As a trained Health & Physical Education teacher I’ve always been interested in innovative training methods to enhance heart health. On Wednesday last week I learnt of scientific research that demonstrated what Buddhist monks have told us for years – that meditation is good for your heart.

The West hasn’t always been keen to embrace meditation. Some see it as a waste of time, or not for them. Most see it as something you might consider doing only if you are stressed – and even then there are those who are resistant.

So it was with great interest that during a workshop with Dr Barbara Fredrickson, a world-renowned positive psychologist that I learned of the impact of Loving Kindness meditation (LKM) on vagal tone.

Put very simply, vagal tone is the difference between your heart rate when you breathe in, compare to your heart rate when you breathe out.

The higher this difference – the higher your vagal tone.

The higher your vagal tone – the more likely you are to recover after a cardiovascular illness or event. Ie. Your heart is fitter.

Those with higher vagal tone have also been shown to have better health in general, lower levels of stress and anxiety, as well as better ability to regulate their attention and emotions.

Dr Fredrickson showed us the research that demonstrated how practicing LKM raises your vagal tone and suggested we advocate for a daily diet of LKM, just as we do a daily diet of fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps as the science continues to roll in, the West will begin to warm to meditation as a pro-active measure to enhance its health and wellbeing.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at and tweets at@danhaesler