The science discovered behind meditation is what makes it the most priceless anti-aging practice there ever might have been. For many years, meditation has been a form of release, a way of letting go of the old and clearing out space for the new. Finding your way to a more focused, mindful and present way of life has the potential to change the structure and growth of your brain.
You might have expected the degeneration of your brain to go hand-in-hand with the aging process of your physical body, but science has spoken, backing the fact that the practice of meditation preserves our brains cognitive function and therefore adding years to our biological clock.
How does mindfulness influence our bodies aging process?
As Dr Daniel J Siegel, author of the book ‘Aware’ said: “Where attention goes, neural firing flows and neuro-connection grows.” Each of us is made out of cells, and our cells made of cells. Our cells can regenerate about 60 times in our lifespan. Specifically, at each end of our DNA cell strands are protective caps called Telomeres. The longer the telomere, the more times a cell can divide and refresh. The shorter your telomeres get, the shorter your lifespan becomes, which gives your cells a more significant susceptibility to dying off but is a big part of the natural physiological aging process.
One factor has stood out in all major studies when it comes to what accelerates the shortening of our telomeres: chronic environmental stress and perceived stress induces premature aging.
Explained in a beautiful illustration of how our bodies react to stress by American biologist, Bruce Lipton: before modern times, stress caused by the fear of being attacked by, for example, a mountain lion, mobilized fight or flight mode to kick in to use the necessary energy needed to address the perceived threat. The average functioning body takes about 20-60 minutes to recover from the imminent danger. Now, in the modern age, we are always in fight or flight mode. Whether caused by the traffic making you late for work, the frustration of standing in long queue’s or not being able to get your prescription in time, stress builds and builds, but our bodies are eventually unable to hold the weight and will crumble way before its expiration date. Meaning our bodies have fewer resources and energy to repair and heal, causing our bodies to age at a much faster rate and developing degenerative diseases.
Mindfulness interventions reduce stress, blood pressure and change the way our brains function, giving our minds this crazy ability to strengthen the circuits between our brain and body.
Focusing attention on things like hearing, sight or an injury to heal, you reprogram cells in your body to keep refreshing for as long as it’s meant to, without the repercussions of stress.
Facing fears, dealing with past trauma, and releasing resentment opens up the possibility to release emotional blockages and prevents or releases physical blockages. Let go of what holds you and your biological clock from ticking regularly, and make way for telomeres to make new again by practising the priceless act for anti-aging, meditation.