Monday, June 26, 2017

Meditation’s Deeper Impact
A very dear friend just sent me a link to this fascinating research. 

The research finds that yoga, Tai Chi, prayer, and meditation are more valuable than we thought.

We have long known these are relaxing, anxiety reducing, calming—even as a one-time event.

It has also been clear for a long time that more consistent practice builds on this to help us center, balance, energize and appreciate.

This research, reported in Yoga Journal below, now suggests that these practices also have a much deeper and more lasting impact…our genetic structure—reversing the negative impacts of stress and risk of inflammation-related diseases. Here is the article in full, with links to more information.

Researchers Double Down on Claim Yoga Changes the Expression of Your Genes
Over the last decade or so, we've been hearing that mind-body practices like yoga and meditation may affect our genes. A new review of the research solidifies it.
JUN 22, 2017

Yogis have heard before that yoga, meditation, and other mind–body interventions (MBIs) not only help you relax and feel your best, but also might change the activity, or expression, of your genes, reversing the damaging effects of chronic stress. And a new scientific review of 18 previously published studies on the effects of various MBIs published in Frontiers in Immunology solidifies the claim.

“Mind-body techniques like yoga or meditation are the most effective ways of reducing stress that are known to science," lead author Ivana Buric, a doctoral student and research assistant at Coventry University in England, tells This systematic review was conducted to examine changes in gene expression that occur after MBIs and to explore how these molecular changes are related to health, Buric and her co-authors explain in the paper. 

After reviewing the previous studies, all of which used gene expression analysis in MBIs (i.e., mindfulnessyoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation response, and breath regulation), researchers found that overall, the studies indicate that these practices are associated with a downregulation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), which is produced when stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, and is also responsible for translating stress into inflammation.

“This is the opposite of the effects of chronic stress on gene expression and suggests that MBI practices may lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases,” study authors say in the paper, adding that this is essentially a reversal of the “molecular signature” of chronic stress. One more reason to make every practice more mindful!

And we can do it quietly on a beach or as part of a community, as I saw every morning for all my years living in China.

These are critically important conflict transformation skills—even in the single-use variety but even more so with more regular practice. 

When we build into our everyday routines time to reflect, to sit quietly, listening for the heartbeat of the universe—be this meditation or prayer, journaling or Tai Chi, yoga or long walks—we are better prepared to handle conflicts in our lives.

On top of this and relaxation and anxiety reduction…it turns out these practices are even more valuable than we thought!


  1. Yoga has made it possible for me to breathe the past 8 months as our democracy has been under attack from within.

  2. I know how you feel. Perhaps because of the regular beers with Father Norm, I have rediscovered prayer as my meditation of choice for the past few years. And that has been critically important for my sanity.