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13.07.2015

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Californian researchers have discovered a link between the positive psychological changes which occur as a result of meditation and greater telomerase activity. Positive psychological changes that occur during meditation training are associated with greater telomerase activity, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, San Francisco. The effect appears to be attributable to psychological changes that increase a person’s ability to cope with stress and maintain feelings of well-being.
The research team measured telomerase activity in participants in the Shamatha Project at the end of a three-month intensive meditation retreat. Using statistical modeling techniques, the researchers concluded that high telomerase activity was due to the beneficial effects of meditation on perceived control and neuroticism, which in turn were due to changes in mindfulness and sense of purpose. The Shamatha Project is the most comprehensive longitudinal study of intensive meditation yet undertaken.
The intensive meditation retreat took place at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colo.


A control group of 30 people matched for age, sex, education, ethnicity and meditation experience was assessed at the same time and in the same place, but did not otherwise attend meditation training at that time. The group’s next research article, currently in press in the journal Emotion, will describe a meditation-related reduction in impulsive reactions, which was linked in turn to enhancement in positive psychological functioning. Research suggests meditation training can promote better cellular health as well as positive psychological outcomes. The study is the first to link positive well-being to higher telomerase, an enzyme important for the long-term health of cells in the body. Other studies suggest that telomerase activity may be a link between psychological stress and physical health. In a paper published this summer in Psychological Science, Katherine MacLean, a recent UC Davis Ph.D.
Additionally, participants within the study attained numerous psychological benefits from meditation training, while decreasing negative emotionality.


It is a product of the UC Davis-based Shamatha Project, led by Saron, one of the first long-term, detailed, matched control-group studies of the effects of intensive meditation training on mind and body. Participants received ongoing instruction in meditation techniques from Buddhist scholar, author and teacher B. They attended group meditation sessions twice a day and engaged in individual practice for about six hours a day.



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