Indian Panorama News] Researchers have been using a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation as compared to going on a vacation.
Examining the effect of meditation on gene expression patterns in
both novice and regular meditators, they found that a resort vacation
provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated
with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short- term improvements
in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress.
A meditation retreat for those, who already used meditation
regularly, was associated with molecular networks characterized by
The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers.
The study involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60. Sixty-four women were recruited who were not regular meditators.
Participants stayed at the same resort in California for six days,
and randomized so that half were simply on vacation while the other half
joined a meditation training program for Well Being.
The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self reflection exercises.
For greater insight into the long-term effects of what scientists dubbed the
“meditation effect” compared to the “vacation effect,” the team also studied a group of 30 experienced
meditators who were already enrolled in the retreat that week.
Researchers collected blood samples, and surveys, from all
participants immediately before and after their stay, as well as surveys
one month and ten months later.
Eric Schadt, the senior author said, “In the spirit of other research
efforts we have pioneered with other groups, this work underscores the
importance of studies focused on healthy people. By combining an
interrogation of gene networks with advanced data analysis and
statistics, we have generated clinically meaningful information about
stress and aging that is relevant to the broader population.”
The research team examined the changes in 20,000 genes to determine
which types of genes were changing before and after the resort
Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis,
comparing gene expression networks across all three groups of
participants and finding unique molecular profiles and pathway
Study results show that all groups, novice meditators, experienced
meditators, and vacationers had significant changes in molecular network
patterns after the week at the resort, with a clear signature
distinguishing baseline from post-vacation biology.
The most notable changes in gene activity were related to stress response and immune function. Read More