A new study led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University provides first-of-its-kind evidence that body awareness and other mindfulness techniques can not only reduce negative emotional ailments, but have positive health effects on a physical, cellular level.
“These results provide some of the first indications that immune cell gene expression profiles can be modulated by a psychological intervention,” said study collaborator Steven Cole, professor of medicine and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine.
The study randomly assigned forty healthy adults aged 55â€“85 to either an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program or no treatment. The program consisted of weekly two-hour meetings in which participants learned sensation-awareness techniques and breathing methods. Homework was also assigned in the form of mindfulness meditation exercises for 30 minutes a day at home.
Using blood samples collected, researchers found that the older adult sample in particular had elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in their immune cells at the beginning of the study, and that the training reduced this pro-inflammatory gene expression. They found that inflammation responders, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in particular, were also reduced.
Along with reducing inflammation, the mindfulness training reduced the cancerous, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease risk it regularly contributes to.
Concluding the study, lead researcher J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology at CMU, noted, “If you’re interested in using mindfulness meditation, find an instructor in your city…It’s important to train your mind like you train your biceps in the gym.”
Risa F. Kaparo, PhD, master ofÂ self-sensing, self-organizing and self-renewal training, has long held that the art and practice of embodied mindfulness can transform the body in addition to the mind. Her book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence, capitalizes on the study’s findings by providing simple, easy to learn practices that can be appliedÂ â€śanytime, anywhereâ€ť to live more mindfully. A number of the practices she demonstrates can even be integrated into the normal flow of life so that waking, sleeping, walking, driving and eating all become gymnasiums for healing.
To learn more about self-healing through mindfulness training, watch the video below or check out Dr. Kaparo’s website, SomaticLearning.com.
Featured Image By Ironstove at en.wikipedia [Attribution], from Wikimedia Commons