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Meditation good for the heart, study finds
by Amy Norton
MSNBC.com Translate This Article
23 May 2005
On 23 May 2005 MSNBC.com reported:
When Nick Fitts, a 17-year old student, was found to have elevated blood pressure, he was invited to learn the Transcendental Meditation Programme (TM) as part of a Medical College of Georgia study. Not only did Fitts find, four months later, that his blood pressure had indeed decreased, the study concluded that overall, the group that learned TM saw an average drop in blood pressure of three or four points while the non-TM group remained the same.
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MSNBC reporter Amy Norton said that today, five years later, Fitts says that he still practises TM. He told her that it was a 'rejuvenation' that provided more focus for studying and added, 'My blood pressure's not a problem anymore.'
After giving a more detailed description of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the article cited a second study, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, showing that the Transcendental Meditation Programme may extend lifespan. This later research followed the death statistics of seniors with high blood pressure who had participated in two earlier studies. Some of the seniors had learned TM as a means of lowering their blood pressure, while others had taken health education classes or learned other methods of relaxation.
The men and women who practised TM were 30 per cent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease over the next eighteen years compared to their peers. Their risk of dying from any cause was 23 per cent lower.
Dr Vernon Barnes, lead author on the Medical College of Georgia study, explained to Norton that over 600 research studies have been published over the past three decades showing a wide range of health benefits from the practice of TM, which Norton called 'the most studied form of meditation'.
Dr Robert H. Schneider, who directs the Maharishi University of Management's Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, was lead researcher on the study on extended lifespan. He believes that the findings, coupled with previous studies, 'give strong evidence' that meditation is a heart-healthy habit.
Schneider was asked how the Transcendental Meditation Technique creates so many positive health benefits. He said that while there was a general agreement that the mental technique can reduce psychological stress, 'there is also something deeper going on'.
Norton wrote that the Transcendental Meditation Programme 'works better than other practices like muscle relaxation, 'because it may awaken the body's innate ability to ''self-repair''. Meditation, both Schneider and Barnes say, is physiologically different from resting or sleeping because practitioners become still mentally and physically, but remain awake and aware.'
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