In our busy day-to-day life, it may be hard to stay on top of things, which can result in anxiety and stress. Meditation can be one of the best ways to feel calm and relaxed in such situations.
A host of earlier studies have shown the impact of meditation on health: how it can improve your attention span in old age, reduce stress levels, and even lower risk of depression. And the best part: meditation doesn’t require you to believe in a particular philosophy, instead it’s all about the experience.
Now, a new study also suggests that meditation can ease anxiety and improve your cardiovascular health. The study was done by Michigan Technological University with 14 participants, and showed that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.
The team found that 60 minutes after meditating, the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load — the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels that were lower than pre-meditation levels.
“Even a single hour of meditation appears to reduce anxiety and some of the markers for cardiovascular risk,” researcher John Durocher said. During the 60-minute session, participants meditated for 20 minutes and then were instructed to do a 30-minute “body scan”. They were asked to intensely focus on one part of their body at a time, beginning with their toes.
The exercise was designed to help train their mind to pivot from detailed attention to a more broad awareness. They ended the session with 10 minutes of self-guided meditation. “The point of a body scan is that if you can focus on one single part of your body, just your big toe, it can make it much easier for you to deal with something stressful in your life. You can learn to focus on one part of it rather than stressing about everything else in your life,” said researcher Hannah Marti, who designed the study. The study will be presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting.