A 2008 study conducted by two major teaching hospitals of the Harvard Medical School sought to find out if regular practice of a meditation technique that elicits the relaxation response might be associated with any changes in a person’s “gene expression” – the activity of genes in influencing health or producing other changes in the human body. They wanted to identify if any genes in an individual were “turned on” or “turned off” by practicing this on a regular basis.
Individuals who were brand new to meditation and Mindfulness techniques were given an 8-week training program on this certain technique. Following the 8-weeks, the researchers retested the gene expressions of the subjects and 433 of the genes had changed (either switched on or off) and these gene expressions were consistent with individuals who had been using the techniques for many years.
The most exciting and promising find of the study was that the gene signatures that were switched on or off were associated through past research with clear health benefits. In the book The Relaxation Response, Dr. Herbert Benson writes about the study and states, “(These) benefits included more healthful regulation of the immune system, lower psychosocial stress levels, less destructive oxidative stress, and a reduced tendency toward premature aging. Also the gene expression we observed is associated with healthful gene activity that is that opposite of that found in many cardiovascular diseases and other conditions.”
This research, along with many other studies, can give you confidence that your daily Mindfulness practice is having a valuable influence on your health that you will enjoy for many years to come.
For more details on this study please see the book The Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing by Dr. Herbert Benson.
Wishing you success in all aspects of life,
Founder and President
Smart Health Wellness and Performance