Meditation My Way
RESPeRATE is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. It's available without a prescription. RESPeRATE uses chest sensors to measure your breathing, and then a computerized unit creates a melody for you to use to synchronize your breathing. The melody is supposed to help you slow your breathing with long exhalations.
Although studies on RESPeRATE are ongoing, it appears RESPeRATE can help lower your blood pressure in the short term. Researchers are still investigating whether using RESPeRATE over the long term can create lasting effects on lowering your blood pressure.
RESPeRATE is intended to be used at least 15 minutes a day, three to four days a week. Within a few weeks, the deep-breathing exercises can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure — the top and bottom numbers in a blood pressure reading. You need to keep doing the breathing exercises to maintain the blood pressure lowering benefits.I have a history of trying one blood pressure med after another; either they didn't really work or they caused unwelcome side effects. I learned that my 5-HTP "magic pill" can produce blood pressure spikes that are often a result of interaction with the hypertension pills. As a result, I use a home bp monitor several times a day.
Almost as soon as I started using RESPeRATE, I noticed my bp stabilized below 150/90, the acceptable upper limit now recognized for those over 60.
When I saw those steady, acceptable numbers, I cut my daily 300mg Avapro pill in half. After a few more weeks of steady readings, I stopped taking it altogether. Naturally, I got the OK from my internist, who advised me that people who go off bp meds (because they are getting normal readings) often see a big jump in the numbers in six to ten weeks.
After eight pill-free weeks, my bp is holding steady.
Though less faithfully, I've also been using another other device recommended by Mayo: Zona Plus, a hand-held gizmo that calibrates grip strength. I sense that it helps. Using RESPeRATE takes about 15 minutes a day; Zona Plus takes about ten.
Recent Studies on Meditation
- Last May, the journal Psychological Science published results of a randomized trial. Undergraduates who spent just ten minutes a day for two weeks practicing mindfulness improved -- about 16 extra points -- on the verbal portion of the Graduate Record Exam. They also significantly increased their working memory capacity, which is the ability to maintain and manipulate multiple items of attention.
- Confirming my own "joy of quiet" experiences, one study found that letting your mind wander (as I do) can generate surges of creativity. The study found that physicists and writers came up with their most insightful ideas while spacing out.
- Yet another study found that mindfulness meditation actually "changed" the brain, and in areas that could ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.