From the news release about the item
published in Psychosomatic Medicine, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic
"For years we've known that long-term practitioners of Transcendental
generally have lower blood pressure than others the same age," said Vernon A.
lead researcher in the study. "We are now beginning to understand
the underlying mechanisms responsible for the
beneficial influence of
Transcendental Meditation on risk factors for heart disease. One of these
mechanisms may be
reduced blood pressure related to reduced vasoconstriction."
The researchers conducted two tests with 18
long-term daily Transcendental
Meditation practitioners and a control group of 14 very healthy middle aged
did not meditate.
In the first test, both groups were simply at rest with eyes open. In the
for the Transcendental Meditation group only, participants were
told to close their eyes and "begin meditating."
For the control group only,
participants were told to close their eyes and "relax as completely
possible." The results of the study appear in the current issue of
Measurements were taken before, during, and after each session. The
output, vasoconstriction, heart rate, heart stroke volume,
and blood pressure were measured with blood pressure cuffs and
two sets of
tetrapolar electrodes, one emitting current and the other sensing for thoracic
measures of stroke volume.
During the 20-minute resting session, the Transcendental Meditation group
significant decreases in systolic blood pressure and vasoconstriction while
meditating, compared with increases
in the control group while resting.
The Transcendental Meditation group showed a significant 6.5
percent decrease in
vasoconstriction during meditation, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in the
during eyes-closed relaxation.
"The contrast between the two groups might have been greater if
Transcendental Meditation participants had been studied in their home
environment," said Barnes. "Some
participants reported their meditation was
disturbed by the inflation of the blood pressure cuff every five minutes and
the fact that they were not allowed to sit in a cross-legged position as they
were accustomed to doing during
meditation at home."
Additionally, the contrast between the groups might have been still greater
beginning meditators had been studied, since the blood pressure of the long-term
meditators was remarkably low from
This study was conducted in preparation for a research grant project entitled
Reduction: Prevention of High Blood Pressure in African American
Youth," currently supported by the National
Institutes of Health.