You may want to consider meditation or deep breathing relaxation as part of your smart heart living plan.
I still laugh out loud when I remember an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza's father Frank is shrieking, "Serenity now!"His doctor told him to say this in an effort to reduce his blood pressure. I don't think his attempts were successful!
Frank Costanza aside, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years - originally as a way to help people deepen their understanding of the spiritual forces of life. These days, many people use it for relaxation and stress reduction.
Support from the medical profession
According to WebMD Medical News in 2005 "Meditation has gone mainstream. No longer the exclusive domain of New Age types, more than 10 million Americans now practice some form of meditation on a regular basis. For many, the practice has been recommended by a physician."
Numerous studies have found that it may be beneficial if you have a medical disease or condition, especially one that may be aggravated by stress.
A Yale study found that people who practiceyoga and meditation at least three times a week may reduce their blood pressure, pulse, and most importantly, their risk of heart disease. (medicinenet.com)
According to the the Journal of the American Medical Association (2006), the practice may improve cardiac risk factors in patients with coronary heart disease.
Reported in the media: Meditation is effective in controlling blood pressure without the possible side-effects and hazards of anti-hypertension drugs.
Practicing relaxation techniques can help to:
You may also gain these benefits:
Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation, a sense of calm, peace, and emotional stability. And these effects don't end when your session ends. You can experience lasting effects on your emotional and physical well-being.
How can you get started?
Anyone can practice meditation or relaxation. It's simple, it doesn't have to cost anything, and it doesn't require any special equipment. Here are some easy meditation techniques.
Just take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and think of a peaceful scene. In fact, you can spend a few minutes doing this almost anywhere — whether you're at home, at your desk, out for a walk, riding the bus, or standing in a line-up.
Like many skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people find taking a class to learn and practice relaxation skills very helpful. Others attend retreats. And some learn through reading or instructional CDs or DVDs.
Deep Breathing Relaxation
Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can easily do anywhere. It’s a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With regular practice, you will be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress. When you are upset, your breathing is shallow, restricted, and fast but when you are calm it is deeper, slower, and more relaxed. When you practice deep, steady breathing, you can release emotional tension and calm your mind.
Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down.
Close your eyes. Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you're lying on the beach, walking in the forest, or enjoying a breathtaking view of majestic mountains. Hold this scene in your mind.
Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.
Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing relaxation.
Breathe deeply. Focus all attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Breathe deeply and slowly. When you feel your attention wander, gently return your focus to your breathing.
Scan your body. Focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's sensations, whether it's pain, tension, warmth, or relaxation. Combine this with breathing exercises and imagine breathing relaxation into different parts of your body.
Repeat a mantra. A mantra is the name of a sacred deity or a sacred phrase that you repeat silently or aloud. You can create your own mantra.
Combine a walk with meditation. It's a healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking — in a tranquil forest, on the beach, in your neighborhood, or even at the mall. Walk at a slow pace so you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on your destination. Concentrate on your body, repeating words in your mind such as "lifting," "moving" and "placing" as you lift your foot, move your leg forward, and place your foot on the ground.
Engage in prayer. Pray to your higher power using your own words or read prayers written by others. You may want to talk with your spiritual leader about resources.
Read, listen, and take time to reflect. Many people benefit from reading poems or sacred texts silently or aloud and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on the meaning of the words. You can listen to sacred music, spoken words, or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
Set aside personal time every day for meditation or relaxation. As little as five or 10 minutes can help.
This is not a replacement for medical treatment but it can be a beneficial part of your overall smart heart living approach.