Meditation is gaining popularity because of its effectiveness, and newer studies continue to discover the diverse benefits of meditation. Along with enhancing our psychological and emotional wellbeing, meditation also has physical benefits. It’s been proven to improve our heart health and immunity system. In this article, we’ll discuss if meditation also improves blood circulation.
Regular practice of meditation increases blood circulation in the brain and other organs. During the practice, your body and mind relax, blood pressure stabilizes, and heart also functions normally. Improved blood circulation provides more oxygen to every part of the body, helping them perform better.
Although there hasn’t been a lot of quality research in this area, it doesn’t mean meditation isn’t effective. Let’s take an in-depth look at the connection between meditation and blood circulation. We’ll also discuss a simple technique to help you get started with your practice.
How meditation improves blood circulation
When you’re stressed or anxious, your body responds by releasing stress hormones. The heart starts pumping faster to send more oxygen to the body’s organs. Meditation relaxes the body and the mind. It slows down this irregular functioning of the heart, improving the efficiency of blood circulation.
Enhanced circulation keeps your heart and other organs healthy and helps them function properly. It provides oxygen-rich blood to every part of the body, which increases your immunity.
Research also shows that meditation reduces mortality risk from heart diseases, lowers blood pressure, and helps you quit smoking.(1) Transcendental meditation, a form of meditation that involves mantras, has also been found to encourage mindfulness and improve heart health. The findings show that patients with heart diseases who practiced meditation increased their cardiac blood flow by over 20%.(2)
Another study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined the effects of meditation on 40 Chinese undergraduates. They were assigned to two groups: one group went through a relaxation raining program while the other practiced a form of meditation called integrative body-mind training (IBMT). Both programs consisted of 30 minutes of training for 5 days in a row.
Tests were performed on both groups after the training period. The researchers measured their positive and negative mood using a self-reported questionnaire and examined images of blood flow in brain areas associated with emotion and mood. They observed that both groups had a significant improvement in both blood flow and mood. However, the improvements in the meditation group were greater than the relaxation group.(3)
Other physical benefits of meditation
Meditation doesn’t just improve blood circulation; it helps us achieve physical fitness as well. Workout and physical exercise may not be sufficient for gaining perfect health. The road to fitness involves exercise, healthy food, yoga, and regular meditation.
The primary goal of fitness is to harmonize the body and the mind and get them to function equally well. If your mind is disturbed by negative or stressful thoughts all the time, you are unlikely to benefit much from any workout routine.
Regular meditation calms the mind, clears the limiting self-beliefs, and changes the brain’s chemistry, helping it perform better.
Meditation also reduces brain aging, keeping it younger. Research reveals that long-term meditators have healthier and younger brains than non-meditators of the same age.(4)
Apart from that, meditation also helps you with addiction. Overcoming any kind of substance abuse requires a lot of discipline and self-control, and meditation has been proven to increase your self-control.(5) To learn more about how it helps you overcome addiction, read this article.
Finally, meditation also reduces stress, which causes many health issues. Studies reveal that using Headspace, a meditation app, for just 10 days can cause a 12% decrease in stress.(6) The researchers also found that the app for 30 days reduced the participants’ stress by a third.
Stress reduction results in better immunity, higher energy levels, and improved sleep quality.
How to meditate for improving blood circulation
There are many forms and techniques of meditation for people with different temperaments and needs. Most studies are conducted on mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that requires you to pay attention moment by moment without judgment.
Breath-focused meditation is a simple way to start your mindfulness journey. It’s one of the most popular and effective forms of practice. Other ways to meditate are mantra meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and Tonglen meditation.
Here’s how to do meditation for improving blood circulation:
- Set aside 10-20 minutes. Use your phone or alarm clock to set a timer. You can even start with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time.
- Spread a mat or place a cushion on the floor. The ideal position is to sit down cross-legged, but you can also sit in a chair.
- Cross your legs and sit down. Make yourself comfortable. You want to sit firmly so that you don’t have to keep moving throughout the session.
- Keep your back straight. Hold your body erect and look straight ahead. Don’t slouch or overarch.
- Place your hands in your lap. Put one hand on top of the other, palms facing upward. Alternatively, you can just cross your fingers and drop the hands in front of you.
- Close your eyes and relax. Gently close your eyes without squeezing them. You can also keep them half-open, but it’s easier to focus with your eyes fully closed.
- Take a few deep breaths. It’s a good idea to take a few deep breaths before starting your practice. Diaphragmatic breathing calms the mind.
- Watch your breath. Let the body breathe on its own and observe every breath. You can notice the sensations at your nostrils orthe rise and fall of your belly. The idea is to stay with each inhalation and exhalation.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring it back. It’s perfectly normal if you’re only able to focus your attention for a few moments before the mind wanders off. The effort of meditation lies in bringing the mind back to your breath every time it drifts away.
The beginning is the hardest part. Once you develop a habit of meditation and see improvements in your day-to-day life, it becomes easier to stick to it.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has many physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. It improves blood flow in the brain and other parts of the body, helping them function better. These benefits are both short-term and long-term.
Meditation contributes to our physical wellbeing in several other ways too. It balances our blood pressure and heart rate, helps us quit smoking, and strengthens our immune system. It also helps us with mental illnesses such as ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder, and depression.
It’s easy to get started with meditation. You can learn it from the comfort of your home, and it costs nothing. If you’re concerned about your wellbeing and want to improve the quality of your life, you should certainly consider meditating regularly.
I hope this article inspired you to start your meditation journey if you haven’t already. Good luck.
|1.||↑||Levine, G. N., Lange, R. A., Bairey-Merz, C. N., Davidson, R. J., Jamerson, K., Mehta, P. K., Michos, E. D., Norris, K., Ray, I. B., Saban, K. L., Shah, T., Stein, R., Smith, S. C., Jr, & American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; and Council on Hypertension (2017). Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(10), e002218.|
|2.||↑||Bokhari, S., Schneider, R.H., Salerno, J.W. et al. Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography: A pilot study. J. Nucl. Cardiol. (2019).|
|3.||↑||Tang Y-Y, Lu Q, Feng H, Tang R, and Posner MI (2015) Short-term meditation increases blood flow in anterior cingulate cortex and insula. Front. Psychol. 6:212.|
|4.||↑||Luders, E., Cherbuin, N., & Kurth, F. (2015). Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1551.|
|5.||↑||Tang, Y.‐Y., Posner, M.I. and Rothbart, M.K. (2014), Meditation improves self‐regulation over the life span. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1307: 104-111.|
|6.||↑||Economides, M., Martman, J., Bell, M.J. et al. Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness 9, 1584–1593 (2018).|