If inner peace, a calm mind and the idea of becoming an enlightened being aren’t incentive enough for you to meditate, how about this: meditation has been scientifically proven to slow down the aging process.
No needles, scalpels or pills required.
We’ve known for many years that meditation has a profound effect on our state of mind, but scientists have only just begun to understand exactly how meditation slows aging on a cellular level.
If you meditate often enough, you will secrete more of the youth hormone DHEA, which has proven anti-aging benefits. You will also have lower blood pressure and less of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol is associated with overeating, and a high cortisol level can cause people to store fat around the belly. So meditation not only helps you look younger, it also helps to prevent stress-related weight gain.
One of the most interesting studies on the anti-aging benefits of meditation was the Shamatha Project, undertaken in Colorado in 2007. This study showed that meditation can delay the aging process by protecting caps called ‘telomeres’ on the end of our chromosomes.
Telomeres act like a clock, limiting the life span of our body’s cells. Each time a cell divides, its telomeres are shortened, unless an enzyme called telomerase regenerates them. Having shorter telomeres places people at greater risk of degenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and they also die younger.
The researchers from the Shamatha project studied a group of meditators a the Shambhala Mountain Centre in Colorado, and found they had significantly higher telomerase activity at the end of an intensive 3-month mediation retreat, compared to the control group.
This study has led researchers to develop the theory that meditation could slow, or even reverse, the aging process.
Meditation cushion anyone?