Saturday, July 21, 2012
Breathing for Life
This letter is from Dr Sears and he reports something rather unusual. It turns out that meditative breathing has a measurable physiological effect on our cells and their telomerase activity. This was totally unexpected and is certainly supported by ample anecdotal evidence related to meditation practitioners that strongly suggest a much longer life span generally. Much of that had been accredited to the superior lifestyle and eating habits.
The take home is to add the breathing discipline to your daily habits. If not meditating, just sit straight and inhale by pushing your abdomen outward thus dropping your diaphragm. Then consciously suck it back in in order to clear your lungs. This is a good exercise. Do it as often as you can, but consciously keep at it whenever you need to breathe. It will not be as often because you will no longer be depending on shallow breathes.
I suspect if we actually did that all day that we would be much the better for it. Yet someone has to teach us this.
July 18, 2012
I’ve always been attracted to the healing practices of the ancients.
It’s why I went to India to track down the original source of the 5,000 year-old tradition of Ayurvedic medicine. My search took me to the southern back-water province of Kerala where transportation was mostly by boat.
At my first stop in Mumbai, I met some traditional healers who led me to the oldest hospital on the planet, the Ayurmana – which means “healing house.”
Every morning, my teacher took me to a quiet area to teach me something called Vedic breathing – a form of meditation. I noticed a difference in how I felt right away. I was more relaxed and my mind was crystal clear.
Most of the early teachings of the ancients claimed breathing could improve a wide variety of health-related conditions including increasing your overall health, energy level, mental capacity, sex life, resistance to disease – even your lifespan.
When I was in medical school, these claims were looked at with more than a little suspicion.
But I always had an instinct there was something really fundamentally beneficial to these breathing techniques. Even if we couldn’t explain it in the terms of western technology.
And today a new piece of the puzzle fell into place. Today I found proof that the ancients were right.
It turns out these ancient breathing techniques alter the tiny “time clocks” that are in every cell of your body.
You see, every cell in your body has one of these time clocks. And every time a cell divides, the internal counter in the clock ticks down. That’s how it keeps track of how old you are.
You may have come across what I’ve written about these time clocks before. We call them telomeres.
Now we know from a study I just learned about from the University of California-Davis, people who practice breathing exercises have longer telomeres than those who don’t.
Pretty simple conclusion, don’t you think?
I’m always most impressed by these kinds of studies. It’s not taking a cell and squirting something from a hypodermic needle on the cell and seeing what happens.
It’s actually measuring real results in real people.
The researchers looked at people who were at a wellness retreat and found that after three months, people doing meditation training had 33 percent higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells than those who weren’t meditating.1
That’s why I’m bringing this to you. Because these people had longer higher telomerase activity means their cells were functioning at a younger age. This is exactly the kind of thing I incorporate into our advice at my anti-aging center.
Remember as the cell counter clicks down it lessens your cell’s abilities to defend itself against the forces of nature like methylation, glycosylation, oxidation and inflammation. The things we used to think caused aging.
Now we know they’re just natural forces. The real cause of aging is the ticking down of your time clocks. If you can get the clocks to reset themselves through meditation, you’re affecting all those other things.
Lo and behold, exactly what the ancients said meditation can do for you.
Here’s a breathing exercise you can do to help you meditate right now, wherever you are:
The first step is to clear your mind. The goal is to get rid of all the excitatory energy your environment is pummeling you with all the time.
The second step is to focus your conscious attention on your breathing. Think about the cadence of your breath, and exclude other thoughts. Constantly re-focus your attention on the breath.
This is the way you train your mind and increase telomerase activity – by constantly clearing your thoughts and re-focusing on your breath. Distractions are going to happen. But you don’t waste any energy over them. You don’t form an opinion on whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Each time it happens, you gently redirect your focus back to your breath.
And each time that happens, you can take a little credit, because you’re gaining more and more control over the process.
Step three is to observe your breathing. Observe how long it takes you to inhale and exhale. Observe the cadence. Where does inhaling stop? Where does exhaling begin? Focus on the change and how it feels to go from inhaling to exhaling.
The fourth step is to elongate the exhalation. This is where you start to exert control over your breathing to help you relax. Make sure you’ve inhaled fully, using your abdomen and lungs. Then, push out all of your breath slowly and fully. This is the part we usually forget, but it’s the most crucial. As you exhale, you will feel yourself relax.
Take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to do this. You can even meditate as you lie in bed at night. It will be time well spent.