Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and focusing for a set period of time, which research shows can have a positive impact on a person's health and longevity.
Modern science sees meditation as a way to relax and reduce stress, improve memory, concentration and mood, as well as a real way to increase life expectancy.
A relatively short length of telomeres (end sections of chromosomes) is a marker of accelerated aging. Shorter telomeres are associated with chronic stress. This is supported by a study called "Accelerated telomere shortening in response to stress".
The results of the experiments show the possibility of changing this biomarker associated with health and longevity with the help of meditation, especially in women.
Chronic psychological stress has a detrimental effect on the activity of telomerase (an enzyme that adds specific repetitive DNA sequences to telomeres), which is a predictor (prognostic factor) of long-term cell viability.
A study examined the effect of meditation on telomerase activity (link to study). It is the first to link meditation to positive psychological changes and telomerase activity. The study concludes that meditative practices reduce negative emotionality, which contributes to an increase in telomerase activity, and this, in turn, is reflected in the length of immune cell telomeres and longevity.
Meditation practices have various health benefits, including the ability to maintain cognition as you age and prevent dementia.
Research shows that meditation can affect multiple pathways that play a role in brain aging and mental performance.
For example, meditation can reduce stress-induced cortisol secretion, thereby having a neuroprotective effect.
Meditation may also have beneficial effects on blood lipids and reduce oxidative stress, which may in turn reduce the risk of cerebrovascular disease and age-related neurodegeneration.
Also, one scientific study provided theoretical justifications for how meditation can increase life expectancy and maintain optimal health (link to study).
Many diseases are generated by our consciousness: neurosis, depression, insomnia, etc. Consciousness needs the same hygiene as the body. Mood is not something that happens to us or something that we are not able to influence. Meditation is one way to clear the mind.
For many, meditation is associated with Buddhist monks sitting cross-legged somewhere in the mountains. In fact, you don't need to become a monk, quit your job, or go to the Himalayas to practice meditation. You can practice meditation at home, devoting 10-20 minutes a day to this activity.
Classes must be constant. Meditating occasionally will not bring the desired effect.
The main condition for meditation is the maximum relaxation of the body. Meditate while sitting in a comfortable position. The lotus position is optional, you can do it just sitting on a chair. It is not recommended to lie down, because there is a danger of falling asleep.
There are many different meditation techniques, both complex and simple. But the number of techniques in itself is not important. One is enough. Only the quality of execution matters. The whole variety of meditation techniques is widely represented on the Internet, but we will present here the simplest ones. These are breathing and visualization techniques.
Starting position – we sit on a chair, the feet are completely adjacent to the floor. We keep our back straight. We close our eyes, put our hands on our knees, palms looking up.
We concentrate completely on our own breathing. Watch as the air fills the lungs and exhales back. We do not make any effort, we do not try to change the rhythm of breathing. We breathe as usual.
If extraneous thoughts appear, we switch thoughts to breathing and observe it in a relaxed manner for 10-15 minutes.
Watch your breath for a few minutes, relax.
Then we change the rhythm of breathing – slowly take a deep breath, hold our breath for four seconds, then also slowly exhale.
Continue by focusing on your breath for 10-15 minutes.
The basis of any meditation is the ability to concentrate your attention without being distracted and without switching to solving some other tasks.
This technique can be performed lying down. We close our eyes and imagine a beautiful and cozy corner of nature, in which peace and quiet reign. We present in detail, down to the smallest detail, everything that we want to imagine and what our imagination is capable of: the warmth of the sun's rays, the murmur of water, the singing of birds, the fluttering of butterflies, the chirping of grasshoppers... etc. In a word, we create a complete illusion of a corner of paradise. Do it sincerely and with joy. Try to imagine everything vividly and as realistically as possible, as if all this is happening in reality. You can turn on quiet background music.
Some tips for meditation
- Don't force yourself to meditate when you don't feel like it. Meditate only when you feel the need to.
- Come out of meditation when you feel that you have had enough for today or when you no longer feel like it. Don't time it. Don't use an alarm for this. Come out quickly.
- If extraneous thoughts constantly climb into your head and return you to problems, this is normal. You can't get rid of it right away. You have to practice and you'll be fine. The very fact that you are trying to regulate your consciousness is already commendable.
- Don't expect quick results. Nothing will change in a day or two. Do not do it for the sake of the result, and the result will appear by itself.