Monday, September 05, 2016

Meditation or Vacation, what is better?

[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 antiviral activity.
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 experience.
Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis, comparing gene expression networks across all three groups of participants and finding unique molecular profiles and pathway enrichment patterns.
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