Best Meditation To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

meditation to lower blood pressure

Scientific research has consistently shown that meditation lowers blood pressure naturally. And no wonder. Meditation is perhaps the memost relaxing activity in the world. And it naturally reduces stress. [READ: Using Meditation To Reduce Stress]. 

By taking just twenty minutes a day to meditate, improve your health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

How Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure

There are many ways in which meditation and high blood pressure are related. To understand how we need to look at the nature of both high blood pressure and meditation.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is sustained abnormally high blood pressure. In many cases, there are no symptoms of the condition, but people with high blood pressure may notice a pounding feeling in the chest of head, along with dizziness, light-headedness and other symptoms.

If untreated it can lead to a stroke, heart attack, weak and narrow blood vessel in the kidneys and eyes, metabolic syndrome, dementia, memory problems, and aneurysm.

High blood pressure is often treated by medications like Thiazide diuretics, Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and Calcium channel blockers. Other options include walking, relaxation, and health changes like quitting smoking and drinking, reducing caffeine, losing weight, and eating a healthy diet.

Meditation is a health practice derived from Hinduism, Yoga, and Buddhism. When we meditate, we focus the mind on the present moment without judgment and continue to do so for around twenty minutes. There are various forms of mindfulness such as mantras, mudras, breathing techniques, visualizations, and there are guided meditations for high blood pressure.

Using meditation for high blood pressure

Meditation can work alongside conventional treatments for high blood pressure and pharmacology. 

According to Dr Randy Zusman at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, meditation helps with the formation of nitric oxide, a compound that causes blood vessels to open, thus reducing blood pressure.

Plus, meditation increases conscious awareness, which enables us to make lifestyle changes. For instance, quitting smoking, quitting drinking, and enjoying a healthy diet. It does this by increasing self-awareness and reducing cravings. Hence, mindfulness helps with high blood pressure both directly and indirectly.

Stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure. And no surprise. 

Stress is extremely detrimental to our health, so much so that the American Psychological Association links stress to six of the leading killers [2].  Stress leads to so many health complications, including hypertension, depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and of course, high blood pressure.

Indeed, stress a leading cause of high blood pressure [3], even though according to Mayo Clinic, there is no scientific proof linking stress to long-term high blood pressure. Indeed, many authorities state that the reason for the link between high blood pressure and stress is indirect—stress leads us to live unhealthy lifestyles that impact blood pressure.

This, however, is also why it is so imperative to use meditation to lower blood pressure. Because not only does mindfulness directly benefit heart health, but it also heightens consciousness, which enables us to live a healthier lifestyle.

The Best Meditation To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

As a mindfulness instructor, lots of people ask me exactly how to use meditation to lower blood pressure naturally.  And the truth is that there are many different mindfulness techniques that help with blood pressure.

yoga meditation and blood pressure systolic
yoga meditation and blood pressure systolic

Integrated Body Mind Training

Science shows that the best types of meditation to lower blood pressure are mindfulness, MBSR, Yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These practices also help to manage the painful symptoms of hypertension. These are all forms of Integrated Body Mind Training. 

One especially good exercise is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. 

The Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine published an article in October that highlighted how mindfulness-based-stress-reduction helps with blood pressure. [4]

Joel W Hughes PhD of Kent State University says, “Our results provide evidence that MBSR,  [Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction] when added to lifestyle modification advice, may be an appropriate complementary treatment for BP in the prehypertensive range.”

In the study, 56 men and women diagnosed with prehypertension—blood pressure which is higher than usual but for which no antihypertensive drugs have yet been prescribed—were divided into two groups.

One group used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to lower blood pressure, practising for 2.5 hours a week. The other group used a muscle relaxation technique along with lifestyle changes.

Researchers then took the blood pressures of members of each group. The results showed that participants who had practised meditation lowered blood pressure significantly, by an average of nearly 5 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), compared to less than 1 mm Hg in the control group.

Mindful Breathing  

Research from Yale University suggests that the best meditation to lower blood pressure is mindful breathing using paced breaths.

We usually breathe at a rate of around 12 to 14 breaths per minute. Slowing this pace to five to seven breaths per minutes could balance blood pressure, according to Yale.

“One of the most plausible mechanisms is that paced breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system, which reduce stress chemicals in the brain and increase vascular relaxation that may lead to lowering of blood pressure,” says Suzanne LeBlang, M.D., a neuroradiologist, second and corresponding author, and an affiliate associate professor in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine

Another study [Pramanik et al., 2009] revealed that slow-paced bhastrika pranayama breathing balances blood pressure and that a respiratory rate of six breath per minute for five minutes can significantly decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 

Zen Walking

Another fantastic meditation technique for high blood pressure is Zen Walking.

Walking is one of the best ways to have a healthy heart.

Research conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that walking is as effective as running at lowering your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. [5]

I attempted to find specific research into the effects of Zen walking meditation, as opposed to simply walking and meditating (as separate activities). However, it seems that science has yet to investigate the effects of walking meditation on blood pressure.

However, given that we know that both meditation and walking are, individually, excellent techniques for balancing blood pressure, it seems only logical that Zen Walking Meditation, a technique that combines the two activities, should be perfect.

As well as walking meditation, there are alternative movement-meditation for high blood pressure.

Qigong, Tai-Chi And Falun Gong  

elderly woman doing tai chi in garden
elderly woman doing tai chi in garden

Many movement-based stress reduction techniques are also fantastic ways of lowering blood pressure. These are great if you prefer to use a gentle active meditation to lower blood pressure.

Much scientific research has advocated the use of Tai Chi, for instance. And QiGong is a similar practice, as is Yoga. And there are interesting developments relating to the use of Falun Gong meditation. 

 

Easy Meditation Script To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Beginners will find it best to practice a simple form of meditation to lower blood pressure naturally. With hypertension, you certainly don’t need the additional stress of worrying whether you’re meditating correctly or not.

Let me show you a meditation script for blood pressure that I personally use.

  1. Sit somewhere comfortable and relaxing
  2. Check you are sitting with good posture and that your body feels comfortable
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Focus your mind on your breathing. Specifically, focus on your breath as it enters your nose and mouth
  5. Follow your breath with your mind as it descends deeply into your lungs.
  6. Now breathe out, again following the breath
  7. Continue in this fashion for 108 breaths. You should notice that your breathing is deep and relaxed, and you should feel increasingly calm.
  8. After 108 breaths, open your eyes and stay still for a moment, relaxing.

This is a very simple meditation to lower blood pressure naturally. Its simplicity is its beauty. It is twenty minutes or so in which you can just sit and unwind, giving your body a chance to heal.

It is worth trying different methods to find the ones you like.

“It’s important to find an approach that you feel comfortable with,” says Dr Stein. “Maybe it’s just listening to your favourite music while you walk at a moderate pace.” 

UPDATES: 

June 2020: American Journal of Cardiology publishes report showing benefits of meditation for cardiovascular health. source

SOURCES:

1: High blood pressure (hypertension), Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

2: Life Event, Stress and Illness, Mohd. Razali Salleh, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

3: 7 ways to reduce stress and keep blood pressure down, Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/7-ways-to-reduce-stress-and-keep-blood-pressure-down

4: KENT STATE RESEARCH FINDS MEDITATION EFFECTIVE IN REDUCING BLOOD PRESSURE KentDepartment Of Psychological Sciences, https://www.kent.edu/psychology/kent-state-research-finds-meditation-effective-reducing-blood-pressure

5: Walking and running produce similar reductions in cause-specific disease mortality in hypertensives, Paul T. Williams, PhD. Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4090350/

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.