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Meditation actually affects your genes!

In a major breakthrough researchers have reported how meditation impacts genes and their actions, which results in swift recovery from a stressful situation.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : September 25, 2014 4:09 PM IST

meditationIn a major breakthrough researchers have reported how meditation impacts genes and their actions, which results in swift recovery from a stressful situation. A new study by researchers in the US, Spain and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of one day intensive mindfulness practice (intensive focus) in a group of experienced meditators compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities.

After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditator showed a range of genetic and molecular differences which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation, reports the Science Daily. 'To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,' says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds and professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

'Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,' says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted.

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The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Other benefits of meditation:

Meditation makes you more liberal!

Besides conferring health benefits, meditation also fosters liberal attitudes immediately after a session, say Canadian researchers. 'There's great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations,' says psychology researcher Jordan Peterson of University of Toronto. 'Inducing a spiritual experience through a guided meditation exercise led both liberals and conservatives to endorse more liberal political attitudes,' adds Peterson, a study co-author. 'While religiousness is characterised by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we're all connected,' says Jacob Hirsh of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, who led the study. Read more...

Meditation makes you smarter!

Meditation does make the brain smarter, allowing it to process information faster and improve decision making, according to the latest study. Eileen Luders, assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles Lab of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (folding of the cortex, which may allow the brain to act faster, with a host of benefits) than non-meditators. Read more...

Meditation suppresses info overload and eases pain

Mindfulness meditation helps regulate a vital brain wave called the alpha rhythm which suppresses information overload and improves memory, besides easing pain. It involves focusing your mind on the present, which is known to improve mood, decrease stress and boost immune function. The alpha rhythm is particularly active in the cells that process touch, sight and sound in the brain's outmost layer, the cortex, where it helps to turn down distracting sensations and regulate the flow of sensory information among brain regions. Read more...

Meditation Techniques

Sitting in Silence The Zen Method

The famous Japanese technique that helps empty the mind completely and create bliss. Sit in a calm spot in a comfortable position and do nothing. Close your eyes. Let all the thoughts pass by and don't cling on to any thought. Slowly, the number of thoughts will reduce and you will find silence within you. Natural scenic spots like mountains, beaches, temples and gardens (with lesser people) help you achieve this faster.

Meditating Mantra The Focus Method

Focusing on one object helps remove other thoughts. Chanting 'OM', or the name of your favourite God, using chanting beads and concentrating on the chant will create an image as well as a feeling of relief (if you are too stressed) or energized. Try to sit in a comfortable place and chant out aloud. You can also focus on your breathing to achieve the same effect. Multitasking and having several distractions might defeat the purpose of this technique.

Sense of Sight The Visualization Method

Imagining natural and tranquil scenery of your choice (not people!) creates a feeling of bliss. Think of a favourite place you have visited or a pretty photograph you've seen waterfalls, oceans, mountains, flower-fields, open skies and landscapes gives a feeling of freedom. Start thinking of yourself in that scenery and imagine details in the scene colours, sound and textures.

Gang up Group Meditation Method

Satsangs, bhajans, choirs are the simplest means of group meditation. Singing out aloud or chanting together in a group not only helps increase focus but also helps in regularizing the habit of meditating. Spiritual techniques claim that the positive energy generated in group mediation is much more powerful. Alternates are holding hands in a group and saying a prayer. (Read: Meditation: A beginner's guide)

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With inputs from IANS

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