Meditative Practice Cultivates Mindfulness and Reduces Anxiety, Depression, Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate in a Diverse Sample

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Meditative practices have been used as adjunct interventions for mental disorders and medical conditions. Although these innovative techniques have been the focus of much research, few studies have investigated the impact of mindfulness meditation on psychological and physiological variables in a diverse sample that may be at risk of developing stress-related medical conditions that can be linked to anxiety-inducing mental disorders. Our aim was to examine the effects of mindfulness meditation, eyes-closed relaxation, and silence on nonjudgmental awareness, anxiety, depression, blood pressure (BP; commonly defined as the pressure or force of blood against the inner walls of blood vessels as blood flows through the circulatory system and usually is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg), and heart rate (HR; commonly defined as the speed of the heartbeat and is typically measured in beats per minute) in African Americans. Meditation significantly increased awareness and decreased anxiety, depression, BP, and HR in participants who practiced 30 min per day four times per week for 12 weeks. Eyes-closed relaxation noticeably reduced anxiety, BP, and HR but had no effect on awareness and depression as indicated by the measures used in this study. Results of the data collected from individuals in the group exposed to silence for 30 min per day four times per week for 12 weeks were not significant. Present findings provided evidence to support the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation and suggested that this practice may serve as an inexpensive, nonpharmacological way of positively impacting the psychological and physical health of university students and urban residents who might be at risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, an inability to focus or pay attention, or even major stress-related illnesses because of the demands of school and quality of life.

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