Meditation And Aging – Is There A Real Connection?


Olga kotelkoOlga Kotelko from Vancouver, Canada is an athlete.

Till date, she holds 26 world records to her name and has won 750 odd gold medals. She is still running fit and fine.

Just like other athletes. Nothing new, right?!

Wait till I tell you her age – N-I-N-E-T-Y F-O-U-R!!

You didn’t read it wrong, neither did I spell it wrong, it’s 94. Really!

What keeps Olga going? Anti-ageing creams? Injections? Pills? Exercise?!!

Absolutely not.

Her secret is a positive frame of mind. Meditation, to be precise. You would be surprised to know that she wakes up at 2 am to meditate daily at that time.

With time, meditation has become an inseparable part of her lifestyle that keeps her inner fire burning and keep ageing away.

Do not consider Olga as one of those exceptional cases; connection between meditation and aging has been scientifically proven.

On a genetic level – Telomeres

Telomeres are protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. These telomeres shorten with every cell division, hence, their length is used to tell the longevity or age of a living being.

A 5-year long research conducted by University of California, San Francisco, showed that when subjects introduced meditation in their lifestyle, their telomeres lengthened by a good 10% as opposed to those who didn’t practice meditation. Their telomere length rather got decreased by 3%.[1]

This can be attributed to the decrease in ruminative thought, meditation’s ability to reduce stress arousal and increase states of positive arousal. Meditation has also been proven to affect neural mechanisms which can effectively influence age related physiological variables.[2]

On a gross level – Stress

Many a times we notice that days on which we are stressed and tensed, we look tired right from the beginning of the day and feel absolutely dull and lifeless throughout. Stress does affect us physically and leads to faster ageing over a period of time.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a group meditation training program can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety, panic and stress and can help maintain these reductions.[3]

Regular practice of meditation calms us down on the inside and reduces stress levels to a great extent, thus slowing down the process of ageing in the long run.

On hormonal level – DHEA

Do you know there is a hormone that can slow down ageing? It’s name is DHEA, Dehydroepiandrosterone.

With the advancement of age, the production of DHEA in the body falls and thus ageing starts to show its effects.

Many people take DHEA supplements to make up for the decreased levels, but that has its own side effects and risks. In women, it may lead to abnormal periods and mood swings and in men to high B.P. and more breast tissue. All in all, it is not a good idea to go for an artificial enhancement of DHEA in the body.

In such a case, the most natural way to increase DHEA level in the body is by practicing meditation. It is scientifically proven too.[4]

candle meditationAlso, meditation not only slows down ageing but also lowers the heart rate, metabolic rate and strengthens the immune system. It improves the quality of sleep as well as the quality of our life.

As a result, we become a healthier, calmer and a more composed individual.

So, it makes hardly any sense to spend on expensive injections and exorbitant chemical based beauty treatments to reverse the effect of ageing, which is a purely natural process.

The best way to control this natural process is by taking the support of another natural process which is meditation. Let the transformation begin and get ready to welcome the beautiful change!

Check out Phyllis Sues interview, our 95 year old yogini, who is still as young as anyone could ever be!

References:

[1] Epel E, Daubenmier J, Moskowitz JT, Folkman S, & Blackburn E (2009). Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172, 34-53 PMID: 19735238. ^Back to Top^

[2] Wallace RK, Dillbeck M, Jacobe E, & Harrington B (1982). The effects of the transcendental meditation and TM-Sidhi program on the aging process. The International journal of neuroscience, 16 (1), 53-8 PMID: 6763007. ^Back to Top^

[3] Kabat-Zinn J, Massion AO, Kristeller J, Peterson LG, Fletcher KE, Pbert L, Lenderking WR, & Santorelli SF (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The American journal of psychiatry, 149 (7), 936-43 PMID: 1609875. ^Back to Top^

[4] Shealy, C. (1995). A review of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, 30 (4), 308-313 DOI: 10.1007/BF02691603. ^Back to Top^

[5] Dhar, H. L. "Meditation therapy in cardiovascular & metabolic disorders special reference to coronary artery disease & diabetes." Bombay hospital journal 51.4 (2009): 473 (pdf).

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