Why meditating is good for more than just your mind…

As a trained Health & Physical Education teacher I’ve always been interested in innovative training methods to enhance heart health. A couple of months ago I learned of scientific research that demonstrated what Buddhist monks have told us for years – that meditation is good for your heart.

The West hasn’t always been keen to embrace meditation. Some see it as a waste of time, or not for them. Most see it as something you might consider doing only if you are stressed – and even then there are those who are resistant.

So it was with great interest that during a workshop with Dr Barbara Fredrickson, a world-renowned positive psychologist that I learned of the impact of Loving Kindness meditation(LKM) on vagal tone.

Put very simply, vagal tone is the difference between your heart rate when you breathe in, compare to your heart rate when you breathe out.

The higher this difference – the higher your vagal tone.

The higher your vagal tone – the more likely you are to recover after a cardiovascular illness or event. In short, the higher your vagal tone – the fitter your heart.

Those with higher vagal tone have also been shown to have better health in general, lower levels of stress and anxiety, as well as better ability to regulate their attention and emotions.

 Dr Fredrickson showed us the research that demonstrated how practicing LKM raises your vagal tone and suggested we advocate for a daily diet of LKM, just as we do a daily diet of fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps as the science continues to roll in, the West will begin to warm to meditation as a pro-active measure to enhance its health and wellbeing.

0 thoughts on “Why meditating is good for more than just your mind…

  1. Nicole Reply

    Yes, the more we recognise the benefits of meditation (or focused breathing) the better opportunities we offer our students.

    As an English teacher, I appreciate the inspirational properties of meditation – when we focus on the breath and ‘watch’ our inner world we allow ourself time to ‘see’ without the distraction of ‘mind chatter’. In this space creativity can ‘dance’. I regularly use focused breathing exercises in the classroom and the students enjoy the opportunity to experience a sense of calm. From this place learning is generally, easier. http://isthismystory.com/2011/08/meditation-a-breath-away-from-balance/

    • Dan H Reply

      Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for stopping by, and the link to your blog… There’s evidence starting to mount that suggests kids who take part in mindfulness practice 4-5 times a day for 5mins at a time have better educational experiences… It’s a pretty cool way to start your class!

      Cheers,
      Dan

    • Dan H Reply

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting…

      I reckon your meditation practices go a long way to explain why you can call your (awesome for anyone who hasn’t checked it out yet!) blog http://happysteve.com 🙂

      Cheers,
      Dan

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