Scientists used to believe that genes are a fixed thing. In other words, the genes you are born with are what determine who you are, and nothing can ever change that; they remain static, and cannot be altered. However, though the study of epigenetics, scientists began to realize that genes can be expressed in different ways, and that genes can be turned “on” or “off.”
Now, scientists are learning that through the practice of meditation, people can indirectly change their genes. Now, before we go any further, we need to clarify what “change your genes” means. It does not mean that if you were born with the gene that selects for brown eyes, but you want blue eyes, that you can meditate your way to going from a brown eyed person to a blue eyed person.
When scientists say you can change your genes by meditating, what they mean is that you can trigger physical changes in the genes as a sort of byproduct or side effect of meditating. For example, we all have these things called telomeres at the ends of our DNA molecules. Scientists have known that the longer your telomeres are, the longer your DNA can survive with less chance of something bad happening to it. Basically, longer telomeres equal a healthier person.
According to Huffington Post, one group of research scientists from USCF found that things like chronic stress and depression cause telomeres to get shorter. They then made the safe assumption that if stress and depression shorten telomeres, it is likely that things that combat stress and depression – meditation – keep telomeres long and healthy.
In the same Huffington Post article that the above study was mentioned, several other studies were mentioned that compared the genes of experienced meditators to the genes of people who do not meditate. In each of the studies, the researchers observed that the experienced meditators had longer telomeres, and different cellular activity, than the participants who did not meditate.
All of this is just more evidence in the mounting pile of research that proves meditation can cause real, physical changes in the mind and body.
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