Meditation Coming Back -- And Not Just for Baby Boomers

Do you meditate?  I know, I know.  It calls to mind girls with long dirty hair wearing love beads, VW vans and the sharp acrid smell of mj everywhere.  It's what the Baby Boomers thought they discovered.  And now it's being rediscovered by, well, just about everyone, and for a really good reason.

It turns out doing it has actually proven to be good for your health.

According to, it can actually change your genes -- or how they're expressed, or activated.  A new study has found "specific molecular changes in the body after a period of mindful meditation," the Web site reports.

You may also have heard of mindfulness, which can be part of meditation, but we'll get to that later.  

For the study, researchers compared the effects of a day of intensive mindful-meditation in a group of experienced meditators with a group of untrained subjects who enjoyed a day of quiet, non-meditative activities, notes.

"After 8 hours, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes. This correlates with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation," the Web site explains.

"Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression," quotes study author Dr. Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

Now, back to mindfulness.  It's what you're doing when you sit quietly and let thoughts drift across your mind without attending to any of them.  It's hard for many of us, but once you really try, an amazing sense of peace is possible.  

Doctors are now being encouraged to try it -- for a few seconds -- before each patient so that they can really be there, with that patient, for the time they're seeing him, not thinking about the surgery they have to do in an hour, or the patient who didn't have a good "outcome" (love that word! Why can't they just call it what it is, death?!), or the train they have to catch to be home in time for the dinner party.

I've done it (not as much as I should) and once you can get the thoughts out of your head (which you're not supposed to do, just let them come and go, but then I'm a Type A personality), you'll be shocked at what you start noticing.  How good baking bread smells, the warmth of the sun when it hits your face, how good it feels when your dog races to you when you come home and licks your nose (well, maybe not).

It's all about living in the moment, and meditation and mindfulness help you do that.  After all, the moment is all we have.  What's that old homily? The past is history, the future a mystery.  And the present?  A gift.  


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