Scientists are now acknowledging the Yogi belief as a group of Yoga scientists from Harvard prove the benefits of meditation for beating stress and staying healthy. Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Denninger led this 5-year study. They are working towards finding out how meditation can affect gene and brain activity in chronically diseased.
What’s the study about?
The Harvard researchers are studying the connection of mind with our body, and how certain techniques can control genes linked with stress and immune function. Denninger’s team has used advanced technologies for Neuro-imaging and genomics to measure physiological changes in detail. They have scientifically established through their study the yogic meditation effects are felt throughout the body and not just the brain.
Reason for the Study
60% to 90% of doctor visits in the USA are to address stress-related diseases. The study aims to address numerous stress-induced conditions such as hypertension, depression, infertility and the aging process as well. As per World Health Organization studies, an estimated $300 billion loss is incurred annually by companies through absenteeism, turnover and low productivity due to employee stress. Leading American personalities such as Rupert Murdoch, JerrySienfeld and Bill George have sworn by the benefits of meditation in the past.
About the Study
The current study by Denninger’s team is expected to conclude by 2015 and tracks 210 healthy subjects who have reported high-levels of chronic stress for six months. The subjects were divided into three groups – first group consisted of 70 subjects who practiced Kundalini yoga, second group of 70 participants meditate while the third group of 70 participants listen to stress educational audio books. All three groups do this for 20 minutes every day at home. The participants were given weekly instructions for two months and they answer questionnaires, give blood samples for genomic analysis and undergo Neuro-imaging tests.
What others have found?
Harvard is not the only institute curious about the benefits of meditation, though it was the most in-depth study. A study published in “PloS One” medical journal revealed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of energy metabolism and insulin secretion genes. Another study published by Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn of University of California at Los Angeles found that 12 minutes of yoga, meditation every day for eight weeks increased telomerase activity by 43%, which in turn improved stress-induced aging.