Transcendental Meditation may sound like a relic of the 1960s, but two promising new studies show how this relaxation technique could have some very real benefits for heart patients today.
Talk about feelin' groovy!
In fact, TM could lower the rate of heart attack, stroke and death by up to 50 percent while lowering blood pressure, anxiety, depression and anger.
That's quit a punch for a little quiet time... and shows that the science behind this technique has come a long way since the Beatles went to India.
In the first study, presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Heart Association, researchers followed African-American men and women for nine years. Some were given classes in Transcendental Meditation, while others attended classes in which traditional heart disease prevention techniques were discussed.
The TM group had a 50 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke and death during the study period. Researchers said the results were so stunning, it was as if the TM students were taking a powerful new drug.
In the second study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, 298 students at risk for hypertension were randomly assigned to a TM class or kept on a waiting list for the class. After three months, the students in the class had lowered their blood pressure – lowering their risk for future hypertension by 52 percent.
The researchers say the students also had reduced levels of anxiety, depression and anger.
The researchers were from American University in Washington, D.C., and Maharishi University – not exactly objective, since that Iowa school was founded by the same man who created TM, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. TM, as you can imagine, plays a major role in campus life there.
I'm always cautious around studies where there's a chance for some bias, and that's certainly possible in this case. However, the results are in line with the other new study on heart patients as well as previous research on meditation.
There's one catch here... TM courses start at $1500. That's not cheap (although it's still less than the cost of a year's supply of many meds).
But if you're not comfortable shelling out the big bucks for TM, try a basic meditation that you can learn for free – libraries are full of great books on different kinds of meditation, and some of them are easy enough to learn on your own.
You don't need to change your religion or beliefs to enjoy meditation – but if you want the benefits, you'll need to be consistent about it. TM practitioners devote 20 minutes twice a day to meditation, and that consistency undoubtedly helps produce those stellar results.
That kind of commitment may not be right for everyone – but if you have the time and you're curious, I'd encourage you to give it a shot and see if it helps you relax and bring those blood-pressure levels down.
Your friends might think it's "out there," but there's enough real science to back this up. And once you start getting some results, those friends of yours might even want to join you.
Far out, man!