People who meditate regularly have known, for thousands of years, how it impacts their experience of life. And psychology researchers have finally caught up with the news. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you won’t want to miss this.
I often get asked by people for ‘proof’ that regular meditation can change their lives.
Sure, we all know that it sounds like a good idea, but some of us need evidence, before we’ll dive in and make changes to our lives. So here it is.
A new study has revealed that people who meditate regularly experience changes in gene expression that are the exact opposite of what occurs during the “flight or fight” stress response.
In other words, on a physical level, meditation causes your body to:
- shift your metabolism from stress to relaxation
- shift mitochondrial function (your cells’ ‘power plants’) to trigger healthier cell processes
- normalise insulin secretion
- reduce inflammation
- maintain its healthy DNA structure
Researchers led by Herbert Benson, Professor of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that these effects are more significant and consistent for long-term practitioners.
They also note the crucial difference in effects between ‘relaxation’ and ‘meditation’.
Many have confused meditation with ‘relaxation’. However, regular practitioners (and students of my 28 Day Meditation Challenge course and meditation & mindfulness workshops) know that there are three keys to meditation:
- then concentration
- then meditation
Most meditation classes and CDs don’t take you beyond the relaxation stage. Although relaxation is important, this means that many people are missing out on the benefits of ‘real’ meditation.
“People who practice even simple meditation aren’t ‘just relaxing’,” explained the study’s senior author, Dr. Herbert Benson. “Instead, they’re experiencing a specific genomic response that counteracts the harmful genomic effects of stress.”
“It has been shown that repeating a yoga pose, prayer, or mantra while disregarding other thoughts protects against anxiety and depression as well as physical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and types of cancer that are exacerbated by stress.”
During this study, the researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 26 subjects, who had no previous meditation experience, were taught meditative breathing techniques, meditation mantras and how to accept and release intrusive thoughts.
The findings proved that you don’t have to meditate for hours every day (one of the most common meditation myths) to reap the benefits.
The research study’s findings showed that the effects of become stronger with consistent practice, typically once or twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes.
“Do it for years,” said Benson, “and then these effects are quite powerful in how they change your gene activity.”
Surely life-long health and happiness benefits are worth ten minutes a day of your time?
If you’d like to discover how ten minutes a day could change your life – and how easy it can be to create an enjoyable meditation practice, you might want to check out 28 Day Meditation Challenge.
Thousands of students so far have found it makes the vital difference between a ‘nice idea’ and a life-changing, regular meditation habit. And you get to choose how much to donate, to take part – plus it comes with a “Love it or leave it!” guarantee – so you’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Want to get started today?
And if you’re not up for a full-blown meditation course yet, how about discovering how mindfulness could help you, one minute at a time?
52 Mindful Moments.
I’d love to hear your views on this topic.
Have you tried meditation before?
How did you find it?
What were the great bits? And the challenges?
Do you have any questions or advice you’d like to share?
Please feel free, via the comments box.