In the weeks after a heart attack, you’re weak, exhausted and scared you’ll never be your old, strong self again.
But eventually, you start feeling better, and you get back into your normal routine. Unfortunately, things can’t go completely back to normal…
Even though you start to feel like your old self again, you can’t fall into old habits. You need to do things differently this time around, so you don’t have another heart attack.
What should you do to turn your heart health around?
Healthy eating and exercise are great starting points. But there’s another component to restoring heart health that people often forget about — stress relief.
Stress causes your heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. Stress also inspires you to do less-than-healthy things like eat an entire bag of salt and vinegar potato chips or sneak a cigarette on the back porch even though you “quit.” In other words? Stress — especially if it’s chronic can take a toll on your heart.
But how exactly do you develop a new relationship with stress after a heart attack?
Well, meditation is my favorite way to master the stress demon. And a new study shows one type of meditation can provide the stress relief you need to keep your heart healthy…
Transcendental Meditation reverses this sign of heart disease
Researchers from Columbia University just uncovered some impressive heart benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM)…
The study included 56 people with coronary heart disease (CHD). Some of these people participated in a cardiac rehabilitation program, which included diet changes and exercise. Others participated in the same cardiac rehabilitation program but added TM to the mix. And some just practiced TM without the cardiac rehabilitation program.
After 12 weeks, researchers tested blood flow to the heart using a PET scan. And guess what?
People practicing TM (with or without the cardiac rehabilitation program) had more blood flowing to their hearts. People practicing TM along with cardiac rehabilitation saw a 20.7 percent increase in blood flow to the heart. And those practicing TM alone saw a 12.8 percent increase.
As you probably know, decreased blood flow to the heart is a sign of heart disease. So, increased blood flow to the heart is a sign that heart disease is improving.
How does meditation make more blood flow to the heart?
Researchers believe it lowers levels of stress hormones and inflammation, which improves cell function in the arteries.
What is Transcendental Meditation, exactly?
If you lived through the 60s and 70s, you probably remember Transcendental Meditation. It’s what The Beatles (and lots of other celebrities) practiced. The Beatles even traveled to India to study under the founder of the TM movement, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Transcendental Meditation still has a large following all these years later. In fact, it’s one of the most popular meditation techniques worldwide. What is it exactly?
It’s a silent mantra meditation you practice twice a day for 20 minutes. You sit comfortably, close your eyes and repeat a phrase or word in your mind over and over again for 20 minutes.
Unlike other forms of meditation, you don’t have to clear your mind of thoughts. You just have to repeat your mantra. If your mind strays away from the mantra, just go back to it and continue. You can practice TM no matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs. It’s not a belief system. Just a form of meditation.
The only downside?
To officially learn TM, you have to participate in a TM course. In the course, you’ll receive your own unique mantra and get one-on-one instruction from a TM teacher. But the course is a bit steep compared to other forms of meditation. The cost runs on a sliding scale based on income. But just to give you a point of reference, people who make less than $50,000 per year pay $500 total (broken up into four monthly payments).
If paying that much to learn meditation doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other types of meditation you can learn for free by renting a book, DVD or CD from your local library. There are also lots of free meditation videos on YouTube. Even though these meditation styles are different than TM, they offer one of the same benefits — stress relief. So, choose a meditation style that works for you… and stick with it! You’ll be happy you did years from now when your heart health is heading in the right direction.
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- PET scans show Transcendental Meditation with cardiac rehabilitation increases blood flow to the heart — EurekAlert!
- Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography: A pilot study — Journal of Nuclear Cardiology
- What to Do After Surviving a Heart Attack — Healthline
- What is Cardiac Rehabilitation? — American Heart Association
- Reducing Stress — American Heart Association
- What Is a PET Scan? — Healthline