Sally Writes – If you’re feeling low in energy recently, you’re not the only one. 76% of Americans report feeling tired many days of the week and 42% believe their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years. We are overworked and overstressed. This has had a profound effect on both mental and physical wellbeing. Fortunately, we already know that meditation can improve cellular health, but new research from Coventry University has gone even further. Stress leads to molecular reactions in our DNA, which has been shown to cause ill health and depression. Meditation won’t only make us feel better, but will reverse damage within our DNA.
Effect of Stress on DNA
Published in Frontiers In Immunology Journal, researchers at Coventry University noted how stressful events affect the nervous system. We have an evolutionary fight or flight impulse when faced with stressful tasks and this increases production of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which affects genes.
This in turn releases the protein cytokines, which causes inflammation in our cells. While this would have been useful when fleeing a lion in the Stone Age, it is of little use when your boss drops a mountain of paperwork on your desk. Furthermore, if this inflammation continues over extended periods of time, this can speed up the aging process, increase the risk of cancer developing and lead to psychological disorders such as depression.
Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression, according to a study by the universities of Coventry and Radboud.
How Meditation Can Help
By engaging in so-called “mind-body interventions” (MBIs), such as meditation and yoga, we can alter our bodies at a molecular level. Meditation allows us to focus solely on the breathing, while clearing our minds of stress-related thoughts.
Sharing is caring. “If you truly want to change your life you must first change your mind.” If you’ve been following this blog, you know that there are countless ways to apply mindfulness in your everyday life. You have probably also noticed that there are tons of benefits of practicing mindfulness regularly.
As a result, our bodies can relax by acting as if there are no stressful events that we must deal with. This then limits the production of NF-kB and stops the body’s natural impulse to increase inflammation of the cells. Some inflammation is good because it increases our immune system in preparation for healing wounds. However, meditation ensures that we limit inflammation so that it doesn’t become harmful.
This reversal of DNA reactions has some hugely beneficial uses. For example, it will help us deal with loss and grief, so that we do not become angry and depressed. By practicing meditation, we are able to quickly reach a stage of acceptance over the loss of a loved one.
We know already that meditation can help us find transcendent states and inner peace. However, it is not just the soul that requires mindful contemplation. It can also reverse the damage we have done to our DNA on a molecular level and scientists will continue to find out exactly why and how this happens.