Have you been on the fence about giving meditation a try? Well, a new study by UCLA scientists could very well convince you to pull out your yoga mat and start meditating today.
Several studies have shown how meditation can improve the body’s ability to deal with stress and fight disease, but a study published in the July issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology has shed some light on how this happens on a biological level
The study was done with Alzheimer-patient caregivers, who were divided into two groups: one group practiced a 12-minute daily form of a yogic chanting meditation called Kirtan Kriya for eight weeks while the other group sat in a quiet room with their eyes closed and listened to 12 minutes of relaxing instrumental music daily for eight weeks.
By taking blood samples of the caregivers before and after the study, researchers discovered that 68 of the meditation group’s genes actually responded differently, resulting in less inflammation. They also noticed a reduction in the proteins responsible for increased inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation, well understood by the medical community to lead to a multitude of health problems, is definitely something you want to keep in check!
I can personally attest to the benefits of meditation first-hand, since I did it twice a day for several months. Although I practiced a different form of meditation than what was done in the study, I noticed a visible difference in my stress levels and my overall sense of wellbeing. I was able to handle more throughout the day and had a feeling of even energy that I hadn’t experienced before. Also, I didn’t get sick, but managed to surpass many of the illnesses my kids brought home with them.
So, why not give meditation a try? Yoga Journal has an on-line step-by-step tutorial showing how to do a “Cross-Heart Kirtan Kriya Meditation” that is very easy. Also, there is a helpful video on You Tube about how to do a Kirtan Kriya meditation that gives lots of details. Plus, the Chopra Center is currently doing a free on-line “21-day Meditation Challenge Program” that you can sign up for. If you can’t register for this one, they usually have another one in the fall. Finally, Transcendental Meditation, which is also called TM, is another great form of meditation to try with several proven health benefits. To see if there’s a free local class in your area, check out the the TM website.
© Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2012