Scientifically Proven Benefit of Mindfulness Training
After Only 8 Weeks
Reduces Cellular Ageing
Life can wear us down, on a cellular level.
A very interesting benefit of Mindfulness meditation is the effect it has on our bodies at a cellular level, influencing our ageing process.
At the heart of every cell in our bodies are strands of chromosomes, rather like shoelaces, which are protected by telomeres, like the protective tips at the end of our shoelaces.
With age these telomeres, or protective tips, become frayed and reduce in length due to a lack in production of an enzyme, telomerase. The shorter or more frayed these telomeres are, the more likely we are to become sick and die.
Elizabeth Blackmore won the Nobel Prize in 2009 for this discovery and says "This has implications for our risk of major conditions and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and immune system depletion".
Could this mean that Mindfulness meditation can increase our lifespans? Well, maybe, or maybe not, but a healthy old age is certainly something to cherish.
Increase production of this enzyme
Jacobs T. L., Epel E. S., Lin J., Blackburn E. H., Wolkowitz O. M., Bridwell D. A., et al. 2011
In an intensive 3 month meditation retreat, meditating 6 hours a day compared with a wait-list control group the conclusions were:
Telomerase activity was significantly greater in retreat participants than in controls at the end of the retreat. (As well as increases in Perceived Control and Purpose in Life). Note: This is longer than 8 weeks of meditation but included here as particularly relevant.
Schutte N. S., Malouff J. M. 2014
Four pioneering randomized control trials, including a total of 190 participants, provided information on the effect of mindfulness meditation on telomerase. This meta-analysis indicated that mindfulness meditation leads to increased telomerase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Note: An important aspect of biological aging is aging at the cellular level. A marker of cellular aging is telomere length. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that cap the chromosomal DNA ends, protecting chromosomes from damage. Telomeres shorten with repeated cell divisions, usually associated with aging. A reduction in this shortening positively correlates with a reduction in biological aging. Telomere length is often measured in leukocytes or peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for maintenance of the length of telomeres and counteracts telomere shortening.