It is rather unbelievable that one could sit in meditation and start to do some sort of genetic engineering. It looks like we might be capable of doing that to some extent. Recent studies have indicated that meditation practice, a technique of turning inward to develop a non-judgmental self-observation, might be able to initiate epigenetic (gene expression triggered by external factors) changes in the DNA. A study published in the journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology says that just one day of intensive mindfulness meditation could kick-start genes believed to be involved in the regulation of inflammatory response and histones. These two types of genes are involved in the recovery process after exposure to stress. This research pointed to the potential benefits of mindfulness practice in chronic inflammatory conditions.
Similar results came from another study published in Cancer journal this year where participants were tested for their telomere length after meditation practice. It came out that mindfulness-based cancer recovery intervention was able to maintain the length of telomere among distressed breast cancer patients while other group going through usual care registered decreased length of telomeres.
The length of telomere is indicated to be associated with cancer prognosis.
Few other studies have also shown the same promise of meditative practices initiating protective epigenetic changes among the practitioners. Even the first time when you engage in meditation practice, your genomic expression is triggered, says Herbert Benson, professor emeritus, Benson Henry Institute of Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard. Every subsequent sitting tends to concretize this expression.
If you are a practitioner or a novice beginner, there are numerous merits of learning or keeping up your practice. Every time you sit or engage in mindfulness, you are tinkering with the deepest part of your brain and DNA. It sounds unbelievable but scientific studies are beginning to point towards that possibility.
If you are interested in learning about mindfulness or hone up your skills, please join me in Intro to Mindfulness Practice course starting on Jan 15, 2016. There are few spots available at this time. More information about registration and course is here.