How Meditation Can Change Your Genetic Expression
Having worked in the DNA testing industry for several years, I was privileged to meet some of the world leading scientists and experts in the field.
Genetics has grown exponentially since the discovery of DNA in 1953. And even more since the Human Genome Project in 2003, which completed for the first time in history the entire human DNA reading. Results were quite underwhelming compared to scientists’ expectations, but investments and advances in technology allowed a proliferation of further research.
My personal involvement with genetics has been in the health and fitness industry, in particular sport genetics and nutrigenetics. These areas of genetics are concerned more with preventative health, rather than diagnosis of medical conditions. It is not a medical tool, rather an insight about what lifestyle interventions can be beneficial based on your individual genetic make-up. It is an emerging science and still in its infancy. So do not get too excited and be wary of bold statements that many companies make to push their agenda based on pure commercial interests. However, if you are really serious about your health and wellbeing, there is no harm in investing some money and get your DNA analysed. By understanding your individual genetic make-up, you can manipulate the environment to play according to your genes.
Epigenetics is the latest fascinating branch of genetic research and it studies the effects of the environment over your DNA. It promises to overturn the “primacy of DNA” paradigm, showing that DNA does not determine who you are. This means, for example, that you may have the gene variant that predisposes you to obesity; but this “obesity gene” may never express itself, unless triggered by the environment (i.e. nutrition and lifestyle). Essentially it is your lifestyle which determines your health, not vice-versa.
This is quite significant because it shifts the focus from genetics to environment and lifestyle choices. Also it is very empowering because you cannot change your genes but you can definitely modify your lifestyle. Whatever your genetic predispositions are, it is how you live, what you eat, what you think, what you do on a daily basis, your habits and emotions, which shape your body and mind. And you have total control over these variables.
Interestingly, an important and ever growing body of scientific evidence, shows that meditation influences genetic expression. For example, meditation favours the expression of genes involved in the relaxation response and inhibits the expression of genes which regulate stress. Other studies show that meditation increases level of telomerase, responsible for the biological age, meaning that meditation has anti-aging effect.
This is quite remarkable and opens up a huge opportunity for the scientific and medical community to change direction. Instead of investing so much money, time and energy into drug treatment and genetic manipulation, why not concentrating on education about improving the environment and lifestyle? It is becoming more and more evident that the vast majority of medical conditions are a direct result of poor lifestyle choices.
In addition, genetic expression patterns can be transmitted across generations without changing the DNA sequence. This has huge potentiality for the future of humanity. If people cultivate peace, kindness, compassion, love and meditation, the benefit of genetic activity resulting from positive emotions can be passed on to the offspring, thus laying the foundations for a more loving and peaceful world.
When you meditate, you are not just doing a favour to yourself but to the whole world.