Deepak Chopra: Meditation Helps Slow Down Aging

Dr. Deepak Chopra briefly explains one of the health benefits of meditation in slowing down the aging process. He cites the work of Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a cell biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her co-discovery of an enzyme called the telomerase. This enzyme influences the length of telomeres, which are structures at the end of chromosomes that protect the chromosome.


In recent years, Dr. Blackburn and her colleagues have been investigating the effect of stress on telomerase and telomeres. with particular emphasis on mindfulness meditation. Dr. Blackburn found that among people who meditate after 4 to 6 months, the telomerase activity goes up by 30%, which influences the biological clock directly, or indirectly–perhaps due to the fact that they feel psychologically better.

Other physiological benefits of meditation mentioned by Dr. Chopra:

  • lowers the metabolic rate
  • lowers the heart rate
  • improves the immune function
  • improves the quality of sleep
  • basically lowers everything associated with stress.

More on telomerase and telomeres from an article co-authored by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Can Meditation Slow Rate of Cellular Aging? Cognitive Stress, Mindfulness, and Telomeres:

Understanding the malleable determinants of cellular aging is critical to understanding human longevity. Telomeres may provide a pathway for exploring this question. Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. The length of telomeres offers insight into mitotic cell and possibly organismal longevity. Telomere length has now been linked to chronic stress exposure and depression.

This raises the question of mechanism: How might cellular aging be modulated by psychological functioning? We consider two psychological processes or states that are in opposition to one another-threat cognition and mindfulness-and their effects on cellular aging.

Psychological stress cognitions, particularly appraisals of threat and ruminative thoughts, can lead to prolonged states of reactivity. In contrast, mindfulness meditation techniques appear to shift cognitive appraisals from threat to challenge, decrease ruminative thought, and reduce stress arousal. Mindfulness may also directly increase positive arousal states.

We review data linking telomere length to cognitive stress and stress arousal and present new data linking cognitive appraisal to telomere length. Given the pattern of associations revealed so far, we propose that some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance. Aspects of this model are currently being tested in ongoing trials of mindfulness meditation.

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TEDxConejo - Mark Robert Waldman - 03/27/10

Mark  Robert Waldman  is a therapist and an Associate Fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, Universi ty of Pennsylvania,  where he currently conducts research with Andrew Newberg, MD, on the neurological correlates of beliefs, morality, compassion,  meditation, religious
experiences, and spiritual practices. He is adjunct faculty at
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, where he is developing communication tools for the Executive MBA program.
He lectures frequently at conferences, colleges, and churches  on  topics relating to the  neuropsychology of stress, relaxation, emotional control,  relationship dynamics,
conflict resolution, mediation, communication,  weight management, and the neurobiological development  of personal values  and business ethics (neuroeconomics). His research  has been featured in Time Magazine,
Washington Post, Oprah Magazine and Radio, USA Today, The New York Times science section, and his  interviews have appeared on  dozens of radio and
television programs, including Oprah and Friends.  
Mark is the author of eleven books and anthologies, and his professional papers have been published throughout the world. He was the founding editor of the academic journal,  Transpersonal Review,  chairman of the Los Angeles
Transpersonal Interest Group, regional coordinator for the Spiritual Emergence Network, and he holds a ministerial credential in pastoral counseling.   He coauthors a monthly column on "Science and Spirituality" for Science of Mind magazine.  
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Comments

[…] Dr. Deepak Chopra briefly explains one of the health benefits of meditation in slowing down the aging process. He cites the work of Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a cell biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her co-discovery of an enzyme called the telomerase. This enzyme influences the length of telomeres, which are structures at the end of chromosomes that protect the chromosome.  […]

[…] Meditation is producing promising results for slowing down the ageing process. […]

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