Meditation And Aging
What happens in the body that causes aging? Scientists have discovered a fundamental process of aging in our cells that occurs on the strands of our DNA. This discovery won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009. This discovery is important to everyday life because we now know the speed of aging can move faster or slower and we have some control over the process. Aging can be seen to literally speed-up from stress and slowdown from meditation.
We have known for decades that meditation improved health by reducing stress, anxiety, improving cardiovascular function.
Even beginning meditators report they feel calmer, happier, sleep better and have more energy. These benefits should be enough to encourage everyone to meditate as the cost and time involved is minimal compared to the rewards. New research shows that the benefits of meditation are far greater than previously thought as it produces changes at the deepest level of our brain, cells, and DNA. In addition to living healthier and happier from meditation, the deeper changes could bring dramatic improvements in longevity and cognitive function in old age. Meditation also helps us stay healthier throughout life, not just live longer. Our cells are always aging and the faster they age the more susceptible we become to disease, so the benefit of slowing the aging.
The physical release of stress hormones is the same whether the trigger is from a real event or an imagined one.
A stress response is triggered by an overwhelming experience or perceived threat. If you need to run away from danger a stress response will help you run faster and farther, but at a cost. A stress response is also triggered by simply thinking of something that worries or disturbs us.
Scientists found that aging can be measured by the length of a protective cap on the ends of our chromosomes called “telomeres” and by the presence of “telomerase,” an enzyme that protects the telomeres from the wear and tear of cellular division. In 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomeres. The length of telomeres indicates the remaining lifespan of a cell, the amount that a cell can continue to divide and replicate normally. Telomeres naturally become shorter with age, but research shows this aging process doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone.