How to lengthen telomeres with meditation?

Telomeres shorten as we age and there are other lifestyle factors which can potentially increase the rate of telomere shortening including stress, obesity and smoking. Fortunately, there is compelling evidence to suggest mindfulness meditation can help lengthen them.

But what actually are telomeres and why should they be long?

Find out more in this vlog (if you would prefer to read about it, there is a video transcript below the video).

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How To Lengthen Telomeres With Meditation – Video Transcript

What’s that about then?

More and more research is being conducted on how meditation may have positive effects on the length of telomeres.

  • What is a telomere you might ask?
  • And why should they be long?

As explained by Elizabeth Blackburn, using shoe laces as a metaphor, shoe laces are our chromosomes, the structures inside our cells that carry our genetic information. Telomeres are the caps on the shoelaces that keep our genetic material from unravelling. When the shoelace tips wear down too far, the shoelaces become unusable, the same thing happens to our cells. Short telomeres are one of the primary reasons human cells grow old.

What happens when our telomeres get too short?

Basically we need to eat, drink, sleep, exercise and manage our stress, so that our shoelace tips won’t fray prematurely, which means, we can increase our life span, and the way we age.

And then we can pass these healthy telomeres that we have taken charge of, onto the next generation.  All good stuff.

And then there is the question of – is it nature or nurture?

In other words is it our genes or our environment?

Both are critical.

We all have genetic dispositions, but it very much depends on how we express our genes, which is shaped by the quality of our health choices.  There are lifestyle factors that can turn genes on or shut them down.

A quote from researcher George Bray who said that ‘genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger’.

So, if there is one practice that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to help themselves, and their overall quality of life, the answer is simple.

Meditate.

Meditate - Quote

It is not the first time I have mentioned it, and it won’t be the last. It’s an age old practice proven to be extremely beneficial to our mental and physical health. The ancients used it regularly to achieve a better sense of balance and control in their lives — and to heal disease.

And coming back to how to lengthen telomeres with meditation, it has been shown that it reduces stress and increases telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres.

There are many different types of meditation, I have tried quite a few, and enjoy all of them. Each way of meditating has it’s own nuance, and is essentially about creating, and then maintaining an alert, but calm state of consciousness — where the mind is aware while the body is relaxed.

The key is regular practice, ideally at the same time every day, so that it becomes a routine, that becomes part of who you are. Once you get to that point, the body is better able to kick start its natural ability to heal.

Since a large part of meditation is about being aware of our thoughts, and how the mind can be highjacked by our thoughts, it’s no surprise that many of the outcomes directly affect our mental state, in a positive way.

It enhances our brain function, and as a result, leads to:

  • better focus
  • memory
  • cognitive skills
  • creativity and intuition
  • a calmer, sharper mind that does a better job of processing information, making decisions, solving problems, and ignoring distractions

Also, increased serotonin production comes from meditating. It can boost your mood, behaviour, and your general level of happiness, thus having a positive effect on anxiety, stress and depression.

If meditation has all these positive effects on the brain, it’s only natural for those benefits to translate to the physical body.

Among its many benefits, meditation helps to manage your heart rate and breathing rate.

It also improves mitochondrial energy production and consumption, which effectively means more energy, a boosted immune system and a resilience to stress.

Other studies have shown that it reduces blood pressure, and inflammatory markers go down, helping to decrease the effects of inflammatory disorders such as premenstrual syndrome, and menopausal symptoms, and that’s just for starters.  Our bodies are constantly under stress, which is one of the main causes of inflammation, that’s where most diseases start.

When you combine these benefits with the fact that you are now regularly getting a better perspective and awareness of who you really are and how you function best, it’ll come as no surprise that you will start to see your relationships improve as well. Why wouldn’t they? You’re in better physical condition, with a better mental state, and you’re able to see yourself and those around you in a brand new light. Others will surely be able to see it too and be drawn to it.

Here’s the thing about meditation –

You don’t need to be a body or brain expert in order to discover or confirm these positive effects.

You also don’t need to be a yogi, a shaman, in order for it to have a tremendous impact on your life.

You just need to experience it yourself a few times, and then you’ll know why millions are embracing this powerful practice.

So here is a simple mindfulness meditation, using gratitude.

Why Is Gratitude Important?

We are so often caught up in judgment, of ourselves, of others, and of the situation we find ourselves in.

This room is full of clutter.

Where I work is efficient enough, the government isn’t doing it’s job properly, etc, etc.

Our minds are like judgement machines.

And this inner judgement machine turns on itself. I’m too fat, too thin, too silly, too stupid, too smart, too good, too bad, too nice, too kind, too unkind and so on.

If you believe these judgments to be true, it can impact your mental health. So what’s the solution?

Let’s try this gratitude practice.

Softly close your eyes, or lower your gaze, whatever feels right for you.

There are many ways to do a gratitude practice. One simple way is to think of one thing in your life that you’re grateful for as your head hits your pillow. That’s a nice, easy one to do daily.

Another way of doing it, which takes a bit longer, is to think of something or a situation that you are grateful for. Spend a few moments thinking of why you’re grateful for it.

Now think of family members that you’re grateful for. And think about why that is.

Think about what friends you are grateful for, and why.

Think about what you are grateful for in your neighbourhood, your village/town or city, your country even the planet – Mother Earth itself.

Then zoom back into yourself and think about your own body and mind and what you’re grateful for, about yourself

This can give you a sense of cultivating a ripple of gratitude that starts small and just keeps expanding.

And when you are ready you can open you eyes and take that lovely feeling into the rest of your day

If you are interested in making some lifestyle changes, I am offering a simple course that explores some options that could be helpful.

Please click here find out more.