Can meditation really slow down the ageing process? Researchers are saying YES after studying the effects of intensive meditation at the Shambhala Meditation Centre in Colorado. A recent study¹ found that participants, who had practiced mindfulness meditation for about 6 hours per day over a three month period, showed less cell tissue damage compared a control group of people who had not had the same intensive meditation experience. Researchers are concluding that the practice of mindfulness meditation can protect and re-build chromosomes found inside our cells by increasing the amount of telemerase (an enzyme) that is available. This serves to keep chromosomes, and the cells that house them, stronger and living longer. One of the researchers, Clifford Saron, argues that the psychological changes created by mindfulness – increased sense of control and purpose in life – are more important than the meditation itself. He says that the news from this research is profound because it can give “the opportunity to live your life in a way that you find meaningful.”² So, by doing something that gives us a sense of purpose, whether it’s meditating or cooking, we are giving our cells and bodies what they need to help us live longer.
1. Jacobs, T. L., et al. 2011. Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 664-681.
2. How meditation might ward off the effects of ageing. The Observer, April 24, 2011.http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/24/meditation-ageing-shamatha-project