Meditation, an ancient practice that focuses on the mind-body connection, has plenty of health benefits. Whether it's practicing yoga, tai-chi or sitting in a corner and clearing your mind, past research has suggested that it has helped those with arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, depression, insomnia, high-blood pressure, cancer, HIV/AIDS and heart disease.
But don't think that meditation is just for older folks — it's for young people, too.
A recent study from Georgia Health Sciences University Institute of Public and Preventive Health found that meditation helped African-American teens lower their risk for heart disease.
Of the 62 teens in the study, half of them were taught transcendental meditation, which is a simple procedure of sitting comfortably for 15 to 20 minutes twice each day with your eyes closed. The other half were only given education on how to lower their blood pressure. Researchers found that those who meditated twice a day for 15 minutes each for four months had significantly lower left ventricle mass than those who did not. Higher mass is an indicator of future heart disease.
Our ventricles are the chambers in the heart responsible for pumping blood either to the lungs. The right ventricle pumps the blood to the lungs and the left pumps blood to the rest of the body. Science Daily reported:
"Increased mass of the heart muscle's left ventricle is caused by the extra workload on the heart with higher blood pressure," Barnes explained. "Some of these teens already had higher measures of left ventricular mass because of their elevated blood pressure, which they are likely to maintain into adulthood."
During meditation, which Barnes likens to a period of deep rest, the activity of the sympathetic nervous system decreases and the body releases fewer-than-normal stress hormones. "As a result, the vasculature relaxes, blood pressure drops and the heart works less," he said.
School records also showed behavioral improvements.
It's important to point out that mediating is not a religion, so it won't interfere with faith. And the great thing about meditation is it can also help you de-stress, you can do it anywhere and it's completely free.
Maybe now's the time to get your ohm on.
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