Meditation and Cardiovascular Health


May 5, 2021


“Just taking a couple of moments to breathe, pay attention to yourself and your surroundings, and exist in the present moment can make a difference in your health.”


Awaken Pittsburgh extends its empathy and compassion to those struggling in the face of violence, discrimination, and other ongoing social challenges in our world today. As we seek to improve the health and wellness of our communities, we hope our efforts will help cultivate a safe space to practice, learn, and guide each other through these difficult times.


A Moment with Awaken!

As part of our interview series, board member Darrell Rubin, MD wanted to explain why he, as a cardiologist, advocates for mindfulness.

“Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death for Americans in 2019 (AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2020 update). Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking are well known components of healthy living that decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Encouraging these healthy choices is a major goal of healthcare in America. Of course, COVID-19 is currently the most urgent and significant healthcare challenge we are faced with, but maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle must not be forgotten. Meditation is one way to start improving upon your cardiovascular health.

Meditation is an exercise of awareness and concentration. It is known to improve blood pressure control, encourage healthy eating, and support quitting smoking. In January, the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Statement on the Mind-Heart-Body connection reinforced its position that in addition to the current standard of care, meditation may be considered to help lower cardiovascular risk. In addition to this AHA statement, there has been growing scientific evidence about the benefits of adding meditation to your wellness routine.

One of the most frequent objections to meditation is a lack of time to sit quietly focusing on one’s breathing. In spite of the surprising strength of this objection, this simple exercise, even when fit into the tiny snatches of time available in a busy schedule, can be the beginning of a profound change toward healthy living. Mindfulness meditation is a particular practice described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” This practice increases awareness and compassion and can lead to healthy changes in many fields of one’s life. Just taking a couple of moments to breathe, pay attention to yourself and your surroundings, and exist in the present moment can make a difference in your health.

Given the low cost and effectiveness of meditation, can you afford not to try it? Decide today. Join a class or try an app. If you have any questions or want to join a local community of experienced meditators and skilled instructors, please visit Awaken Pittsburgh’s website and join a class.”



How Can Awaken Pittsburgh Support Your Mindfulness Practice?

Have you already joined our Awaken Practice Community? If not, it’s not too late.

The Awaken Practice Community is a virtual network where you can grow your practice as part of a supportive community. In our first two weeks, we had over 40 people join! The Awaken Practice Community is an educational platform where you can expand your understanding, ask questions, and connect with others who are on their own mindfulness journeys. We will include regular wellness and meditation resources, live sessions for shared practice, safe spaces to talk about your own progress, and so much more.

If you have previously joined one of our Mindful Connections programs at Awaken Pittsburgh, you are eligible to join. If you have not received an email invite, reach out to:

If you or someone you know wants to take our introductory course, Mindful Connections for Wellbeing, we will be offering another one in June! More info coming soon!



How is Awaken Pittsburgh Impacting the Community?

In total, Awaken offered programming to 187 adults and 48 youth in the first quarter of 2021!

  • Outreach: In the first few months of this year, Awaken Pittsburgh presented information and guided meditation to 10 different local and national groups! The total people who had access to these transformative practices was over 5,000!
  • Environmental Charter School: We are happy to announce that we have completed the pilot of our new Mindful Connections for Bias Awareness program. We thank the Staunton Farm Foundation for their generous support of our work on this new curriculum and the Environmental Charter School for hosting us. We are now ready to bring this program out into the larger community. Get in touch with Stephanie ( to find out more!
  • The Hilltop Family Care Connection Center, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Office of Child Development at Pitt: Awaken Pittsburgh completed our pilot of Mindful Connections for Supporting Families and is now designing our latest program, Mindful Connections for Parents and Kids. Thanks so much to the Birmingham Foundation for their support of this most recent curriculum development and delivery.
  • Institute for Clinical Research and Education of the University of Pittsburgh: We are very excited to be bringing our Mindful Connections for Helping Professionals to provide practices and support for faculty, administration, students, and staff.
  • Brashear High School: We now are in our fourth year of supporting teachers and students. This year has been especially difficult due to the pandemic, but we are happy to say that students and teachers have had a small respite every day as we work to bring them practices to deal with their stressors.



How Can You Support Our Work?

Donations of any amount are always much needed to continue to bring mindfulness practices to folks who cannot afford them. Did you know that you can make recurring monthly donations to support mindfulness coming to more folks in our community who can’t afford it? Check out how to do it here.


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