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Intellectual ExpansionMax Lugavere

The 7 Most Meaningful Benefits of Meditation — Max Lugavere

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of long telomeres, which are a proposed biomarker of aging. The longer your telomeres are, generally, the more youthful you are.

Inflammation can shorten telomeres, and shorter telomeres impair our ability to defend against the ravages of aging. This includes keeping you safe from chronic diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative conditions, as well as accelerated skin aging (R). Longer telomeres have also been associated with greater volume of the hippocampus, the vulnerable memory center of the brain (R).

I’ve already described two proteins that are associated with the inflammatory response, IL-6 and TNF-α, and I’ve covered how meditation can reduce circulating levels of these proteins. This is good news, as both are inversely associated with telomere length—by reducing their presence in your system, we may be increasing our telomere length (R, R). Meditation has also been shown to increase activity of the enzyme telomerase, which protects and lengthens telomeres (R).

7. It can help break bad habits

With all of the benefits that meditation imparts onto your executive function, which is involved in self-control, planning, and decision making, it should be no surprise that meditation can help you break bad, lingering habits. 

In one randomized control trial, prison inmates that engaged in transcendental meditation for 4 months had a 47% reduction in total trauma symptoms including anxiety, depression, dissociation, sleep disturbance, and perceived stress compared to controls that didn’t meditate. Trauma is significantly correlated to rates of recidivism (returning to prison), and a prior study found that transcendental meditation reduced rates of recidivism anywhere between 33% and 47%.

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