Meditation can change gene expression

Specific molecular change takes place in the body after meditating, according to a new study.

Researchers studied a group of experienced meditators who had spent the day in an intensive mindful-meditative state, and compared this with a control group of untrained people who had not undertaken any meditative activities.

After eight hours, those that had practised mindfulness meditation – which encourages focusing one’s attention on the present moment – had a range of genetic and molecular differences. These included reduced or down-regulated levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which correlates with quicker physical recovery from a stressful situation.

The researchers noted that at the start of the study, there was no difference in the genes between the two groups.

Dr Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, said: “Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression.”

Dr Davidson also commented that to his knowledge, this bit of research was the first to show rapid alterations in gene expression as a result of mindfulness meditation practice.

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