After several years of number-crunching, data from the so-called Shamatha project is finally starting to be published. So far the research has shown some not hugely surprising psychological and cognitive changes — improvements in perception and wellbeing, for example. But one result in particular has potentially stunning implications: that by protecting caps called telomeres on the ends of our chromosomes, meditation might help to delay the process of ageing.
The Shamatha project used a mix of mindfulness and compassion meditation. The researchers concluded that the meditation affected telomerase by changing the participants’ psychological state, which they assessed using questionnaires. Three factors in particular predicted higher telomerase activity at the end of the retreat: increased sense of control (over circumstances or daily life); increased sense of purpose in life; and lower neuroticism (being tense, moody and anxious). The more these improved, the greater the effect on the meditators’ telomerase.
There’s been several studies over the years have reported on the the anti-aging effects. From Natural News:
Dr. Robert Keith Wallace was one of the first scientists to study the effects of meditation on aging and he published his findings in the International Journal of Neuroscience (16: 53 58, 1982). His research was based on the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Dr. Wallace found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age. That means a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old.
Several of the subjects in the study were found to have a biological age 27 years younger than their chronological age. This study has since been replicated several times. Other studies have also shown the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation on the aging process. …
via Study: Meditation Wards Of The Effects of Aging | The Shaman’s Well.