Since the benefits of TM on overall health are so impactful, researchers from the American Heart Association wanted to see if the practice could reduce heart disease risk. In the study, 201 people were randomly assigned to participate in a transcendental meditation stress-reducing program or a health education class about modifying diet and exercise. Transcendental meditation participants sat with their eyes closed for 20 minutes twice a day, allowing their minds and bodies to rest deeply while still remaining present and alert in the moment, while health education group advisees were instructed to spend 20 minutes a day practicing heart-healthy behaviors like exercising, eating healthy meals, and relaxing.
Transcendental meditation helped African Americans with heart disease lower their risk of death, heart attack, and stroke. (Death from heart disease is 50 percent higher in black adults compared to whites in the United States, which is why researchers looked at this population.) Even in healthy men and women, meditation helped them to lower their blood pressure, stress, and anger compared with those who attended the health education class.