Can Meditation Help Lower High Blood Pressure?

Meditation is a relaxing mind-body practice. Some people find it helpful for sleep and stress. Some evidence suggests it can also help to lower blood pressure.

While researchers have yet to determine how it does so, one theory is that the practice may affect activity in the autonomic nervous system, which regulates blood pressure.

Meditation appears to calm activity in the sympathetic nervous system (known to narrow the blood vessels in response to stress) and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (known to promote widening of the blood vessels).

This article will go over using meditation to manage your blood pressure to defend against heart disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. You will also get a brief overview of how to practice meditation if you have high blood pressure.

Man in meditation
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How to Meditate If You Have High Blood Pressure

Practicing meditation to lower your blood pressure is similar to using it for sleep and stress management.

Meditating is safe for most people, even if you have high blood pressure or another medication condition. That said, it's always a good idea to talk to your provider about taking up a new health habit.

If you want to meditate but don't know how here is a brief step-by-step guide to meditation.

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable, and relaxing place.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let your muscles relax. You may have to purposefully unclench your muscles to relieve the tension.
  3. Focus on your breathing.
  4. Choose a word, phrase, or sound that you can repeat (a mantra) to help you stay present during your meditation. While "OM" is often associated with meditation, you can pick whatever you want.
  5. While you are meditating, your mind will wander. You may have thoughts or worries come into your head at times or be distracted by something around you. Instead of trying to tend to these things, just let them happen. It might help to try to see them as "washing over you" or simply passing by you.
  6. Continue repeating your mantra and focusing on your breathing. You can continue your practice as long as you like. At first, you might find it hard to stay focused for more than a few minutes at a time. With practice, you might find that you can (and want to) meditate for longer.

You might decide to make meditation a part of your daily routine. It can also be something that you do to cope during times of stress. If you're using meditation to help with your blood pressure, you might find that doing it consistently supports your goals best.

Research on Meditation and Blood Pressure

Transcendental meditation (a type of meditation that involves silently repeating a word, sound, or phrase in order to stop distracting thoughts from entering the mind) may be effective for controlling blood pressure, according to a 2008 analysis of nine clinical trials.

Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading and diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number.

Investigators concluded that practicing transcendental meditation may have the potential to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively.

However, it should be noted that an earlier research review published in 2004 sized-up five clinical trials and found a lack of good-quality studies to support the use of transcendental meditation for the management of blood pressure.

Summary

Since scientists have yet to prove that meditation can significantly lower your blood pressure, it's important not to rely solely on meditation as a means of keeping your blood pressure in check.

To get and maintain normal blood pressure levels, eat a balanced diet, limit your intake of sodium and alcohol, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking.

If you're interested in using meditation to manage high blood pressure, talk to your provider about adding the practice to your treatment. While meditation might be helpful, it likely will not be enough on its own to address your needs. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care for high blood pressure can have serious consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does meditation help lower blood pressure?

    Researchers aren't exactly sure how meditation affects blood pressure. Since the practice tends to help people feel calmer, it's thought that the changes to the nervous system that promote relaxation also affect blood pressure.

  • How long should you meditate to lower blood pressure?

    Your meditation practice can be as long or as short as you want. If you feel calm after a short meditation, then you're getting the relaxing benefits. If you need to meditate for longer, that's OK too. With more practice, you might find that you can—and want to—meditate for longer.

  • Does deep breathing lower blood pressure?

    Breathing exercises can help bring down your blood pressure in some cases, like if you're anxious or stressed. However, if you have a condition that causes high blood pressure, deep breathing and meditation won't be enough to keep your levels controlled.

  • Does anxiety affect blood pressure readings?

    Feeling anxious can make your blood pressure go up, but it usually is temporary.

    A common example is "white coat hypertension," which happens when a person is nervous about being at their provider's office. When they have their blood pressure taken, the reading might be higher than usual because they are anxious.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Meditation: In Depth.

  2. Kumar S, Nagendra H, Manjunath N, Naveen K, Telles S. Meditation on OM: Relevance from ancient texts and contemporary scienceInt J Yoga. 2010;3(1):2-5. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.66771

  3. UAB Medicine. Anxiety or Calm Can Cause False Blood Pressure Readings.

Additional Reading
  • Anderson JW, Liu C, Kryscio RJ. Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-Analysis. Am J Hypertens. 2008 21(3):310-6.

  • Canter PH, Ernst E. Insufficient Evidence to Conclude Whether or Not Transcendental Meditation Decreases Blood Pressure: Results of a Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Hypertens. 2004 22(11):2049-54.

  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Meditation: An Introduction. NCCAM Publication No. D308. Updated June 2010.

  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure.

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.