Mindfulness lies at the core of every meditation practice. As described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” Kabat-Zinn believed that practicing mindfulness has beneficial effects on our health, and he developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program that incorporated mindfulness into medical practice.
With time, studies have shown that mindfulness is good for your heart, too. There are different ways in which mindfulness works to improve cardiovascular health. Let’s have a closer look at three reasons why mindfulness is good for your heart.
1. Noticing Potential for Change
Brown University researchers have uncovered a curious link between mindfulness and heart health. Their study identified individuals with dispositional mindfulness — those who are naturally gifted with an awareness of themselves and the world around them in the present moment — and found that they had an 83% greater prevalence of good cardiovascular health.
The connection between mindfulness and good heart health might be a simple one: those who possess a great measure of self-awareness will have an easier time noticing the source of potential cardiovascular problems. In other words, they will be more aware of what their body needs and be more mindful of the impact their everyday life has on their body. This awareness allows them to make timely lifestyle changes that help them stay healthy.
2. Managing Stress
Mindfulness can be learned through practicing meditation, which in turn improves your capability to manage stress effectively. As many studies have shown, chronic stress is one of the biggest risk factors for developing various cardiovascular diseases. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction can help individuals develop and improve their mindfulness while keeping their stressors under control. This practice has a beneficial effect on their heart and vascular function and decreases their risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
3. Lowering Blood Pressure
According to a 2017 American Heart Association study, a mindfulness meditation practice can have a beneficial effect on your heart rate variability and blood pressure.
HRV measures the speed with which your heart makes changes in the interval between heartbeats. The higher your HRV, the healthier your heart is. Low HRV has been connected to a 45% increase in risk of stroke or heart attack in people who haven’t previously suffered from cardiovascular disease. The study has found that five minutes of mindfulness meditation for ten days was enough to improve HRV.
Furthermore, nine studies have been collectively analyzed, and it was found that mindfulness meditation can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. On average, the values were reduced by 4.7 mm Hg and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively.
The work of preserving heart health starts on an individual level — by practicing mindfulness, you improve your odds of staying healthy and avoiding cardiovascular disease.
Here at Premier Heart & Vascular Center, we’ve made it our mission to care for your heart health. If you have any concerns about your cardiovascular health, our highly-skilled team of heart physicians will provide you with expert care.
Visit our website to find out more about preserving your cardiovascular health.