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Healthonym Is a Safe Space

WHAT IS TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION (TM)?

Meditation began in India about 3,000 years ago. The purpose of meditation is to intentionally put yourself in an altered state where you experience greater awareness, presence, and a complete sense of self.

There are many different forms of meditation. They include Sahaja Yoga meditation and transcendental meditation (TM).

TM is based on Hindu teachings and has grown in popularity over the recent years. It’s a relatively simple and effortless form of meditation that doesn’t rely on religious practice.

People who practice TM perform a mantra meditation technique. In other words, they repeat a certain word or phrase while seated comfortably with their eyes closed. This helps them focus on the word or phrase as opposed to distractions, like the stresses of life.

Most commonly, TM is practiced twice a day for about 20 minutes at a time.

Although TM is simple at its core, some people can benefit from a teacher. Qualified TM instructors undergo extensive training.

In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) classified TM as a technique that “may be considered” for lowering blood pressure.

That is, the benefits of TM are probably greater than its risks but we need better evidence of its effect on blood pressure.

HOW TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION AFFECTS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE*

For adults in general:

  • Transcendental meditation might lower your systolic blood pressure around 2.43 to 6.09 mm Hg
  • Transcendental meditation might lower your diastolic blood pressure around 0.97 to 3.70 mm Hg

SUCCESSFUL TREATMENTS USED IN RESEARCH

You may need to take classes to learn TM

Unlike most forms of meditation, you’ll have to jump through a few costly and time-consuming hoops with TM. If you wish to practice it as originally described and used in research, that is. This will include some instruction with a certified TM teacher, practice, check-ups, and so on.

Less costly alternatives, like self-guiding books, or potentially free local classes may exist.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

AGE

With respect to your systolic blood pressure:

  • TM might be least effective at lowering the systolic blood pressure of people under the age of 25.
  • TM may be most effective at lowering the systolic blood pressure of people aged 25 and older.
    • This is especially true for people over 65 years of age.

With respect to your diastolic blood pressure:

  • TM appears to lower the diastolic blood pressure of people under 25.
  • TM may have little to no effect on the diastolic blood pressure of people aged 25 and over.

GENDER

For women:

  • TM appears to lower your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

For men:

  • TM may have little to no effect on your systolic blood pressure.
  • TM can lower your diastolic blood pressure.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Blood pressure monitor picture

With respect to your systolic blood pressure:

  • If it is less than 120 mm Hg, then TM may have little to no effect on your systolic blood pressure.
  • If it is more than 120 mm Hg, then TM may lower your systolic blood pressure.

With respect to your diastolic blood pressure:

  • If it is less than 80 mm Hg, then TM might lower your diastolic blood pressure.
  • If it is between 80 and 89 mm Hg, then TM may have little to no effect on your diastolic blood pressure.
  • If it is at least 90 mm Hg, then TM may lower your diastolic blood pressure.

This strange effect on diastolic blood pressure can be explained by a lack of high quality data on TM’s effects on blood pressure.

DURATION OF TREATMENT

It may take up to 2 to 4 months of consistent practice for you to lower your blood pressure using TM.

However, it appears TM’s beneficial effects on blood pressure might disappear after 6 to 12 months of practice.

It’s unclear why this is the case. Scientists suspect that there may have been a seasonal effect at play during research.

Because blood pressure is naturally lower in the winter than the summer, the shorter studies may have missed the effect of normally higher blood pressures seen in the winter months.

This could’ve erroneously skewed things in favor of TM.

SIDE EFFECTS

None reported.

*EVIDENCE

PEOPLE STUDIED

Participants were men and women around 16 to 80 years old, with an average age of 42.

Some had normal blood pressure. Others had elevated blood pressure. Further others had high blood pressure (hypertension). Some were on blood pressure medication while others were not.

TYPES OF STUDIES

Randomized, controlled, clinical trials. Controls mainly used health education. Trials lasted anywhere from 2 to 60 months.

QUALITY OF EVIDENCE

There’s a lack of high quality data on this topic. As a result, scientists are uncertain about these findings. Additional studies are necessary.

REFERENCES

For references, please click here.