

Researchers from Maharishi University of Management and American University studied 298 students from American University and other schools in the Washington, D.C., area.

The researchers randomly assigned students to a Transcendental Meditation group or a control (wait-list) group. They also created a high-risk subgroup, based on blood pressure readings, family history, and weight.

The TM group received a seven-step course in TM techniques, with invitations to attend refresher meetings, and kept track of how often they practiced TM.

At the beginning of the study and after 3 months, researchers tested all participants for blood pressure and psychological measures.

Blood pressure decreased in the TM group and increased in the control group, but the differences were not significant overall.

However, compared with controls, the TM group had significant improvement in total psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, and coping ability.

Changes in psychological distress and coping paralleled changes in blood pressure.

How does meditation reduce blood pressure and provide stress relief?

Meditation engenders physiological changes in the body.

Breathing slows naturally and so does the heart beat. Blood pressure along with the metabolic rate decreases. Muscular tension reduces significantly.

In short, meditation relaxes us.

Please bear in mind that these physiological changes do not arise merely by resting.

In a state of ordinary physical rest, when no effort is made to manage the mental focus, we do not see a lowered rate of metabolism, a decrease in the use of oxygen, or a significant decrease in the heart rate, as we see in meditation, by several (as many as 15) beats per minute.

For people doing meditation, there is also a reduction in the blood lactate concentration of about four times as much as people who are simply resting.

Blood lactate levels are directly related to tension and high blood pressure.

Repeated research shows that these beneficial effects can't be replicated by just sitting down and day-dreaming. Only when both mind and body are simultaneously engaged in experiencing stillness and awareness do these changes manifest.

Here is more proof on how doing meditation to relieve stress can help us dramatically:

  • Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Volume 9, 1989

Eighty percent of hypertensive patients have lowered blood pressure and decreased medications – 16% are able to discontinue all of their medications.

These results lasted at least three years.

  • International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Bormann JE, Carrico AW, 2009

Repeating a mantram (also known as a mantra - the practice of silently focusing on a spiritual word or phrase frequently throughout the day) helps HIV-positive individuals develop coping skills and reduce anger.

If you are new to meditation, a great place to start is one of these mindfulness or breathing meditations.

You can also choose from the various meditation types or techniques to work toward gaining total freedom from stress and anxiety.

What kind of meditation you finally pick doesn't matter. What really matters is that you do it on a regular basis.

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