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Samatha-Vipassana Meditation and Heart Rate Variability

Buddhists monks who meditate regularly have better heart health than men of similar age who do not meditate. One measure of heart health is Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV is defined in terms of how different the lengths of time between each heartbeat are. We believe that people can learn to increase their own HRV and become healthier when they practice daily meditation.

This is a feasibility study to determine whether we can recruit enough volunteers and whether the volunteers will comply with the research protocol. We will assess whether people can change certain aspects of their HRV when they participate in a meditation training program. We also want to determine if doing daily meditation improves people’s ability to handle day to day stresses.

To analyze the results, we will do a “before and after” comparison of one aspect of the HRV measurement called the “resonant peak in the power density spectrum.” If we find that the volunteers are able to change their HRV pattern after 12 weeks of meditation training we will apply for funding from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to conduct a larger study.