Schneider, dean of the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, is also director of the university's government-sponsored Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, one of 16 such centers in the country. Schneider has been researching the positive effects of the ancient medical science of maharishi vedic medicine -- of which transcendental meditation (TM) is key --for the past 15 years.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as systolic blood pressure -- the top number -- averaging 140 mmHg or greater, and/or diastolic blood pressure -- the bottom number -- averaging 90 mmHg or greater. The systolic pressure is the pressure of blood in the vessels when the heart contracts. Diastolic pressure is the pressure of the blood between heartbeats when the heart is at rest.
In the past 30 years, says Schneider, approximately 600 studies have been conducted worldwide on the effects of transcendental meditation on blood pressure. "TM is a simple mind-body technique that allows you to gain a unique state of restful awareness or alertness," says Schneider. Studies have repeatedly shown it to be effective in easing stress, one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Though there are many kinds of meditative techniques, it is only TM, says Schneider, that has been studied and been proved to be effective in improving a range of risk factors for heart disease. Researchers believe that the deep rest achieved through TM sparks biochemical changes that help the body and mind reach a more balanced state, in turn triggering the body's own self-repair mechanism.