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Meditation can halve the risk of heart attack and stroke: study

Lia Grainger
Shine On
November 14, 2012

We've all heard that daily meditation is a potent weapon in the battle against stress and anxiety, but now a new study has found that 20 minutes of transcendental meditation twice a day can greatly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, reports Time.

For those unfamiliar, transcendental meditation involves the repetition of a mantra to still the mind, and was introduced in India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. The Beatles were just one group of famous practitioners, and today it is practiced by millions of people around the world and taught in a seven step program at special institutions.

"It's like discovering a whole new class of medications," lead author Robert Schneider tells Time.

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A professor at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, Schneider and his colleagues followed 201 African American men and women who had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Study participants were divided into two groups. One group attended a health education class about diet and exercise, and the other attended a transcendental meditation program.

The study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found that those participants who meditated had a 48 per cent lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from any cause than those who did not. In addition, the meditation also appeared to lower blood pressure and reduce levels of reported stress and anger.

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This is far from the first examination of the health effects of meditation -- there have been hundreds of studies exploring how the practice can reduce stress, blood pressure, and even change brain activity patterns.

In fact, some meditation programs are even covered by provincial health care programs, like the Meditation for Health program in Toronto, which is covered by OHIP.

If you're interested in trying it out, ArtofLiving.org offers free (non-transcendental) meditation classes, and you can find Canadian transcendental instruction at Globalcountry.org.

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