The results of a study on 60 meditators show improved performance and attention but also changes on chromosomal level

In the Huffington Post, that marvelously intelligent publication, I read about the Shamatha Project which apparently is “one of the most rigorous scientific examinations of meditation’s effects ever undertaken.”

Meditators on Eagle's Rock

The Shambala Mountain Center in Colorado, which has being offering meditation retreats and trainings for forty years, became also a scientific laboratory three years ago. Under the direction of Clifford Saron, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Davis, 60 experienced meditators who ranged from 21 to 70 years old enrolled in a three months study on the impact of meditation.

One of the results was that – not surprisingly – visual performance and attention improved through meditation, yet unexpectedly it was found that intense meditation may also have anti-aging effects. Early findings show that it appears that meditation delivers benefits that reach all the way to the chromosomal level.

Meanwhile, Tonya Jacobs, a scientist at UC Davis’s Center for Mind and Brain, writes (on-line in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology) that “meditators show improved psychological well-being, and that these improvements lead to biochemical changes associated with resistance to aging at the cellular level. Specifically, an analysis of meditators’ white blood cells showed a 30 percent increase in an enzyme called telomerase, a chemical essential to the long-term health of the body’s chromosomes and cells.”

The scientists emphasize that meditation does not lead directly to cellular health and longevity. Instead, the practice appears to give people an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life, which in turn leads to an increased sense of control over their lives and to less negative emotion. This cascade of emotional and psychological changes is what regulates the levels of telomerase, the anti-aging enzyme.

Osho naturally knew about this. In a very early and riveting discourse in Hindi about meditation he says,

“…The practice of meditation, the meditation that I teach, will have any number of physiological results. Many physical diseases can disappear, longevity can increase and many chemical changes can take place in the body. Numerous glands of the body that are at the moment as good as dead, can be activated.

We have no idea what the psychologists now say, even the physiologists say, about anger. When one is angry, they say, a particular kind of poison is released in the body. But up to now they have not been able to know what it is that happens in the case of love. As in anger, a special kind of poison is released, so in love a special kind of nectar is released in the body. But because love is a rare phenomenon in our world, a loving man has yet to visit a scientist’s lab. That is why he has not been able to detect it. If meditation has its full impact, the body begins to secrete nectar or ambrosia which symbolizes immortality.

Meditation has really deep chemical effects on the body. Those who go deep into meditation begin to see extraordinary colors, smell uncommon perfumes and hear unheard of sounds. Extraordinary waves of light and sound begin to flow through them. These are all chemical effects of meditation. You will see such fantastic colors as you have never seen. In fact, the whole chemistry of the body undergoes a sea-change. The body begins to perceive, think and understand things in a different way altogether. All the electric circuits of the body change.

Just as a good deal happens at the level of the body, so also a great deal happens at the level of the mind, too. But these are matters of detail, and I will talk to the questioner about it separately.

The possibilities are really great.

excerpt Osho, In Search of the Miraculous, Vol. 1, Ch 6, Q 5

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