Psychological distress that leads to high blood pressure, was lowered through Transcendental Meditation in a study of college students. Students at risk for physical and mental health problems in college were found to benefit from Transcendental Meditation, evidenced by lower blood pressure and improved psychological distress and coping. Background information for the study, that included 298 students at American University, points to a fifty percent increase in depression among college students. Compared to ten years ago, antidepressant use has doubled. Transcendental Meditation is a timely intervention for college students to improve mental and physical health given the increase of distress noted on college campuses. Practicing meditation was found to lower blood pressure that can prevent long-term health problems. Sanford Nidich, EdD, lead author and senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management explains, “Previous research has shown that psychological distress such as anxiety, depression, and anger contribute to the development of hypertension in young adults. The study is the first to show that controlling stress among college students also leads to improvements in blood pressure. Students were split into two groups. One group practiced meditation, and the other was put on a wait list. Students at risk for hypertension who involved themselves with Transcendental Meditation for three months experienced a drop of 6.3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 4.0 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure – the changes in turn reduce risk of future blood pressure elevations by fifty two percent. The lower blood pressure readings were associated with lower stress levels. Blood pressure, coping ability and psychological distress were measured in the student groups at baseline, and after the three month period.
The Transcendental Meditation group was compared to the control group of college students. Transcendental Meditation successfully lowered blood pressure and improved mental health among college students who practiced the meditation technique and who are faced with uncertain futures, financial strains, and the need for academic achievement. Another recent study revealed that meditation can also reduce the risk of death and cardiovascular events in patients with heart disease by forty seven percent. news from emaxhealth.com – The Transcendental Meditation technique, or TM technique is a form of mantra meditation introduced in India in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1917-2008). It is reported to be the most widely researched and one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques in the world today. Taught in a standardized seven-step course by certified teachers, the technique involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day, while sitting comfortably with closed eyes. In 1957, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began a series of world tours during which he introduced and taught his meditation technique.In 1959, he founded the International Meditation Society and, in 1961, he began to train teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique. From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, both the Maharishi and the TM technique received significant public attention in the USA, especially among the student population.During this period, a million people learned the technique, including well-known public figures.Transcendental Meditation is at the core of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes the Transcendental Meditation technique as one which requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone. The technique is described as being effortless and natural, and involving neither contemplation nor concentration. It relies only on the natural tendency of the mind to move in the direction of greater satisfaction. In his book The T.M. Technique, Peter Russell says the Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind to become still without effort, in contrast to meditation practices that attempt to control the mind by holding it on a single thought or by keeping it empty of all thoughts.He says trying to control the mind is like trying to go to sleep at night — if a person makes an effort to fall asleep, his or her mind remains active and restless.
This is why, he says, the Transcendental Meditation technique avoids concentration and effort. According to Wayne Teasdale’s book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, the Transcendental Meditation technique is what is called an open or receptive method that can be described as giving up control and remaining open in an inner sense. Use of a mantra. During the initial personal instruction session, the student is given a specific sound or mantra. The sound is utilized as a thought in the meditation process, allowing the individual’s attention to be directed naturally from an active style of functioning to a less active or quieter style of mental activity. An important distinction between the Transcendental Meditation technique and other practices that involve mantras is in the way the mantra, or sound, is used. In Transcendental Meditation the mantra is not chanted—either verbally or mentally, but is instead a vehicle on which the attention rests. Medical research; In a 1975 study published in the journal Respiration, twenty one patients with bronchial asthma (who were excluded for significant emphysema by single breath diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide) were studied in a six month RCT designed study, (with the researchers but not the patients blind to the treatment modality) using the Transcendental Meditation technique and employing a crossover trial format using reading as a crossover control. The researchers concluded that based on the marked reduction in asthma symptom-severity duration, a statistically significant improvement of pulmonary function test abnormalities (in raw measured values of cm/H2O/liter/sec determined using spirometry and body plethysmography), and from subject and physician evaluations, that the practice of the TM is a useful adjunct in the treatment of asthma. The American Heart Association has published two studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique. In 1995, the association’s journal Hypertension published the results of a randomized, controlled trial in which a group of older African-Americans practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique demonstrated a significant reduction in blood pressure.
In 2000, the association’s journal, Stroke, published a study involving 127 subjects that found that, on average, the hypertensive, adult subjects who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique daily experienced reduced thickening of coronary arteries, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. After six to nine months, carotid intima-media thickness decreased in the group that was practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique as compared with matched control subjects. In 2004, systematic review of five randomized clinical trials examining the effects of TM on blood pressure concluded that there was “insufficient good-quality evidence to conclude whether or not TM has a cumulative positive effect on blood pressure.” The review said that the RCTs published through May 2004 had important methodological weaknesses and were potentially biased by the affiliation of authors to the TM organization.A reply subsequently published in the same journal explained the methodological choices that the researchers made and why they were preferred. It noted that the collaborators on the studies included coauthors from Harvard University, the University of Maryland, the West Oakland Health Center, the University of Arkansas, the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the Georgia Institute for Prevention of Human Disease, and the Medical College of Georgia. The critique response also noted that blood pressure data were collected blind by independent research institutions and suggested that the authors of the critical review themselves may have been biased in their critique by their affiliation with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and in being on the editorial board of a journal that is published by Pharmaceutical Press.In 2005, the American Journal of Cardiology published a review of two studies that looked at stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation technique and mortality among patients receiving treatment for high blood pressure. This study was a long-term, randomized trial. It evaluated the death rates of 202 men and women, average age 71, who had mildly elevated blood pressure.
The study tracked subjects for up to 18 years and found that the group practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique had death rates that were reduced by 23%. Also in 2005, the American Journal of Hypertension published the results of a study that found the Transcendental Meditation technique may be useful as an adjunct in the long-term treatment of hypertension among African-Americans. In 2006, a study involving 103 subjects published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine found that coronary heart disease patients who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for 16 weeks showed improvements in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and autonomic nervous system tone, compared with a control group of patients who received health education. Also in 2006, a functional MRI study of 24 patients conducted at the University of California at Irvine, and published in the journal NeuroReport, found that the long-term practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique may reduce the affective/motivational dimension of the brain’s response to pain. In 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine released online an independent review of the state of meditation research conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report used the Jadad scale to evaluate 813 studies, of which 230 were studies of the TM or TM-Sidhi programs. The report concluded that “the therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature,” and “firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence” . The report said that “meta-analysis based on low quality studies and small numbers of hypertensive participants showed that TM, Qi Gong and Zen Bhuddist meditation significantly reduced blood pressure” and that “choosing to practice a particular meditation technique continues to rely solely on individual experiences and personal preferences, until more conclusive scientific evidence is produced”. A revised version of the review published in 2008 acknowledged that the Jadad scale may not be suitable for evaluating research on meditation and that the usual approach to double blinding, which the Jadad scale requires, may not be possible. The researchers revised the Jadad scores of the studies and concluded that while most of the studies were weak methodologically, 10% of the 400 clinical studies did score good or better on the Jadad scale and that there was a statistically significant improvement in quality over time.
In 2008, researchers at the University of Kentucky conducted a meta-analysis of nine qualifying RCT published studies which used Transcendental Meditation to address patients with hypertension, and found that on average across all nine studies the practice of TM was associated with approximate reductions of 4.7 mm (0 in) Hg systolic blood pressure and 3.2 mm (0 in) Hg diastolic blood pressure. The researchers concluded that “…Sustained blood pressure reductions of this magnitude are likely to significantly reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.” The study was published in the March 2008 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension. Using the Jadad scale, the researchers found that of the nine studies evaluated, three were of high quality with a score of 75% or greater, three were of acceptable quality, and three were of suboptimal quality.A 2009 study titled “A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Transcendental Meditation on Quality of Life in Older Breast Cancer Patients”, a collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging at Saint Joseph Hospital; the Institute for Health Services, Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University; the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University; and the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management, was published in Integrative Cancer Therapies. The study concluded that women with breast cancer reduced their stress levels and improved their mental health and emotional well being through the use of the Transcendental Meditation technique. In 2009, at a conference of the American Heart Association, researchers at the Medical College in Wisconsin with the Maharishi University in Iowa, found that heart disease patients who practice Transcendental Meditation have nearly 50% lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death. Researchers randomly assigned 201 African Americans to meditate or to make lifestyle changes. After nine years, the meditation group had a 47% reduction in deaths, heart attacks and strokes. The African American men and women were 59 years old, on average, and had narrowing of the arteries in their hearts. The meditation group practiced for 20 minutes twice a day. The other group, the lifestyle change group, received education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise. In the meditating group, in addition to the reductions in death, heart attacks and strokes, there was a clinically significant drop (5mm Hg) in blood pressure as well as a significant reduction in psychological stress in some participants. Researchers likened the effect of Transcendental Meditation to finding a new drug for preventing heart disease. The study was funded by a £2.3m grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
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