Can Mindfulness Meditation Change Your Genes?
Researchers have long documented mindfulness meditation can:
- Reduce your stress levels
- Assist in treating depression and anxiety
- Help you stay healthy in a myriad of ways
But is it possible meditation can also help the next generation as well?
Frontiers in Immunology recently published a study that found meditation doesn’t just have benefits for you – it may have benefits for the generations to come – as it affects your current mood, as well as your genes.
Reversing Stress-Related Changes Genes
In fact, meditation can actually reverse the stress-related changes in genes that are linked to depression and poor health, essentially counteracting the molecular damage caused by stress.
So how does meditation affect our DNA? It all boils down to the genes associated with inflammation.
The study, which actually used a total of 18 previously published studies, looked at the biological effects of meditation, yoga and breathing exercises on a total of 846 people.
After reviewing the studies, the current researchers found meditation and these other mind and body exercises appeared to suppress the genetic pathways and genes that promote inflammation.
In other words, genes that were associated with inflammation were less active in people who practiced meditation.
And though the “inflammation” genes may seem like small potatoes, they actually have a lot of impact on our bodies.
Inflammation is often our natural first line of defense when it comes to injury and infection. This is why a bad cut or wound will swell in the first few days – our bodies are trying to provide us with a boost to our immune system to help us heal.
But this “boost” can actually cause damage is it’s being used as a long-term solution. Inflammation has long been thought to be a culprit in turning physical stress to psychological stress, like depression or anxiety. It can also increase a person’s tendency to contract various diseases.
As a result, chronic inflammation is often associated with a long list of medical conditions including psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions such as asthma and arthritis and even certain types of cancer.
Changing our DNA
But these mind-body exercises, like mindfulness meditation, actually reduce the risk for inflammation-related disorders, and by changing our DNA, this trait may be passed on for generations to come.
Granted, numerous scientists have attested that we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to meditation and our DNA and genetic make-up.
This most recent study made international headlines simply because it tackled such a new topic, and showed some pretty promising results.
But considering the wave of interest that has been steadily growing in the benefits of mindfulness meditation, this new study on how meditation affects our genes likely won’t be the last by a long shot.
So use meditation for your own reasons – and for your own health and reduction of inflammation – to feel better on an everyday basis.
Chances are that by bettering yourself and your body through mindfulness meditation, you’re also helping out your family line for decades to come.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.