Author Topic: Meditation and high blood pressure  (Read 800 times)

Derrick1989

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Meditation and high blood pressure
« on: December 24, 2019, 04:15:35 PM »
So I’m pretty active, eat healthy, and overall feel good but my blood pressure is consistently pretty high. I don’t take medication and I’m more about natural treatments. I’ve heard that meditation will help. Has anyone else dealt with this and using meditation to help? Also how would anyone recommend I start meditating to help with this(like a certain type of meditation or key things I need to do)

Thanisaro85

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2019, 12:16:20 AM »
So I’m pretty active, eat healthy, and overall feel good but my blood pressure is consistently pretty high. I don’t take medication and I’m more about natural treatments. I’ve heard that meditation will help. Has anyone else dealt with this and using meditation to help? Also how would anyone recommend I start meditating to help with this(like a certain type of meditation or key things I need to do)

There are many accomplished meditation monks in thailand who need to eat medications for maintaining the health of their body.  Even Reverend father Pramote has to go chemo for his cancer.

Meditations might have some mind and body benefits but i am not sure to what extend. Spiritually for sure.

Every problem has its' solution. If we look at causes and effects, i would think that a proper diet and exercise maybe a long term solution to high blood, and medications is the short term solution to control it.

Maybe you can look into natural herbs if you don't like synthetic medicine?
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 01:29:30 AM by Thanisaro85 »
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

stillpointdancer

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2019, 12:45:46 PM »
So I’m pretty active, eat healthy, and overall feel good but my blood pressure is consistently pretty high. I don’t take medication and I’m more about natural treatments. I’ve heard that meditation will help. Has anyone else dealt with this and using meditation to help? Also how would anyone recommend I start meditating to help with this(like a certain type of meditation or key things I need to do)

This definitive study on using meditation to lower blood pressure is well worth a read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3303565/ I went on medication many years ago, but I'm sure my meditation helps keep it down to a minimal dose. It depends how high you are talking about. The study does say, "Transcendental meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction may produce clinically significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure." However, it comes with a warning, "More randomized clinical trials are necessary before strong recommendations regarding the use of meditation for high BP can be made."
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Siddharth

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2019, 04:21:22 PM »
Another point to note is meditation is not something you can rely on when you need it the most. Assuming even that you are skillful enough to completely keep your blood pressure in check through meditation and other non-mainstream ways,
when life really throws shit at you, and those moments come in everyone's life, I think only a few people are skilled enough in practise to not let it affect them at their worst, and that is the exact time when something like high blood pressure can trigger more dangerous issues in the body..
I would strongly suggest to not ignore the medicine, but yes you should definitely re-vamp your diet. that is something very effective.
Read the book : "how not to die" by michael greger for more on this..
And what is good, Phædrus,
And what is not good...
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2019, 11:16:15 PM »
Meditation teaches you skills and practical mind/body interventions, primarily to deal with stress and make you more resilient, on a basic level. Reduction in stress is linked to lower blood pressure for many, so you may well be able to benefit Derrick.

On the homepage there is a link to the "Calm Abiding/Shamata" meditation instructions. This would be a practice to start possibly helping you, it's all about calming and centering yourself. It reduces stress and builds resilience.

I know meditation can make a huge difference. After twenty years or so of practice I can change my pulse and blood pressure intentionally. More so the pulse, but I can lower or raise my blood pressure too. A nurse didn't believe me when I told her this, so I raised my pulse from 69 up to 120,then down to 35, and repeated the cycle. It took about one minute twenty seconds. The look of shock on her face was priceless.

Have a read of the Calm Abiding practice, and if you have questions, please ask. Otherwise, find a comfortable spot where you'll be alone at peace, and have a go for twenty minutes to start with. See how it goes, and let us know. Any time you have a question or hit a roadblock, the community will offer up their experience to help.

Meditation is a doing thing, not a thinking or reflective thing. At least for the beginnings. Don't worry and don't give yourself any stress by having expectations or seeing goals. Just "suck it and see" - if you work out how to do it, and try for a month, I'd expect your blood pressure to be somewhat improved next time the doc checks.

Just a note that anything said in a forum such as this should not override taking proper medical advice.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Thanisaro85

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2019, 03:38:33 AM »


I know meditation can make a huge difference. After twenty years or so of practice I can change my pulse and blood pressure intentionally. More so the pulse, but I can lower or raise my blood pressure too. A nurse didn't believe me when I told her this, so I raised my pulse from 69 up to 120,then down to 35, and repeated the cycle. It took about one minute twenty seconds. The look of shock on her face was priceless.
.

Matthew, could you let me know how you do it? Is it deep breathing? I need to lower my pulse as and when. Thank you🙏🙏🙏
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

mobius

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2019, 03:06:28 AM »
I remember seeing a documentary years ago about monks [I'm assuming it was Tibet or that area] who could raise their body temperature so that they could sit in the cold mountain with only with wet T-shirts.

And in my short time practicing I can occasionally feel my body slowing down (whether it's my blood pressure/pulse/heart rate or metabolism or something else I'm not sure) and my body temperature lower; once when I meditated right after I finished showering and was somewhat hot or flushed I actually started shivering a little bit as I my temp dropped apparently.

So I definitely believe with the right tools/guidance awesome 'powers' over mind and body can be achieved.  :)
"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
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"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2019, 08:30:44 PM »
Matthew, could you let me know how you do it? Is it deep breathing? I need to lower my pulse as and when. Thank you🙏🙏🙏

Hi Thanisaro,

It is hard to precisely describe what happens, though yes it is very much related to breathing. I'll do my best. First some background:

As touched upon in the Shamatha article, the vagus nerve provides feedback directly to the brainstem from internal organs, including the lungs, and also the aortic receptors. These chemoreceptors feed back to the brain information about C0² and O² levels in the blood, and blood pressure. There are similar chemoreceptors on the Carotid artery which also measures blood pressure, and like the Vagus, feeds directly to the brainstem via a branch of the Glossopharyngeal nerve, the ninth cranial nerve, and which also connects to and from the vagus as part of this feed-back network. Another receptor group within the Aortic body provides information about blood glucose levels, and one in the Carotid body provides body temperature - so there is a definite link to mobius's comment above:

I remember seeing a documentary years ago about monks ... who could raise their body temperature so that they could sit in the cold mountain ...

The above physiological information tells us that the brain is "aware", even if usually only on a deeply subconscious level, of the feedback and information the receptors provide. These nerves terminate and originate in the brainstem and are largely controlled by the Hypothalamus, part of the endocrine system and the Autonomic Nervous System. The Hypothalamus is a key control centre for the autonomic nervous system and is connected directly to the Pituitary gland, which sits right below it. The Pituitary gland secretes hormones that control just about everything from sex drive to glucose levels (via signalling the pancreas), metabolism (the method monks use to raise body temperature), and blood pressure. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) ... "is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal". Source: Wikipedia).

The ANS has two primary modes/branches, only one or the other will be active: the sympathetic, which controls states of fight/flight, and the parasympathetic, which turns on the "rest and digest" and "feed and breed" states of being. The parasympathetic is the system we activate via the Vagus nerve in meditation. We are basically "hacking" our own bodily systems in this way, even with simple breathing practice, as we take partial control of respiratory rate by the mere act of being mindful of breathing. As we "breath in calming bodily fabrications, and breath out calming bodily fabrications", this kicks off a chain reaction telling the mind that the body is calm, and thereby calming the mind: it's a big fat feedback loop, starting with the mental intention to breathe ... "sensitive to the entire body" and .. "calming bodily fabrications", but by doing so, calming the mind too.

The ANS ... "largely acts unconsciously". However, as we know, and with practice, that which is subconscious/unconscious can be brought into consciousness. I have long argued the Vagus nerve is of very great importance in how meditation translates into changes in the bodymind. I think the above information shows how that works in basic physiological terms and with the most fundamental aspects of homeostasis (the networks are a bit more complicated but this isn't meant to be a full-on biology lesson, so I'll leave it there).

The first phenomena in this realm I became consciously aware of directly knowing was when my blood sugar levels are low. I noticed that I could sense this internally, as a felt sensation, prior to the usual behavioural symptoms appearing (primarily a short-burst, mild form of "mania"). Prior to connecting the externalised behavioural signs with the internal felt sense, I would often be doing physical work, and when my blood sugar dropped I would double down on the physical work for half an hour, before finding myself exhausted (the "short-burst" mania). Only then would I sense hunger - and go and eat the contents of the fridge. At some point early on as a meditator I started noticing the internal felt sense of low blood sugar earlier in this cycle, so would go and top up my blood sugar with a sandwich and some fruit or a drink, then return to the physical work.

With my heart rate, I started noticing that when I was doing mindful breathing practice I would sometimes become very aware of my heart beating. It wasn't beating abnormally fast or slow, I just became more and more aware of the fact it was beating. I mindfully paid attention to the sensations of the heart beating some of the time, and noticed that on the out breath, and on the in breath, I could calm/relax the heart in the same way as I could calm/relax any other bodily tension. I noticed this would lead to my heart rate slowing. As I became more and more mindful of this effect, I slowly gained the ability to raise or lower my heart rate with the combination of awareness and intention. Within a few months from those first experimental steps, I was able to move my heart rate to anywhere from 40 beats per second up to 100 and back down to my normal resting rate of 60 beats per second. It took a couple more years of practice to be able to maintain a lower or higher rate for more extended periods - though by that time I was no longer living in a Dhamma centre and was practicing for a couple of hours a day, rather than four or five hours.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 08:52:29 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2019, 08:46:27 PM »
..
And in my short time practicing I can occasionally feel my body slowing down (whether it's my blood pressure/pulse/heart rate or metabolism or something else I'm not sure) and my body temperature lower;

Keep paying attention/being mindful and you will gain insight into what is happening.

Quote
once when I meditated right after I finished showering and was somewhat hot or flushed I actually started shivering a little bit as I my temp dropped apparently.

If your skin was damp then this may well have been the effect of 'evaporation cooling' on this occasion.

Quote
So I definitely believe with the right tools/guidance awesome 'powers' over mind and body can be achieved.  :)

I don't believe, I know through experience - experience anyone can gain should they wish to :)
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

dharma bum

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Re: Meditation and high blood pressure
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2019, 04:06:10 PM »
Meditation definitely has made me more sensitive to my body and how my mind and body affect one another. Sometimes when I am stressed, I can detect that my heart has an extra murmur and after some minutes of calm breathing, sometimes I can noticeably quieten it down.

Some days I find myself unusually angry and then a couple of days later I fall sick. For a long time, I was under the impression that being angry/stressed lowered my immune system causing me to fall sick. Now I'm not sure if I fall sick because I'm angry, or my mind gets angry because the body is in the process of falling sick. It seems like they are related and both might be true. (These are all my observations/conjectures. Please don't assume them to be scientifically established).
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 08:28:58 PM by dharma bum »
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