Meditation Can Slow Down Aging
Meditation | Women Meditating | Nobel Prize Winner
Meditation Slows Down the Aging Process
Even though this July 15, 2014 article is all about research done on meditation, it is common sense that meditation would slow down aging. Some people say that grey hair (that comes with aging) comes from stress. Meditation can significantly reduce stress.
Even though this article is based on recent research, research on meditation has been done for decades. For example the first picture above is from a July 2011 article from Cornell University that says:
In more recent times, researchers have hypothesized that the practice [of meditation] brings health benefits along with it – reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, even alleviating the symptoms of epilepsy.
One new paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience this spring used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to demonstrate the meditation can reduce the experience of pain, as well as pain-related brain activation.
The study was small, with only 15 healthy volunteers participating. But they saw about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.
In 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson wrote a best-selling book about the research showing the health benefits of meditation called The Relaxation Response. He is the founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute and is an author, cardiologist and was a professor of Medicine at Harvard University Medical School.
The University of Michigan says (2003) that the National institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the health benefits of the relaxation response like the restoration of sleep and reduction of pain. Other benefits include decreasing fatigue, increasing energy, increasing motivation, productivity, decision-making ability while decreasing stress hormone levels and high blood pressure.
Can Aging or Age Be Measured
This is talking about what is called biological age as opposed to chronological age that is just based on the time that you have been alive. According to the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine, aging can be measured. It was given to 3 Americans-- Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells.
For life to continue, chromosomes, that carry the DNA, divide. The Nobel prize was given for discovering that on the ends of these chromosomes there are caps called telomeres that help to keep the integrity of the chromosomes when dividing. They are compared to the plastic caps on the end of shoe laces that keep them from unravelling.
They also discovered the enzyme telomerase that helps to build the telomeres. The longer that the telomeres are, the longer the person has to live. They can measure this and how much telomerase is in someone's body. Also longer telomeres correlate with less disease. See the video below by an 81 year old woman who meditates and takes no medications. Of course as people age, the telomeres become shorter.
There was a study done with 239 healthy women and they found that the ones that were better at mindfulness meditation (by having less random thoughts) had significantly longer telomeres. The above comes from this article called Can Meditation Really Slow Ageing.
This article also encourages more women to get into science. Since 1901 549 people have won Nobel prizes and only 16 of them have been women. That is less than 3%. The studies talked about in the above article are done by a team that is led by Elizabeth Blackburn PhD that won the above Nobel prize. She has gotten many awards and she was on the 2007 Time Magazine list (before winning the Nobel prize) of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Here are some quotes from the above article:
“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older,” [biologist Hans] Selye said.
“I was interested in the idea that if we look deep within cells we might be able to measure the wear and tear of stress and daily life,” she says [Elissa Epel M.D. (psychiatrist) now director of the Aging, Metabolism and Emotion Center at UCSF].
“I was interested in the idea that if we look deep within cells we might be able to measure the wear and tear of stress and daily life,” she says. After reading about Blackburn’s work on ageing, she wondered if telomeres might fit the bill.
Theories differ as to how meditation might boost telomeres and telomerase, but most likely it reduces stress
This is how Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn started working together on the research about meditation slowing down aging. They did research on mothers that had chronically ill children. Blackburn’s team measured the levels of telomerase and scientists at the University of Utah measured the telomere length.
It took 4 years to do this research on 58 women. The results showed that the more stressed out the mothers claimed to be, the shorter their telomeres and the lower their levels of telomerase. Yoga and meditation are great for stress. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, studies how meditation is able to change the structure of the brain. She is also talked about in the above article.
Many celebrities do meditation and yoga. I have an article called 23 Celebrities That Do Yoga. These are all very famous celebrities that everyone has heard of. I also have an article called 29 Celebrities That Do Meditation. This list includes Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz. Note that Dr.Oz does yoga and has his patients do yoga.
Maybe it would be good to teach to children that The Beatles used to be heavy drug users. Then they were taught Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and they did that instead of drugs. The 2 that are still alive still do this meditation. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed in 2009 at Radio City Music Hall in New York to raise money to bring this stress-busting method of meditation to 1 million disadvantaged school children around the world.
This article (see quote above) says that all stress leaves an indelible scar. Indelible means that which cannot be removed, washed away, or erased. Although in psychology they try to do this. Meditation (or at least the one that I do) can remove all the effects of these scars so they are not really scars at all. Also it can help people so they feel less stress in the future.
I like what Dr. Wayne Dyer says about stress. He says:
While living in a competitive and unfair world peaceful people have the underlying thought that there’s no such thing as stress; there are only people thinking stressful thoughts.
It’s really as simple as that. When you change the way you process the world, the world you’re processing changes.
The woman in the video below is 81 years old, does meditation and she does not take any medications. Medications (drugs) are very bad for health even though they treat the symptoms of a disease. There are some doctors like Mark Hyman M.D. who practice functional medicine. That is a medicine where they treat the cause of the disease instead of the symptoms of the disease.
The video below this has Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern talking about the importance of meditation in their lives. Seinfeld talks about how he would not have stopped doing his show if he knew the importance of morning TM (Transcendental Meditation). What he is referring to is that TM is supposed to be done 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. So at that time he was skipping the morning meditation.
The video under this one tells 35 benefits of doing meditation for the mind. The video below this has 35 benefits of meditation for the body. One benefit that it lists is stronger immune system and getting less colds and flu. A friend that does the same meditation that I do has not had a cold or flu in the last 10 years. That is also the same with me but both of us also eat a healthy plant-based diet.
Here is an article that talks about meditation and what Eckhart Tolle teaches, that is called Is the Key to Happiness Being in the Present Moment. It also tells more about the meditation that I do that I feel is much better than TM.