In new research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, scientists have shown that loving-kindness meditation has a positive impact at the cellular level. The study examined how different types of meditation influenced telomere length, an indicator of physiological aging.
Telomeres are the end caps of DNA on our chromosomes, which help in DNA replication and get shorter over time.
For their 12-week long study, the researchers recruited 176 participants between 35-64 years old from Durham and Orange County of North Carolina. All of the participants reported having little to no meditation experience.
The participants were randomly assigned to a 6-week loving-kindness meditation workshop, a 6-week mindfulness meditation workshop, or a waitlist control group. To measure telomere length, the researchers collected blood samples from the participants at the beginning and end of the study.
“Chronological age and biological age are not identical. The former is measured in years, whereas the latter is often indexed by telomere length,” the authors of the new study explained. “Telomeres progressively shorten with cell division (i.e., aging) in general, but may also be replenished, or lengthened, by the enzyme telomerase.”