Cellular and Genetic Changes from Meditation, and Why that Matters for Keeping your Liver (and you!) Happy.
I promised in my last post on the Wood element that I would write on the cellular affects of meditation, and why it is such an important practice for all of us to be doing.
Especially as we begin to head into wood element season — the element notorious for, shall we say, being a little temperamental – it’s even more important that we have some tools to counteract the heightened stress that may happen in our body.
The temperamental Liver
As I explained last week in my article, the Wood element is associated with the liver.
If you’re my patient and you’ve got any sort of liver imbalance, then based on our conversations and your experience, you know how it can reap a lot of havoc in your life and body when your liver gets out of balance and starts running the show.
Spring is the season associated with both the Wood element and the liver, so let’s begin our balancing practices now, so that when liver season hits full force, we’ll be more prepared, and able to express all the wonderful and powerful aspects of the Wood energy in our lives, without so much of the negative.
Studies show cellular and genetic changes that actually decrease stress and make us happier
One thing that happens when we get stressed out, is that different genes get up-regulated or down-regulated.
We want the ones that affect stress hormones to be down-regulated, and the ones that affect calm and relaxation up-regulated.
They found that meditation techniques like deep breathing, repetition of a mantra (this just means a word or phrase: for example, a Christian might say “Jesus looks over and protects me in every moment”, or we could all say “I am Love”), and prayer; caused 2209 genes to be expressed differently, when comparing long-term meditators and a control group. 1275 were up-regulated while 934 were down-regulated.
That’s a whole lot of change in genetic activity!
What this means is that we’re not just given the cards we’re dealt with through our genes…our own choices and actions greatly affect that!
Meditation Can Slow Down the Aging Process
For you ladies who still aren’t inspired, the following info may give you another reason to start a meditation practice: they found that the genes affected related to oxidative stress, which is a natural result of emotional tension.
Oxidative stress is also what causes faster aging of cells.
So, to say that meditation can help us stay younger looking is not a far-fetched statement at all. Think of how quickly people look much older in a short period of time when they’re under a lot of stress.
The last study result I wanted to share is this. Turns out we all have these things called telomeres on the ends of our DNA. They’ve found that the telomeres act as something like a bumper or buffer, shielding our body from DNA damage, which is what leads to aging from things like free radicals.
The longer our telomeres, the more protection our DNA has.
It also turns out that the longer our telomeres, the happier and more calm and relaxed we are—and also the more mental and emotional stress we’re under, the shorter our telomeres become.
So here’s the kicker…
They found that meditation actually increases the size of our telomeres. This means that not only does meditation slow the aging process of our cells, but it makes us happier and more calm!
Don’t know how to Meditate?
Do you need any more convincing to get a meditation practice going, or to pull out and dust off an old practice that you’ve led slide recently?
We’re so lucky nowadays that there’s a ton of apps, many of them free, that we can use to help us learn to meditate. There’s walking meditations, meditations to do while we cook, guided visualization meditations, etc. The options are endless.
While of course getting away for a lovely relaxing meditation retreat is still a wonderful idea, starting a practice at home is more realistic for most of us.
So I’d suggest looking on your phone for meditation apps and pick one you like and get started!
Don’t forget, acupuncture was also proven to reduce stress by up-regulating and down-regulating stress hormones!
And of course, let’s not forget acupuncture’s proven effects in improving our stress hormones. As explained in detail in this post of mine, this was discovered by watching the areas of the brain that light up in response to acupuncture points—the same areas that control stress hormone regulation. So when you’re laying on the table and wondering how, oh how can this possibly be SO RELAXING…just visualize those brain centers lighting up, and your channels opening as all your Qi starts flowing smoothly and everything gets a change to just c a l m d o w n n n n nnnnn…. :-)