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Meditation: Scientists Find Life Enhancing Benefits
Photo Credit: Free Great Picture

What if someone whispers she knows how to make your brain function younger longer? What if she also says, doing what she tells you to, you can even live longer? Will you be interested?

Possibly. Probably. But it will be a guarded interest. There will be some level of skepticism. Somewhere twirling in your aging brain is a thought, “this is a scam.” Okay, there is nothing wrong with you.
We are wired to surrender to the inevitable. Why waste valuable energy fighting the certain? Like taxes and death, according to Ben Franklin. You are none wiser than your aging brain. Your aging brain is the most focused disciplinarian when it is about being energy efficient. That is the reason about 40% of the things you do daily are mindlessly executed, like brushing your teeth, buttoning your shirt or even driving your car through familiar streets. Accept the things you cannot change and move forward. Don’t even think too much about it.

Aging, like decay is a function of time. You can’t stop time. You can’t stop aging. “What if I can teach you how to slow down aging for free?” she whispers insistently. Suddenly, it becomes clear in your aging brain, “I am sure this is a scam!”
Across the world, about 60 billion US dollars are expected to be dispensed in the market for anti-aging products in 2020. The market is expected to grow by a compound rate of 5% to 6% per year. Surely, slowing down aging cannot be as affordable as free? Not mentioning adding years to your life. How is it free?

It is free and simple but it is not easy. It is about as difficult as keeping your new year’s resolutions, which 88% of the people who fail. It takes the discipline displayed by 12% of the folks who make resolutions before the first of January every year.

Elizabeth Blackburn, a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Elissa Epel, Sara Lazar and a host of other scientists have discovered a simple, drug-free and chemical-free way to delay the aging of your brain for free! This breakthrough is backed by evidence from the results of their research with humans. People; like you and me.

Sara Lazar, PhD is a researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She researches on the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation. Sara is not just a theorist in this domain, she is a practitioner. She has been doing yoga and mindfulness meditation for more than two decades.
Photo Credit: Free Great Picture

Sara and her colleagues discovered that as you age physically, your brain do not have to age in sync. You can maintain a youthful brain through regular meditation. In her research with her subjects, spanning over nine years, it was found that those who maintained a six-hour weekly meditation schedule could reverse the thinning of their brain structures such as with the pre-frontal cortex, where we make decisions and control other executive functions. This preserves the quality of our brain function despite aging.

Elizabeth Blackburn is an expert on telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. She is co-author with Elissa Epel of ‘The Telomere Effect.”
With her team at the University of California, Blackburn discovered that meditation helps to protect telomeres from shortening. Telomeres are caps on human chromosomes. Shortening of the telomeres will lead to the malfunctioning of our cells, disabling them to replenish.

This is part of what she said in an interview with the Guardian, a new daily in the U.K.; “…when telomeres can’t protect chromosomes properly, cells can’t replenish and they malfunction. This sets up physiological changes in the body which increases the risks of major conditions and diseases of ageing: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, a weakened immune system and more. But the process is somewhat malleable. It is happening in all of us at some rate, but the rate can change. An enzyme called telomerase can add DNA to the ends of chromosomes to slow, prevent and partially reverse the shortening.”

Together with Elissa Epel, the co-author of the book and a colleague at the University of California, Blackburn found that stress can shorten telomeres and reduce the production of telomerase, an enzyme which protects the tips of chromosomes. This was research done with 58 women who were in high stressed situations. It was found that high stress and the decay of the telomeres could add a decade of aging!

Studies have found that the integrity of telomeres predict future health. One study showed elderly men whose telomeres shortened over two and half years were three times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease in the nine years. Other studies found that shortened telomere is linked to a host of other diseases including diabetes, as Elizabeth Blackburn and her colleagues have found. That meditation can protect telomeres, and as such slow down the aging of the brain, enhance health and boost longevity is expressed in this key sentence from the research report, “Thus, meditation practices may promote mitotic cell longevity both through decreasing stress hormones and oxidative stress and increasing hormones that may protect the telomere.”

Photo Credit: Free Great Picture

What if there is another whisper, “mindfulness meditation is more effective than drugs in preventing recurrent depression, slows progression of HIV and enables you to sleep better?”  There is a chance you will say, “Get out of here.” Or, “who says so?”

Willem Kuyken, head of the Moods Disorders Center, Exeter University says mindfulness meditation has the edge over drugs in preventing relapse of recurrent depression. David Creswell of Carnegie Mellon University found that meditation slows HIV progression. Meditation is also found to induce the production of Melatonin, a beneficial hormone that retards damage to cells, slows aging and energizes the immune system. A widely known benefit of Melatonin is that it induces recuperative sleep, reducing stress which is a main cause of many diseases and which accelerates aging.

These are incredible discoveries about the quiet power of meditation. Because of its wide ranging life impact, it is natural if you think it must take great effort and a highly complex process to do it right/

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Lazar, who has been meditating for more than 20 years, says it is as simple as paying attention to your breath. Just be mindful of the inhale and exhale process, and think of nothing else. Obviously, you have to be in a place devoid of a lot of traffic and distractions. The key thing is not to set any expectation. Allow yourself to ease into the practice. If in the process, you are distracted, recognize that you are distracted and restart. There is no limit to your attempts to do it right.

And, it is the best bargain you’ll find. Just twenty minutes a day is good enough to set you on the track to slow your brain from aging, protect yourself from a host of stress induced diseases and be rewarded with a longer life. How much does it cost for a comprehensive health package with all these protections? How much does it cost you, now that you know? Twenty minutes a day of relaxation!

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