Transcendental meditation (TM) is a mind-body meditation technique designed to settle the mind inward and quiet your thoughts. The practice, like many other meditation techniques, involves sitting quietly for 20 minutes at a time and stilling that ceaseless mind chatter that seems to take over for the other 1,440 minutes of the day.
According to the official Transcendental Meditation website, there are over 380 published studies that attest to TM’s effectiveness at reducing stress and stress-related conditions. Research on TM technique has also shown that TM seems to lower high blood pressure and to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, death, as well as slow the rate of biological aging. But until now, researchers didn’t understand precisely how Transcendental Meditation may increase longevity.
The acclaimed medical journal PLOS ONE reports that scientists have uncovered what is occurring on the level of DNA when one consistently practices TM technique and incorporates TM lifestyle changes. It appears that TM and its associated lifestyle behaviors can actually increase telomerase gene expression, and may be the reason way TM has been linked to so many cardiovascular and aging benefits.
For this latest pilot trial, researchers recruited and studied 48 men and women with hypertension (high blood pressure) at Howard University Medical Center. For 16 weeks, half of the participants practiced TM technique and went through a basic health education course. The other half implemented lifestyle changes, including weight reduction, decreased salt intake, increased exercise, and moderating alcohol intake.
At the end of the study, both groups exhibited increased telomerase gene expression and lower blood pressure, suggesting that TM is on par with the large number of lifestyle changes undertaken by the second group.
“These findings are very encouraging for prevention,” said Dr. Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at MUM. “They show that both the Transcendental Meditation technique and active lifestyle modification can contribute to heart health.”
How Does Telomerase Protect Longevity?
The study showed that TM activated two genes that code for telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that adds molecules to the end of your chromosomes, or telomeres. You see, as you age, your telomeres (the end-caps on your chromosomes) shorten, which leads to cellular aging. But telomerase helps keep these telomeres protected. And, according to the study, TM may help boost the production of telomerase, thereby keeping your telomeres from degenerating, and consequently helping to increase your longevity.
If you are interested in learning more about TM or finding a local instructor, visit the TM website at https://www.tm.org.