Jayney's Blog

Meditation reducing biological age

Practising compassion towards ourselves lowers biological age…

As I’m sure you’re well aware there are various types of natural anti-ageing strategies, including nutritional management, nutritional products, medicinal herbs, exercise techniques and finally, lifestyle adjustments.

All of these approaches have been proven in scientific trials to reduce our ‘biological’ age, making us younger physically, if not chronologically.  

All of these approaches are superb and have strong scientific evidence to support them. I strongly advise we should all try to integrate some, if not all of them into our lives. This is because ageing is a ‘gestalt’ – a truly holistic process that involves all of our discrete parts. For instance, the health of our cardiovascular system relates to our pulmonary system, which relates to our cognitive function, which relates to our socialisation abilities and so on and so forth!

Considering the number of options we have in order to tackle anti-ageing safely and methodically, it got me thinking if there is one overarching approach to help us manage our bodies ageing process better?

And, while I was thinking, I had the amazing good fortune of being introduced to one of the world’s experts in the natural healthcare field, Dr Frank Sabatino, who has not one, but two Doctorates. He’s a chiropractic doctor and a neuro-endocrinologist and Medical Director of an outstanding natural health clinic in Florida. 

Dr Sabatino has written some of the most important scientific papers in his field and if that wasn’t enough to impress me, Dr Sabatino’s approach to health was his overriding emphasis on compassion and how incredibly important it is to treat oneself with kindness.

So, how do kindness and compassion relate to natural anti-ageing? 

In a research study that looked at the telomere length of women who were caring for very sick children, it was discovered that telomere length in these mums was a lot shorter than in mums who were not caring for very sick children. Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. They shorten with each cell division and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. To visualise this, imagine the bit of plastic that caps the ends of our shoelaces which stops them from unravelling.

The women who had been carers for the longest amount of time had the shortest telomeres, making them as much as 10 years older – biologically. Similar findings have been seen in carers of people with Alzheimer’s Disease.

So, stress causes accelerated ageing, this much we know, however, what can be done to help prevent our telomeres from unravelling and is it possible to even regrow them? 

New research in the fields of Mindfulness Meditation, and two closely associated approaches; Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) and Compassion Meditation (CM) show great promise.

These meditation techniques use exercises that are designed to enhance unconditional, positive emotional states of kindness and compassion towards oneself and others. The research suggests that LKM leads to increased levels of positive emotions and a decrease in negative thoughts and emotions. Initial neuroendocrine studies suggest that CM may reduce stress-induced subjective distress and positively support immune response. 

These methods are set to combat a variety of different psychological problems and situations that involve interpersonal processes aka depression, social anxiety, marital problems, anger, managing the strains of long-term caregiving and in some reported cases Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

So, taking the time to meditate and learn how to treat yourself with kindness and compassion can certainly make you feel and function better emotionally. And, the chances are too, that it may be one of the most important elements in a sane and effective natural anti-ageing strategy, by helping your precious telomeres to remain robust and active.

Unsure of where to start?

As many of you know, I am also President of The Complementary Association. As such, I strongly suggest you head to our Chill Out Zone pages to find out more about how meditation can positively impact our mental and physical well-being.

Also for further information on how you start meditating, take a look at The Mental Health Foundation charity that offers Mindfulness Meditation courses: mentalhealth.org.uk 

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