Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a sense of calm, peace, and emotional stability. It also may offer real benefits for heart patients, according to the American Heart Association, which as reviewed research studies on the health benefits
Although the research isn’t conclusive, several studies have
shown that meditation can lower blood pressure, cholesterol,
blood sugar, and stress hormones.
“Stress accelerates buildup of plaque in arteries and increases
the likelihood of irregular heartbeats, which can be life-threatening,” says Dean Ornish, M.D., a cardiologist and creator
of a vegetarian, very-low-fat diet to reverse heart disease. One
of the key elements of his program is a daily stress-management
session that includes meditation. “Directly or indirectly, anything
that helps you manage stress effectively stabilizes or reverses
heart disease,” he says.
Jane Percy, director of Riverlight Wellness Center in
Stonington, Connecticut, tells skeptics to take their pulse and
blood pressure, then follow a guided meditation, and take the
numbers again. “You’ll become a believer,” she says. “In two
minutes of mindful meditation, we can lower blood pressure; in
five minutes, cholesterol and blood sugar levels decrease; and in
15 minutes, measurable stress levels are reduced significantly.”
That’s terrific, but you say you’ve tried meditating and failed.
So what stands between you and om-magnificent peace?
Perhaps your personality. Take the following quiz to identify
your personality type and meditation solutions that work well
there’s an old saying that the only
wrong way to meditate is not to do it at
all. so why do people struggle with it?
1When I sit down and close my eyes to meditate:
A. I become drowsy and fall asleep.
B. My mind races from my to-do
list to childhood woes.
C. My body twitches or my back,
jaw, and calves clench.
D. I berate myself for wasting time.
E. I wonder why I don’t do this
2I don’t think I can meditate because:
A. I’d rather nap.
B. I’ve tried it and failed.
C. My body won’t calm down.
D. I’m too sensible to chant mantras.
E. While I’ve succeeded at it, I just
don’t have the time.
3Every time I darken the lights and close my eyes, I ask myself:
A. Where did all the time go?
B. Is someone trying to break in?
Did I hear a mouse in the attic?
C. Finally, some time to think. What
do I need at the grocery store?
D. This is a waste of time and a
load of hooey.
E. How much time do I have
4I can’t get comfortable in the lotus (legs folded in front of me, hands
resting on my knees) because:
A. My mind drifts and my head
B. My neck, hips, and lower back
ache from sitting too much at
C. My hands twitch and I have to
resist popping my knuckles.
D. Lotus position? Are we in India?
E. I haven’t been practicing my
flexibility exercises enough.
5My favorite form of exercise is: A. Running and walking, which
keep me upright and active.
B. Swimming. I like to compete
with the person in the next lane.
C. Yoga in a heated room. It keeps me
moving while relaxing my muscles.
D. Whatever the American Heart
Association and my doctor
E. Pilates, Tai Chi, and traditional
yoga. I slow down, turn inward, and
(Turn the page for answers.)
better homes and gardens | healthy lifestyles 19
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