What is meditation?
Meditation is a process of self–reflection or self-contemplation, purification of mind and thoughts. Regular meditation practice aids in the development of mental control, enabling one to have peaceful thoughts, moral behavior, and moral deeds. It is a type of mental practice that helps the practitioner gain self-control. We are all mindful that our mental processes have an impact on our actions, feelings, and social interactions.
How cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stress are associated?
Stress affects the heart, blood vessels, and other organ systems, which causes neuro-visceral changes in the person. When mental stress is persistent and long-lasting throughout time, it can lead to hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and stroke in the individual. Similarly, negative emotions like anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred, etc. create neuropsychiatric conditions like anxiety neurosis, panic disorder, and depression. These may potentially operate as initiating agents in the development of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and stroke.
Read more: Exercise as a Remedy for Hypertension
Poor habits brought on by melancholy that leads to CVD
Ischemic heart disease and myocardial infarction risk are increased by a number of behaviors, including drinking, cigarette smoking, cocaine and marijuana usage, overeating as a result of despair, stress, escapism, or negative mental processes.
Endocrinal component of CVD
Mental stress is significantly linked to an increase in cortisol, norepinephrine, epinephrine, adreno-cortical hormones, TSH, and thyroxin at the hormonal level, and these hormones have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system.
Worldwide, mortality is an outcome of cardiovascular disease
Worldwide, CVD was responsible for 30% of deaths in 2001. Half of the CVD-related deaths occur in developed countries. The percentage in developing and poor countries was 28%. Ischemic heart disease has been identified as a leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide, with the highest death rates occurring in developed nations. According to statistics, coronary artery disease caused 28 percent of the 50.4 million deaths in industrialized countries overall.
Types of meditation
a) Samata meditation
In Samata or mindfulness meditation, participants are encouraged to close their eyes, sit comfortably in a space with low lighting, and pay attention to their inhalation and exhalation of breath. Once they can do that, the next stage is to watch for touch sensations over the nostrils as they inhale and exhale. This aids the meditators in managing his frequent, unwanted distractions.
b) Vipassana meditation
In Vipassana meditation, participants are first instructed to pay attention to their breathing and without attachment observe their physiological sensations. An individual is awake and conscious of their current state of awareness during the entire meditation session. The ultimate goal of meditation is to cultivate a quiet, stable, and equanimous mind. Its negative effects, such as wrath, hatred, and ill will, are eliminated, and its positive effects, such as love, compassion, and goodwill for oneself and others, are replaced.
c) Raja yoga
Raja Yoga meditation is a form of meditation that is accessible to people of all backgrounds. It is a meditation without rituals or mantras and can be practiced anywhere at any time. Raja Yoga meditation is practiced with ‘open eyes, which makes this method of meditation versatile, simple, and easy to practice. Meditation is a state of being in that place just beyond everyday consciousness, which is where spiritual empowerment begins. Spiritual awareness gives us the power to choose good and positive thoughts over those which are negative and wasteful. We start to respond to situations, rather than just reacting to them. We begin to live in harmony, create better and happier, healthier relationships, and change our lives in a most positive way.
d) Transcendental meditation
In Transcendental Meditation (TM), participants are instructed to repeat mantras for 20–30 minutes in the morning and 20–30 minutes in the evening in a serene, silent environment while closing their eyes. It induces physical and mental relaxation.
Effectiveness of meditation in preventing CVD
Following meditation, the physiological changes listed below are observed, including decreases in heart rate, pulse rate, stroke volume, vascular resistance, and the change from high-complex behavior to low-dimensional chaotic motions in heart rate signals. The body cells use less oxygen (O2) and release less carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result.
Additionally, there is a decrease in respiratory rate and minute ventilation without a change in the respiratory quotient, a rise in cerebral perfusion, a decrease in serum lactic acid level, and a decrease in galvanic skin resistance. The meditator experiences joy and happiness. Angiographically confirmed cases of myocardial ischemia exhibited regression of atherosclerotic lesions in a Raja yoga meditation therapy with dietary modification research.
Stress-related hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, TSH, and T3 are prevented from being released in excess during meditation, while DHEA, melatonin, serotonin, human growth hormone, and endorphin production are also increased. Thus, it aids in reducing stress, promoting physical and mental relaxation, and preventing the onset of hypertension and IHD. Meditation lowers blood pressure brought on by stress, worry, and other psychosocial factors. By lowering the release of sympathomimetic hormones, it protects myocardial ischemia both physically and psychologically. Regular meditation practice reduces anxiety, fear, and depressive symptoms. One is content and joyful.
Because stress causes a greater release of catecholamine and corticoids, it has been discovered that stress is linked to ischemic heart disease. By using the mind control technique of meditation, one can relax their thoughts. When the mind is calm, the sympathetic output is little. There is parasympathetic dominance over sympathetic. This aids in maintaining the tone of the coronary veins improves blood flow, lowers the heart’s need for oxygen, and may therefore aid in CAD prevention. Regular use could help avoid conditions like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, and re-infarction.