Meditate Your Way to a Healthier Heart
Several studies have found that transcendental meditation can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Transcendental meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on a repeated sound, called a mantra, for about 20 minutes every morning and evening.
But ThirdAge expert Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. exposes a form of meditation he calls medical meditation. In his book, Meditation As Medicine (Atria, 2002), Khalsa explains how he adapted and refined ancient kundalini yoga exercises and combined them with meditation.
Medical meditation, he says, involves focused breathing, yogic postures, various finger positions -- called mudras -- and maintenance of mental focus. In 25 years of medical practice, Khalsa has specialized in the areas of anesthesiology, pain management, brain regeneration and integrative medicine. He says that the breathing, postures and movements used in medical meditation channel energy to the heart, the brain, the pituitary and adrenal glands and the lungs.
Here is a meditation from his book, which he recommends to help keep the heart arteries open:
- With a straight spine, sit with your left heel under your bottom. The right knee is at the chest, foot flat on the floor. Forearms are parallel to the floor. Hands are flat and facing down, with the right palm resting on top of the left hand, tips of thumbs touching.
- Look down as deeply as possible. Completely inhale in four equal sniffs. Exhale completely in equal breaths through the nose.
- In your mind, repeat any mantra you wish as you inhale and exhale. "Peace" or "Healing" are two good ones.
- Do this for seven minutes. Add five minutes to each week of practice, meditating no longer than a half hour per session.
- End by inhaling deeply, holding the breath for 10 seconds, then exhaling. Repeat two more times.
Medical meditation is being studied at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, in conjunction with the Guru Ram Das Center for Medicine and Humanology. As more and more studies prove the connection of mind and body to overall health, medical meditation may be the perfect synthesis.