High Blood Pressure

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Nothing
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High Blood Pressure

Post by Nothing » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:13 am

I suffer from stress and anxiety. I bought myself a blood pressure (BP) unit and it seems the only time my BP is normal is when I first awaken (I check it regularly).

I've been wondering lately, of the two, I think I need to focus on meditating to relax. I don't want to sound all dramatic, but it literally might be a case of life or death, or at the least, a healthy or unhealthy life. Currently, my BP readings are around 148 / 98 (and sometimes higher).

I would like to shift my focus from insight meditation and start focusing on Samatha because I really need to relax and get my BP readings down. It is recommended you have BP readings no higher than 138 / 38 out of the house (I think they mean when the Dr takes your BP reading at the health centre, or hospital), and no higher than 134 / 34 in the house (when you take your own BP readings). As I said above, my BP readings seem to be around the 148 / 98 mark.

My question is, could someone please give me a concise overview of how Samatha differs from Vipassana meditation? I hear listening to soothing music or listening "Sounds of the Forest" can help you meditate to relax, but aren't these considered unnecessary? How do you meditate using the Samatha technique?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks all.

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Sam Vara
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:56 am

Nothing wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:13 am

My question is, could someone please give me a concise overview of how Samatha differs from Vipassana meditation? I hear listening to soothing music or listening "Sounds of the Forest" can help you meditate to relax, but aren't these considered unnecessary? How do you meditate using the Samatha technique?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks all.
Samatha meditation is meditation which aims at producing mental calm, and is probably best thought of as a wide range of techniques rather than just one. People often differentiate it from other styles which aim at insight (vipassana) although again it might be best to think of this as a type of mental activity rather than something associated with a specific meditation technique.

Generally speaking, meditation to calm the mind works when the mind finds something soothing and pleasant to latch onto and stay with. The breath is the most common meditation object in this respect, as per Anapanasati. Again, there are lots of different ways to focus on the breath, including the touch of the air at the nostrils, or the awareness of the full breath as it enters and leaves, or as it affects other parts of the body. You will see a lot of discussion about which is best, and which method is closest to what the suttas describe, but given the tone of your post I wouldn't bother with that too much, and just do what calms the mind. There are lots of different videos, audios, and text-based guided meditations, so Google some, try those that look appealing, and see what happens.

If you have a BP unit, you can monitor the effects for yourself. But don't make the mistake of getting even more hung up on your BP readings! With meditation of this sort, do what feels good and which leaves you feeling calm and happy afterwards. An ability to "relax into" the breath or other meditation object and really enjoy it is a good sign. Purists will say that using music and natural sounds tapes is not helpful, but if you have them, then it is worth giving them a try alongside breath meditation. And don't forget any other methods (diet, exercise, etc.) that might help your BP.

Good luck!

paul
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by paul » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:01 am

A good guide to samatha ( it also covers vipassana/discernment) would be the book “With Each and Every Breath”, Thanissaro Bikkhu.

“Breath. The word “breath” covers a wide range of energies in the body. Most
prominently, there’s the energy of the in-and-out breath. We tend to think of this breath as
the air coming in and out of the lungs, but this air wouldn’t move if it weren’t for an
energy in the body activating the muscles that draw it in and allow it to go out. When you
meditate on the in-and-out breath, you may start by paying attention to the movement of
the air, but as your sensitivity develops, you become more focused on the energy.
In addition to the energy of the in-and-out breath, there are subtler flows of energy
that spread through all parts of the body. These can be experienced as the mind grows
more still. There are two types: moving energies; and still, steady energies. The moving
energies are directly related to the energy of the in-and-out breath. For instance, there is
the flow of energy in the nerves, as all the muscles involved in breathing, however subtly,
are activated with each breath. This energy flow also allows you to have sensation in the
different parts of the body and to move them at will. There is also the flow of energy that
nourishes the heart with each breath, and then spreads from the heart as it pumps the
blood. This can be felt with the movement of blood through the blood vessels and out to
every pore of the skin.”

Nothing
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Nothing » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:47 am

Thanks both

I'm reading “With Each and Every Breath” right now and it is good.

What should I google for, what words should I enter? Samatha meditation?

binocular
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by binocular » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:55 am

Try also with more mundane solutions, such as reducing the intake of foods that increase blood pressure.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:55 am

Nothing wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:47 am

What should I google for, what words should I enter? Samatha meditation?
Yes, that should do it. I've just tried it and there are lots of videos and articles. They are of varying quality, of course, but as I said, go with what you like.

You might also want to try this:

https://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/ ... wakening/

and anything on meditation by Ajahn Sucitto. He is both clear, and inspiring enough to make persisting seem like a good idea.

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Kim OHara
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:31 am

binocular wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:55 am
Try also with more mundane solutions, such as reducing the intake of foods that increase blood pressure.
Yes.
A good diet (lots of fresh food, but cut down on fats and salt) and regular exercise (walking is good) will help reduce any physical causes of high blood pressure.

:namaste:
Kim

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salayatananirodha
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:50 pm

16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

Nothing
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Nothing » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:31 pm

I have done some googling but as I thought, there's so much information out there, so I don't know what's good practice and what is not so good.

All I learned was that with Samatha you close your eyes to meditate - an even that's not a consistent teaching.

I just want to know what I need to do when I sit and practice Samatha meditation. With Vipassana, I sit with eyes open and focus on the breath, and try to stay with the breath. Not sure how Samatha differs.

EDIT: This is the problem I'm having:

Samath Meditation
Choose a length of time to meditate for. 20 minutes is a good bet.
Choose to sit somewhere peaceful and relaxing.
Sit comfortably in a meditation chair. Make sure you have good posture. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
Rest your hands on your thighs with your fingers reaching out to your knees. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.
Take a few minutes to relax.
You may keep your eyes open if you like. If so, rest our gaze in front of you.
Bring your attention to your breath. Do not force your attention. Rather, rest in gently on the breath.
Thoughts and ideas will stir in your mind. Peacefully observe them. Then rest your attention back on your breath.
Always remember that the key is to calmly observe the meditation object.


Which sounds exactly like the Vipassana meditating I have been doing for the last 4 months.

dharmacorps
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:11 pm

I developed high blood pressure over a period of a couple years when my practice was going very well and I was meditating more than ever and feeling calmer than ever. In other words, there is likely only a tenuous relationship between blood pressure and meditation. Genuine hypertension can exist regardless of what is happening in your meditation, and it is the "silent killer". Best leave interpretation of your blood pressures to doctors rather than us yahoos on message boards :anjali:

santa100
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by santa100 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:14 pm

Nothing wrote:I would like to shift my focus from insight meditation and start focusing on Samatha because I really need to relax and get my BP readings down.
Meditation alone simply won't cut it. You'll need to combine it with good diet, sufficient sleep time, and daily exercises (outdoor cardios would be best). From the article below:
Obesity time bomb wrote:But scientists have now concluded that the tradition is contributing to an obesity epidemic among the Buddhist monkhood.

For according to a startling new study, nearly half the country’s monks are obese and suffering related health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
As far as Samatha vs Vipassana, try Anapanasati which contains elements of both types (ie. the focusing in the in-out-breaths as a Samatha meditation object (1st-3rd tetrads); and the reflection on the impermanent and selfless nature of the breaths for Vipassana contemplation (the 4th tetrad)). Refer to Ven. Buddhadasa's very thorough Anapanasati instruction here

paul
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by paul » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:09 pm

:goodpost:
santa100 wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:14 pm
You'll need to combine it with good diet, sufficient sleep time, and daily exercises

As far as Samatha vs Vipassana, try Anapanasati which contains elements of both types (ie. the focusing in the in-out-breaths as a Samatha meditation object (1st-3rd tetrads); and the reflection on the impermanent and selfless nature of the breaths for Vipassana contemplation (the 4th tetrad).
The daily exercises can be combined with samatha meditation in a wilderness setting. "With Each and Every Breath" is really a practical exposition based on the Anapanasati sutta, so studying the 1st- 3rd tetrads in coordination with the practise in the book would be supportive, and that study would resolve the question about the difference between samatha and vipassana.

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Pondera
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Pondera » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:02 am

At the bottom of your heart is your “atrium”. It is the natural pace-maker of the heart. From personal experience I know it’s possible to calm the body and mind down in a process that starts with relieving unseen tension in the atrium. Not a Buddhist teaching by any means, however, you asked for samatha and that is what I offer.

:anjali:
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

Justsit
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Justsit » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:43 am

Pondera wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:02 am
At the bottom of your heart is your “atrium”. It is the natural pace-maker of the heart.
In the interest of accuracy regarding human physiology, the human heart has two atria, right and left, at the top of the heart, and two ventricles at the bottom. The atria and ventricles are the chambers that hold the blood as it moves through the heart. The pacing is an electrical activity regulated by the sino-atrial node.

That being said, meditative concentration can indeed result in dramatic decreases in heart rate and blood pressure, in addition to changes in brain activity.

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Pondera
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Re: High Blood Pressure

Post by Pondera » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:04 am

Justsit wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:43 am
Pondera wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:02 am
At the bottom of your heart is your “atrium”. It is the natural pace-maker of the heart.
In the interest of accuracy regarding human physiology, the human heart has two atria, right and left, at the top of the heart, and two ventricles at the bottom. The atria and ventricles are the chambers that hold the blood as it moves through the heart. The pacing is an electrical activity regulated by the sino-atrial node.

That being said, meditative concentration can indeed result in dramatic decreases in heart rate and blood pressure, in addition to changes in brain activity.
My apologies. Entirely my fault. The word I was looking for was “apex”. Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve talked or wrote about it.

In this gif you can see the role that the apex plays in the beating of the heart.

Image

And justsit is entirely correct about the electrical pace making of the heart in conjunction with the sinoatrial node.

My point is that a great deal of the power of the heart beat comes from the apex. And there is unseen tension there. Relaxing and letting go of that tension begins a process which can lead to tranquility and pleasure not of the flesh. Thank you justsit for the correction.
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

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