Compact Disc

Meditation Produces Opposite Effect of ‘Fight or Flight’ | Psych Central News

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 4, 2013

Meditation Produces Opposite Effect of ‘Fight or Flight’ A new study reveals that practitioners of meditation experience changes in gene expression that are the exact opposite of what occurs during the “flight or fight” stress response.

Specifically, genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance are turned on, while those involved in inflammation are turned off.

These effects are more significant and consistent for long-term practitioners.

People who practice simple meditation aren’t “just relaxing,” explained the study’s senior author, Dr. Herbert Benson. Instead, they’re experiencing “a specific genomic response that counteracts the harmful genomic effects of stress.”

It’s been shown that repeating a yoga pose, prayer, or mantra while disregarding other thoughts protects against anxiety and depression as well as physical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and types of cancer that are exacerbated by stress.

For the study, published in the open access journal PLoS One, researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Subjects trained 26 adults with no previous meditation experience for eight weeks.

The participants practiced deep breathing, repeated mantras, and learned to ignore intrusive thoughts.

At first, they were given blood tests immediately before and 15 minutes after listening to a 20-minute health education CD. This was repeated after their training, except this time with a CD that guided them through meditation. Twenty-five other individuals, who had long-term experience in evoking the relaxation response, were tested as well.

All of the subjects’ blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation. The changes were the exact opposite of what occurs during flight or fight. In the long-term practitioners, the effects were more pronounced and consistent.

Although the study only explored one way of reaching a relaxation response, people have been figuring this out for themselves for thousands of years, through yoga, prayer, and other forms of meditation.

This is the first time, however, that researchers have been able to show that these practices actually produce a change in gene expression.

The findings show that the effects of the relaxation response become stronger with practice, typically twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes. “Do it for years,” said Benson, “and then these effects are quite powerful in how they change your gene activity.”

Source: PLoS ONE

via Meditation Produces Opposite Effect of ‘Fight or Flight’ | Psych Central News.

 

Yoga Isn’t Just Good For Your Mind, It’s Good For Your Genes | Greatist

There are lots of reasons to start practicing yoga and meditation. Yogis get to shop at Lululemon and tote around fancy rolled-up mats. Those who meditate attract admiring looks when they sit poised in lotus position in the middle of a crowded office building.

Okay, so we’re being a bit facetious. But, as it turns out, the om-and-down-dog crowd may be doing more than just jumping on the latest trend. Multiple studies released over the last few months provide solid evidence that yoga and meditation can undo the serious damage that stress wreaks on our bodies. At a time when many Americans report high levels of stress, these findings are a good reason for healthcare professionals to start recommending these techniques on a regular basis.

What’s the Deal?

In one recent study, researchers recruited a small group of newbie meditators and trained them for six weeks in the art of breathing deeply, repeating mantras, and ignoring intrusive thoughts. At the end of the training, researchers drew blood before and 15 minutes after participants listened to a 20-minute guided meditation CD. What they found was remarkable: All the blood samples showed positive changes in gene expression the process by which certain genes are turned “on” or “off”.

Specifically, genes linked to energy metabolism, mitochondria function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were activated, while genes associated with stress and inflammation were deactivated. Researchers also ran the same experiment on a group of more experienced meditators, and found that the pros’ blood samples showed even more significant, positive changes in gene expression.Other recent research has yielded similar findings. Scientists have found that yoga induces changes in the expression of genes related to the immune system in other words, yoga may boost immunity, and that practicing yoga and meditation can help the body heal faster from disease [1] [2].

Why It MattersAt the same time that scientists have been finding that yoga and meditation can cause changes at the cellular level, other researchers have shown how chronic stress can cause long-term physiological and psychological damage. In studies, mice that have high levels of cortisol the stress hormone also show weakened immune systems. Presumably, these findings may apply to humans as well. [3].  And people who report high levels of stress in their daily lives are more likely to experience chronic health conditions and/or psychological disorders down the line [4] [5].

The implications of both these areas of research are huge. As many as 20 percent of Americans say they experience extreme stress and many don’t know where to turn for help. Yoga and meditation provide a scientifically-backed, highly practical way to help manage some of this stress before it does lasting damage to our minds and bodies. We’re not talking about a huge lifestyle change, either. In the most recent study, blood samples showed changes in gene expression after participants meditated for just 20 minutes albeit after spending some time learning proper yoga and meditation techniques.

The good news is that it’s likely some of the most stressed people are already yogis and/or meditators. As of 2012, more than 20 million Americans practiced yoga, and more than half said they practice for stress relief. At the same time, in 2011, more than six million Americans were advised to practice alternative mind-body therapies by their healthcare provider [6].All this research provides convincing evidence for making yoga and meditation something healthcare professionals recommend on a regular basis. Other possibilities include workplace interventions that focus on teaching yoga and meditation techniques. With any luck, at some point these practices won’t even be considered “alternative” anymore.

Do you practice yoga and or meditation regularly? What are your motivations? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.

via Yoga Isn’t Just Good For Your Mind, It’s Good For Your Genes | Greatist.

 

The “best” meditation is what works for you! by Karah Pino, MAcOM

The results of a research study from San Francisco State University came out in July of 2012 that asked the question: “What is the best meditation?”

Meditation practitioners around the world would say: “The meditation I do!”  and as it turns out, the research shows that it is absolutely true!

The study followed people who learned different styles of meditation and tracked the effectiveness of the meditation program.  What was shown is that those who learned a style that suited them tended to follow up with their practice better than those that didn’t particularly like the style they were taught.  But the results of the different styles were equally effective, so long as they were practiced regularly. This confirmed what I had noticed for my students over the years.  Any technique will help you deal with stress to improve your health,  smooth your relationships, and help you enjoy your life.

“A new study just published notes the importance of selecting a meditation method that is most comfortable to the new meditator, not the one that is currently the most popular. Choosing the one you are most comfortable with increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study and a professor of health education at San Francisco State University.”Read More

Helping people find a style that works for them is the goal of the Unwind your Mind curriculum.

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

This class is designed to give an overview of the types of different techniques to people newly interested in meditation.  The four categories of meditation techniques are: Mindfulness, Visualization techniques, Sound techniques and Movement techniques.  The types of techniques introduced in the three hour class include breathing techniques, guided meditation, chanting, self observation and QiGong.

To take this class or purchase the CD, please visit: MindUnwind.org/Meditation

mommy-and-alvin-sqKarah Pino, MAcOM has a master’s degree in Acupunture and Chinese medicine including meditation techniques for healing.  She is a meditation instructor at the University of Washington Experimental College and Mind Unwind Gallery.  Courses are offered regularly in Seattle, WA on on retreats offered through Mind Unwind.

It’s Time to Unwind your Mind!

Introduction to Meditation

Here’s the Introductory track on the Unwind your Mind Meditation Instruction CD with transcript below:

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

Unwind your Mind Intro Transcript:

It’s time to unwind your mind.  Find yourself a quiet place to sit while I explain a little about these techniques to clear and open your mind.

We all struggle with stress, more precisely, our response to stress.  Tension, anxiety, short breath, fast heart-rate, raised blood pressure, disrupted digestion, trouble sleeping, the list goes on…and on.

Fortunately for us there are ways of neutralizing the stress response we are experiencing and allowing ourselves to enter a state of calmness and restoration.  As modern research continues to explore meditation as a therapy, we are learning how to apply these ancient techniques to our very busy and stressful modern lives.

The first set of techniques utilizes the breath as a tool to change our physiological patterning from a stress pattern to a rest pattern.  Once you practice them a while and are familiar with how you respond to each technique, they can be done most anywhere and can positively impact your stress response in as little as two minutes, that’s about 10-20 breaths.

*Remember if at any point you start to feel lightheaded while practicing these techniques, immediately return to normal breathing.  It can take some time for your body to re-adjust to what is really a normal level of oxygen.

The basic posture for meditation in a chair is preparation for a longer meditation such as the most basic mindfulness meditation:  Observation of the Breath.  20 minutes of mindful meditation is a very powerful tool for switching your neurological pattern into a restorative state and has been shown to lower cortisol/stress hormone levels for up to 12 hours!

Visualization techniques work through utilizing the power of the mind to conceptualize.  Turtle breathing, is a practice that helps us learn to change mental constructs by switching between opposites.  We can then apply this thought reversal process to more complex, stress induced, thought and feeling patterns.

Sound techniques utilize the physical vibration of sound to impact our physiology in very measurable ways.  Our heart, for instance, beats on average more than 100,000 times per day, reverberating in our chest, triggering cascades of biochemicals.

Movement techniques help us to learn to maintain a calm state of meditation awareness as we are moving, so that we can take this peacefulness with us throughout our day.

sop let’s begin.  This may sound strange our maybe eve a bit corny, but one of the fastest way to reset our mental pattern is to chant the sound OM.  It’s kind of like a shortcut, so let’s try it together for just a few breaths and see how you feel.

Sitting with your spine straight and room for your lungs to expand completely, breathing at your own pace, fill your lungs and exhale making the sound OM.  Like this…….

mommy-and-alvin-sqBy Karah Pino, MAcOM: Meditation Instructor and creator of Unwind your Mind