Assessment of Cardiovascular Parameters during Meditation with Mental Targeting in Varsity Swimmers.

Author: Rich TA1, Pfister R2, Alton J3, Gerdt D4, Baruch M4.
Affiliation: 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, USA; Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, 40 Enterprise Parkway, Hampton, VA 23666, USA. 2Department of Statistics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA. 3Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University School of Nursing, Charlottesville, VA, USA. 4Empirical Technologies Corporation, P.O. Box 8175, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
Conference/Journal: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
Date published: 2016
Other: Volume ID: 2016 , Pages: 7923234 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1155/2016/7923234. Epub 2016 Feb 11. , Word Count: 217

Introduction. Athletes who develop an immunosuppressed state because of intensive training get upper respiratory infections (URIs) and may respond to meditation. Reflective exercise (RE), a westernized form of Qigong, combines meditation, breathing, and targeted mental attention to an internal pulsatile sensation, previously shown to protect varsity swimmers from URIs during the height of training. We report here the evaluation of cardiovascular parameters measured during meditation combined with targeted imagery (interoception) in a cohort of varsity swimmers taught RE. Methods. Thirteen subjects were enrolled on a prospective protocol that used the CareTaker, a noninvasive cardiovascular monitor before, during, and after RE training. Questionnaires regarding targeted mental imagery focusing on a pulsatile sensation were collected. The cardiovascular parameters include heart rate, blood pressure, and heart rate variability (HRV). Results. Increased variance in the subjects' BP and HRV was observed over the training period of 8 weeks. In nine subjects there was an increased low frequency (LF) HRV that was significantly (p < 0.05) associated with the subject's awareness of the pulsatile sensation that makes up a basic part of the RE practice. Summary. These data support further evaluation of HRV measurements in subjects while meditating with mental imagery. This direction could contribute to better understanding of neurocardiac mechanisms that relate meditation to enhanced immunity.

PMID: 26981142 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC4766321 Free PMC Article