Science has proved that there is truth to the "reset button," with evidence that vacation and meditation help improve immune function and psychological wellness. To further that finding, they discovered that meditation helps its practitioners be healthier longer.
Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard Medical School examined the biological effects of meditation and vacation and published their findings in Springer Nature’s journal Translational Psychiatry. The study involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60, with 64 not regular meditators and 30 being 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 run by the Chopra Center for Well Being. The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self reflection exercises. It was designed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., who did not participate in data collection or analysis.
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. 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.
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. Researchers assessed self-reported measures of well-being. While all groups showed improvements up to one month later, the novice meditators had fewer symptoms of depression and less stress much longer than the non-meditating vacationers.
The psychological effects appear to be enduring, and it is unknown how much of this longer lasting benefit may be due to continued practice or lasting changes in how people view events in their lives.
Therefore, it was proven that meditation provides both a physical and a psychological improvement. By improving immune function and reducing stress, it may also lead to healthier aging. The researchers have plans to replicate the studies agains an at-home control group.