Meditation is Linked to Improved Cell Health

As I have been writing more about mindfulness, I was interested to see this new research on meditation.

University of California researchers have determined that the positive feeling you get from meditation is linked to improved cell health. Telomerase activity was measured in participants after a three-month intensive meditation retreat and found to be about one-third higher in the white blood cells of participants who had completed the retreat versus those in a matched group of controls. Telomerase is an enzyme which has the potential to promote longevity in immune cells, thus having a significant impact on our health.

What exactly does this mean?  According to researcher Clifford Saron at UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain:

The take-home message from this work is not that meditation directly increases telomerase activity and therefore a person’s health and longevity,” Saron said. “Rather, meditation may improve a person’s psychological well-being and in turn these changes are related to telomerase activity in immune cells, which has the potential to promote longevity in those cells. Activities that increase a person’s sense of well-being may have a profound effect on the most fundamental aspects of their physiology.

Theses feelings of well-being were defined as related to psychological qualities including mindfulness. This research ties in nicely with the findings I discussed recently about mindfulness being associated with happiness.

Can you imagine how useful this could be for trauma survivors? With dissociation? Or really anyone! So many of us live a fast paced, multi-tasking lifestyle that lends itself to doing things on automatic, mindlessly. This robs us of the opportunity to be fully present in  our lives.

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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4 Responses to Meditation is Linked to Improved Cell Health

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Meditation is Linked to Improved Cell Health | Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago --

  2. tp says:

    Dr Young, thank you for your consistant persistancy. You have what it takes to grow your own show. Sincerily,TP

  3. Hi. It’s me again, the ‘difficult person’ (though seriously I don’t mean to be, it’s just that I see a few things a little differently sometimes). I have dissociative issues and for me, meditation induces a dissociative state, usually of the really numb, dumb and trance-like variety (even ruins my eyesight temporarily). Again, as with the possible problems when hearing about self-care, I know there are a few others out there who have similar situations around this. Also, because of some of the dismissive and invalidating things that were said to me by a past therapist who is into meditation (he wants people to meditate away the trauma and ‘transcend’ reality), I used to get upset when I would read posts like this one. I’m proud to say that I read this and was not triggered AT ALL (yay me!). For any of my fellow dissociative folks for whom it is not safe to meditate, I would like them to know that they are not alone in that. I would also like them to know that any activity that is relaxing, enjoyable and has meaning for them also has wonderful and profound health benefits. Reading, writing, gardening, crafting, watching good-feeling movies, etc. Whatever floats the boat in the personal peace, relaxation and enjoyment department. Because I know there are some out there who have issues around meditation, I guess I just also want them to know that they can get good health benefits, too.

    Also, in case you take ‘requests’ for help topics :-), I have found that one of my biggest helpers is excellent nutrition. I have also found that a person’s entire eating life can slowly, completely and permanently change – one small choice at a time. If you want to do a post on this, let me know and I will do one at the same time and we can link each other. Of course, mine will not be from any professional standpoint. It will be the story of change and loving the self by nourishing the body with healthy food. If you have readers who struggle with anorexia as I did, perhaps they will find some hope. I have maintained a healthy weight for twenty years now. At this point, I don’t even revert to starvation or junk food when I’m in the pit of the PTSD end of things. If you are interested in this, this was me:

    • Hi Ethereal Highway-

      I am not experiencing you as “difficult”. Challenging perhaps, but in a good way. 🙂
      I think it is helpful to hear different experiences. I am sure it benefits some readers and it makes me keep thinking. Good stuff!

      I do know what you mean about meditation increasing dissociation for some. My experience with mindfulness-based meditation is that, for some, it can be a very different and in fact grounding experience with its focus on being present. I think the same thing can be accomplished with many of the pleasurable activities you mention. I have written before about this with gardening, for example.

      I truly believe that there are a variety of ways to heal and a whole host of tools to choose from. If something is not a good fit for you, you can find something else that will work well. I appreciate your comment because it highlights this point.

      I am very interested in your topic request. Let me see what I can come up with. Eating disorders, or eating issues can certainly be common among trauma survivors. I think you writing about this from the personal perspective would be really valuable.

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