Author: Dr. Bilof
I started practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) about a year ago. Reason being, I was told my blood pressure was a little high. Yikes, my blood pressure is high! I don’t smoke. I exercise regularly. I am not overweight (after all who would go to a bariatric surgeon who is overweight!). Of course, I will confess to enjoying an occasional alcoholic beverage (but you have to have at least one vice, don’t you?). I guess my point is, I thought I was basically doing all the right things for my health and here my doctor is telling me I have high blood pressure…bummer! Guess it was my family history or “stress” (who knew being a surgeon was stressful??).
Anyhow, like most of you reading this who had bariatric surgery so you could stop taking medicine for diabetes, and high blood pressure, I didn’t want to take any medicine if I didn’t need to. So I began looking around for things that could help control blood pressure without medication.
The most important is exercise which I was already doing but I have definitely stepped it up a notch over the last year. In addition to exercise I looked at what would be called other types of behavioral therapies (not medications). Turns out the American Heart Association (AHA) published a statement about these types of therapies about a year ago. You can find the link here.
Let me give you the brief version. They looked at the evidence for different types of therapies: 1)TM, 2)Other meditation techniques, 3)Biofeedback, 4)Yoga, and 5)Other relaxation techniques. Reviewing the best available scientific evidence there were only two techniques they could recommend as being safe and having some evidence of effectiveness. They were Transcendental Meditation and Biofeedback. To be fair, the authors did say the level of evidence for both TM and biofeedback was a little weak (not all the studies were that well designed) and that more research was needed. However, both TM and Biofeedback had evidence of effectiveness were definitely safe and without harmful side effects.
My personal experience with TM has been great. I find it very relaxing and it is a very easy technique to learn (and I have tried other types of meditation in the past, this is the one that feels the most “natural”).
In case you’re wondering, I check my blood pressure frequently and it is very well controlled (but since I am good patient I also take my blood pressure medicine). At my next doctor visit I will ask about stopping the medicine and seeing how my blood pressure is with just the TM (stay tuned!). For me though, the most noticeable effect from the TM is I sleep much better. I used to “toss and turn” quite a bit and often didn’t feel totally rested when I woke up. That happens much less since I started practicing TM.
So, if you are stressed out or your blood pressure is high or you want to sleep better or you just want to check out TM you can go to their website here.
For the record I am not sure I agree with everything on their website or even know everything that is on their website but it is a good place to start if you are interested.
If you do want to learn TM there are centers in Summit, NJ and in Monmouth county in Shrewsbury, NJ. If you choose to learn TM you will get a discount since you are a patient of this practice. Just let me know and I can give a prescription and when you go to the center you will get a discount.