Friday, November 20, 2009

Meditation Cuts Risk Of Heart Attack By Half

A while back I was watching someone do a Karate kata, Sanchin I believe. Every change in posture was accompanied by loud hissing of breath, dynamic tension and intense straining of arms, legs and torso. You could see the veins pop out in his forehead.
And this is healthy? I think not.
Again, we see the Taoist philosophy of not harming the body during exercise as being a superior path. No pain no gain is pretty much bullshit for longevity, which is why practitioners of the internal or "soft" martial arts reach their peak in their fifties.
With all the stress of daily life, why would someone hiss and strain in a kata that is ment for health and self-defense? Even in self-defense we have to cultivate a calm mind. While I find seated meditation difficult and a little boring, the moving meditation of Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua and Xingyi really helps me focus and center. The difference from Trancendental Meditation is that instead of trancending the body to a seperate state, we strive to have full and complete mind-body integration.
Here's a great article from The Telegraph.UK that cites medical studies showing that meditation cuts heart attack risk by half. Here's some quotes:

"The researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, calculated heart attacks, strokes and deaths as one result and found a 47 per cent reduction in meditating patients.
They also had lower blood pressure and significant reductions in their stress levels, the researchers said.
Dr Robert Schneider, lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, said: "Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity.
"But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality."
Dr Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like a newly discovered medicine for the prevention of heart disease.
"In this case, the new medications are derived from the body's own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice," he said".

I gotta go practice my Tai Chi Chuan now...


Rick said...

With an engineering background, I find that I keep track of numbers. Among the numbers I have been most concerned with, have been my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

I have kept track for years. My diet has not changed all that much. What does change is that during the winter, I like to lift weight and walk on a treadmill; and that for the last couple of years, I have been practicing taijiquan regularly.

My blood pressure has never been high, but has always been at the border. The doctor has always made a point of watching closely for it to rise.

From just before beginning regular TCC practice, my blood pressure was 150/86. Now it's 120/76. The interrim period where I was lifting weights and walking didnt' seem to have an effect.

My cholesterol is just naturally high. It runs in the family. This can be treated with medication. The two numbers that I have trouble with are my HDLs (good cholesterol), which are supposed to go up with vigorous exercise; and my triglycerides which has historically been so high, that I'm really off the scale.

The weight lifting and walking had no effect, but since the regular practice of TCC, my HDL number has gone from 32 to 42, while my LDL number has gone down from 130 to 87.

My triglycerides when from off the scale to 200.

I don't know if I can attribute all of this soley to TCC, but that seems to be the one major variable and the numbers speak for themselves.

BSM said...

DJR - One of these days I'll dig back into this topic. I am totally fascinated by the fact that science has studied this but not enough in my opinion.

Various forms of mediation do benefit the body. I have a friend who's significant other is a doctor. He says western medicine is very resistant to the idea -- though some hospitals are starting to offer things like Qigong as an option to heart patients, cancer patients, etc.

The cool thing is a bunch of gray beards figured this out 1,000 years ago!

Alarice said...

Good and informative post. All should know the importance of the yoga and Meditation. I too doing my regular yoga practices by the help of the guidance which I got from the site are dedicated to Yoga. They providing such a good tips and guidance for my practices. They also providing good quality products...

Daniel Wilson said...

Certainly an interesting post. I'll be forwarding this to my wife (who tends to have high blood pressure issues). I also meditate though not with the frequency that I really need.

Of late i've endeavored to get up earlier in the morning so I can meditate before work - but i'm decidedly not a morning person. I think the health benefits of regular meditation are something that definitely warrants greater study, particularly the long-term benefits of using it as a regular practice.

Dojo Rat said...

I'm glad everyone got something out of this article, lots to think about.
I have some ideas on cholesterol to post about soon.

Charles James said...

"All Bottles are Good!"

Sean C. Ledig said...

I practice a version of Sam Chien, the Chinese predecessor to the Sanchin Kata.

I was told it could be practiced three different ways: with dynamic tension; slow and relaxed, like a Yang Taiji set; full speed and power, like most karate or kung fu sets.

Personally, I ignore the first method completely. The more I learn about dynamic tension, the more I realize it is a health hazard.

Besides that, it just develops too many bad habits that are hard to shake.