Meditation strengthens the immune system, prevents diseases, fights depression and activates the brain.
The power of prayer
The San Francisco University researchers hired a teacher and asked him to teach the practice for volunteers; the protocol consisted of two group sessions and six hours of individual meditation daily for three months. In the end, those who had followed the directions of the teacher had a level of telomerase (the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres when they shorten) by 30 percent higher than that measured in 30 healthy volunteers matched for age, sex and conditions health.
The study shows that meditation actually slows the aging process. And it does so by acting on the brain where it induces reactions that can help you manage stress and to capitalize on feelings of wellbeing. So much so that, some researchers argue that the active meditation is a natural tendency of the body to relax.
"Studio Massachusetts General Hospital", in collaboration with the Genomics Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shows how meditation alter the activity of genes associated with inflammation, cell death and control of free radicals responsible for many DNA damage. And, therefore, slow down aging, with an unsuspected speed for a practice so "soft": two months of practice are enough to change some 1,500 genes. "We saw that act on the activity of the mind can alter the way in which our basic genetic instructions active body, the mind has the ability to" turn on and off "the genes and then, turn off the stress, it means better health" as explained by Herbert Benson, one of the research managers.
Department of Psychology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Antonio Raffone explains: "We have seen that different meditation practices activate different areas in the brain ... We know that a few weeks of meditation are enough to obtain important changes." And there is no need to retire to a monastery: a recent study by the University of Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, shows that four days of meditation practice, can be enough to make us more bright and attentive.
Meditation is able to modulate the activity of the immune system. As explained Francesco Bottaccioli, honorary president of the Italian Society of Psiconeuroendocrinoimmunology and author of "Mind Restless", meditation manual published by O'Reilly: "Meditation puts the body in a position to respond effectively to aggression, but avoiding dangerous excesses of inflammation.".
A study of women suffering from breast cancer published in the journal "Brain Behavior and Immunity" we have seen that women who had learned to meditate had much lower cortisol levels than the others and were able to recover in a short time a similar immune profile to that of a healthy person. A group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin examined 43 studies, and concluded that meditation can help cancer sufferers fight insomnia but also the so-called "fatigue", the exhaustion that is a side effect of many therapies.
Other studies show that practicing meditation helps to control extreme emotional states, in particular the fear, by acting on the activity of the amygdala. And that has an effect not only on depressive anxious symptoms, but also on hormonal levels related to the physiological effects of stress.
The neocortex or cerebral cortex, despite having a thickness of only 3-5 mm, if we exclude the cerebellum, contains more nerve cells of any other brain structure. The University of California - Los Angeles, has conducted studies which have attested that meditation increases the density of brain mass and strengthens connections between brain cells. Professor Eileen Luders, assistant at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and her colleagues have found that people who meditate have a higher number of spins and brain furrows. It is intended for spins and brain furrows the formation of creases and brain grooves which enable the brain to process information faster. They also observed a direct correlation between the number of years of meditation and the number of spins and brain furrows, providing further evidence of neuroplasticity of the brain in this its ability to modify its synaptic connections.
By comparing the data obtained through magnetic resonance imaging, the differences found between the group of meditators and others, have found very obvious. In particular in the part of the brain, the right insula and dorsal left, tied to the autonomic nervous system, emotional and cognitive.