Meditation benefits shock the scientific community
(NaturalHealth365) Anyone interested in meditation has most likely come across accounts of meditators claiming amazing longevity. Science has been studying allegations of radical life extension for some time now, and it has become apparent that there’s a connection between meditation and longevity. Since the 1950s, there have been more than 3,000 scientific studies on the benefits of meditation for the physical body and brain.
Just before writing this article, I became interested in an account of an allegedly 250-year-old yogi. His name was Devraha Baba and he lived on a 12-foot-high platform beside the Yamuna River in Mathura, India. High officials of the Indian government, including India’s first president, Dr. Rajendra Prashad, vouched for the accuracy of his claim. This isn’t an exception or solo case: online, you’ll be able to find numerous accounts and claims of extreme longevity by meditation masters, some true and some fabricated.
The secret to living a long, healthy life
So what do we really know? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.” While we may not aspire to the aforementioned yogi’s lifestyle, most of us would enjoy adding a few more healthy years to our lives along with greater mental clarity.
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.
How to cut your biological age in half
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. (look up: www.tmprogram.com.au/book/chap_3c.html)
My wife and I, according to laboratory blood tests that analyzed our telomeres (a new scientific way to discover the age of the biological body), were both found to be less than half our chronological ages. This was a very encouraging statement after many decades of meditation. This can also be your story.
Mediation has surprising health benefits
It certainly goes without saying that if meditation can help you remain disease-free or even just stack the odds in your favor, it would be something to investigate further. Actually, it appears that the more you meditate, the greater the benefits accrued. As an example, how about increasing circulation by reducing the constricting effects of stress? Meditation starts increasing circulation by as much as 30 percent. After you’ve become more experienced, you can expect it to increase by as much as 65 percent, according to Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan in The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation (Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1997).
One form of moving meditation that I personally perform is qi gong. It places my body into a hypometabolic state where oxygen consumption is reduced by up to 20 percent.
How to avoid “burn out” in life and lower your stress levels
Back in 1908, the famed German physiologist Max Rubner introduced what he called “The Rate of Living Theory,” which explored the relationship between one’s metabolic rate, body size, and longevity. The faster you spun your biological wheels, according to Rubner, the shorter your life. This theory isn’t exactly new: the ancients concluded that a person had just so many heartbeats or breaths per lifetime before expiring. Whether or not this is true, it seems obvious that meditation lowers stress levels and increases the body’s ability to utilize oxygen, which is to one’s benefit.
With qigong meditation, blood lactate levels drop dramatically within 10 minutes, which lessens anxiety and relaxes the muscles. This is coupled with a decline in the stress hormone cortisol. In one study of people over 45, qigong caused DHEA levels to rise by 23 percent for men and 47 percent for women.
Taking your brain function to a higher level
One of the jobs of DHEA is to maintain brain cells; there’s up to six times more DHEA in those tissues than anywhere else in the body, and folks suffering with Alzheimer’s have been found to be very low in DHEA. Another hormone that meditation helps you produce is melatonin.
Melatonin has recently been discovered to prevent aging – just another good reason to meditate. According to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, increased levels of melatonin were evident in their studies of meditators.
Meditation can take many forms; what they all have in common is watching thoughts as they appear upon the mental screen and letting them simply pass as if they were subtitles of a movie. This, of course, takes practice, but the time invested would be more than worth it if all you got from it were the things we just discussed. Yet there’s much more.
What if our normal thinking consciousness was only one room in our mental house?
What if there were doors that opened to greater perception, even experiences that you could say are beyond language? Would you care to explore further? History is replete with accounts of ordinary men and women who have triggered great awakenings and exclaimed that a much greater reality awaits us all.
Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a new era where millions will find not just longer lives, but greater peace, contentment, and compassion through meditation. After all, if it can be accomplished by one person, it can be accomplished by many. Shall we journey together and see where this takes us?
About the author: Pre-baby boomer Peter Ragnar has written over twenty-eights books and published courses on every aspect of personal development. He feeds the thirst for those special individuals who are on the quest for human excellence around the world. His fascinating and unique line of products, including “Magnetic Qi Gong,” can be found at: RoaringLionPublishing.com or call 1-800-491-7141