The Science Is In: Meditation Affects Aging and Telomere Length

Science is all about precision, controlled studies, and measurable, repeatable results. So for years researchers resisted working on alternative practices such as meditation, dismissing the few studies done as “fuzzy science,” “subjective,” or “impossible to duplicate.” But as research methods have advanced, so has the accuracy of the latest research. There is ample evidence now that stress leads to increased risk of health problems and that meditation reduces stress. What’s new are the studies showing how stress is related to aging and telomere length.

Thanks to groundbreaking work from researchers such as molecular biologist Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and psychiatrist Elissa Epel, (video) we can now definitively link meditation with slowing, and perhaps even reversing the aging process. Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize for the discovery of telomeres, the protective caps on our chromosomes that wear down from aging, decided to study the effects of meditation on telomere length. Blackburn, named one of Time magazine’s 100 “Most Influential People in the World” in 2007, effectively launched the field of telomere research. Blackburn and Epel have now released a book with their research, The Telomere Effect – Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, and have appeared on Dr. Oz and other tv shows.

On his Natural Health website,, John Douillard writes, “Dr. Blackburn followed the logical paper trail: shorter telomeres cause accelerated aging, highly stressed people had shorter telomeres, and short telomeres are linked to health concerns….. meditation has been found to increase the activity of an enzyme called telomerase, which protects the chromosomal caps, called telomeres, from shortening. These chromosomal caps protect our cells from aging, degeneration and disease. Chanting, yoga, and other Ayurvedic lifestyle practices were shown to also increase the activity of telomerase in the body.” In addition to his website for natural health and Ayurveda, Mr. Douillard (video) has developed the Transformational Awareness Technique (TAT), a practice that combines meditation with action.

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