Exaggerated heart rate oscillations during two meditation techniques

Authors
C K Peng, Joseph E Mietus, Yanhui Liu, Guruchaan Khalsa, Pamela S Douglas, Herbert Benson, Ary L Goldberger
Publication
International Journal of Cardiology
Volume 70, Issue 2, P.101-107
Abstract

We report extremely prominent heart rate oscillations associated with slow breathing during specific traditional forms of Chinese Chi and Kundalini Yoga meditation techniques in healthy young adults. We applied both spectral analysis and a novel analytic technique based on the Hilbert transform to quantify these heart rate dynamics. The amplitude of these oscillations during meditation was significantly greater than in the pre-meditation control state and also in three non-meditation control groups: i) elite athletes during sleep, ii) healthy young adults during metronomic breathing, and iii) healthy young adults during spontaneous nocturnal breathing. This finding, along with the marked variability of the beat-to-beat heart rate dynamics during such profound meditative states, challenges the notion of meditation as only an autonomically quiescent state.

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