The Fitness Zone
Meditation is renowned for the positive psychological changes it engenders; however, a recent study suggests it increases cellular health as well.
According to researchers at the University of California, the positive psychological changes during meditation are due to increased amounts of activity by the telomerase enzyme. A product of the US-based Shamantha Project, the study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. The Shamantha Project is the most comprehensive long term study of the effects of meditation to date.
We have found that meditation promotes positive psychological changes, and that meditators showing the greatest improvement on various psychological measures had the highest levels of telomerase' said Clifford Saron, associate research scientist at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain and leader of the Shamantha Project.
Researchers measured the telomerase activity in thirty Shamantha Project participants at the end of a three-month stint at a meditation retreat. The study found that telomerase activity was about one-third higher in the white blood cells of participants who had completed the retreat than in a matched group of controls.
The project is yielding more than one discovery. Katherine MacLean, a recent University of California PhD graduate now at Johns Hopkins University, reported that meditation increases attention span, a report soon to be published in Psychological Science.
This work is among the first to show a relation between positive psychological change and telomerase activity. Because the finding is new, it should serve to inspire future studies to replicate and extend what we found' said University of California postdoctoral scholar and lead author Tonya Jacobs.