Meditation is simply a mental exercise that can improve our concentration, increase awareness of the self and the present moment. 


Despite technical and medical advances, cardiovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Various lifestyle modifications have been proposed to mitigate the risk, including meditation, which can be a cost-effective adjunct to current medical therapies.  

Meditation is simply a mental exercise that can improve our concentration, increase awareness of the self and the present moment.  

Types of Meditation

Although various types of meditation are currently practiced, they have many similarities and differ mostly in methodology. As of now, no studies are suggesting one is better than the other. Samatha, Vipassana, Mindful, Zen, Rajyoga, and Transcendental meditations are some popular ones available. Many training courses for a modest fee and smartphone-based apps are available for learning and practicing. 

Samatha means “calm,” and as the name suggests, this meditation aims at calming the mind by a single-point focus on breath, image, or object.  

Vipassana means “to see things as they are.” This meditation employs observing our breathing, thoughts, and sensations as they come. There are various training centers worldwide, including the US, which offer 10-day courses for beginners.  

It is popular in Japan, and this meditation focuses mainly on awareness of breathing.  

Referred to as “yoga of the mind,” this meditation practices concentration of mind to bring it to one focus using breathing, chanting, and spinal cord focus points.  

It is a chanting-based meditation in which every practitioner gets a personalized chant from the teacher.  

Effects of Meditation on Cardiovascular Health 

Studies have reported changes in brain structure and function in meditation practitioners, including positive affect, body awareness, self-and emotion regulation [1]. Moreover, many studies showed improvements in perceived stress, mood, depression, anxiety, sleep, and overall wellbeing [2-5]. 

Blood pressure reduction has been demonstrated in some randomized controlled trials [6-8]. Some studies have reported an improvement in smoking cessation rates, possibly altering urge intensity and self-control [9-10]. Data on primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease is limited, although some studies suggest a possible benefit on morbidity and mortality [11-13].  

American Heart Association Statement on Meditation 

The mainstay of primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease remains ACC/AHA guideline‐directed interventions such as guideline-directed medical therapy and lifestyle modification with diet and exercises. However, meditation may be considered an adjunct to guideline-directed cardiovascular risk reduction, with the understanding that further randomized controlled studies are warranted to establish the benefit.  


  1. Davidson RJ, Kabat‐Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, Muller D, Santorelli SF, Urbanowski F, Harrington A, Bonus K, Sheridan JF. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med. 2003;65:564–570 
  2. Carlson LE, Doll R, Stephen J, Faris P, Tamagawa R, Drysdale E, Speca M. Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness‐based cancer recovery versus supportive expressive group therapy for distressed survivors of breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31:3119–3126.
  3. Tang YY, Ma Y, Wang J, Fan Y, Feng S, Lu Q, Yu Q, Sui D, Rothbart MK, Fan M, Posner MI. Short‐term meditation training improves attention and self‐regulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007;104:17152–17156.
  4. Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175:494–501. 
  5. Klatt MD, Buckworth J, Malarkey WB. Effects of low‐dose mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR‐ld) on working adults. Health Educ Behav. 2009;36:601–614.
  6. Palta P, Page G, Piferi RL, Gill JM, Hayat MJ, Connolly AB, Szanton SL. Evaluation of a mindfulness‐based intervention program to decrease blood pressure in low‐income African‐American older adults. J Urban Health. 2012;89:308–316.
  7. Nidich SI, Rainforth MV, Haaga DA, Hagelin J, Salerno JW, Travis F, Tanner M, Gaylord‐King C, Grosswald S, Schneider RH. A randomized controlled trial on effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on blood pressure, psychological distress, and coping in young adults. Am J Hypertens. 2009;22:1326–1331.
  8. Bai Z, Chang J, Chen C, Li P, Yang K, Chi I. Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. J Hum Hypertens. 2015;29:653–662.
  9. Davis JM, Manley AR, Goldberg SB, Smith SS, Jorenby DE. Randomized trial comparing mindfulness training for smokers to a matched control. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2014;47:213–221.
  10. Brewer JA, Mallik S, Babuscio TA, Nich C, Johnson HE, Deleone CM, Minnix‐Cotton CA, Byrne SA, Kober H, Weinstein AJ, Carroll KM, Rounsaville B. Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: results from a randomized controlled trial. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011;119:72–80.
  11. Barnes J, Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Rainforth M, Staggers F, Salerno J. Impact of transcendental meditation on mortality in older African Americans with hypertension—eight‐year follow‐up. J Soc Behav Pers. 2005;17:201–216.
  12. Zamarra JW, Schneider RH, Besseghini I, Robinson DK, Salerno JW. Usefulness of the transcendental meditation program in the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol. 1996;77:867–870. 
  13. Alexander CN, Langer EJ, Newman RI, Chandler HM, Davies JL. Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989;57:950–964.

Basics & Safety

Guidelines and precautions for a safe yoga practice, ensuring safety during yoga movements.