Power of mind: meditation and aging presented to sceptics
In a conversation recently I was being questioned in valuing the importance of being scientifically educated while simultaneously practicing several aspects that may be summarized as positive psychology: a perspective on psychology striving towards a more complete and balanced understanding of the human experience rather than psychopathology. A contradictory on my part was implied, but can one exclude the other?
In the past decade there seems to be growing appreciation as to what humans may accomplish in health through strength of mind, like meditating. Specifically, in metta meditation wherein focus lies in developing an unselfish kindness and warmth towards all beings without distinction.
(Hoge, et al., 2013) researched the association of metta meditation in regard to the length of telomeres (protein structures). Relatively short telomere length may serve as a marker of accelerated aging, and shorter telomeres have been linked to chronic stress. In this research, individuals with extensive training in metta meditation as well as controls with resembling characteristics lacking this training, were measured for telomere lengths derived from blood levels. Women meditators were seen to have longer telomeres than their controls. The association between metta meditation and longer telomere length was stronger observed in women. It is interestingly speculated that metta meditation leads to greater changes in women because they are able to utilize it better due to inherently greater empathic abilities.
To circle back, the implied contradictory mentioned earlier seems to be absent as concepts like meditation are certainly supported by evidence. However, you may wonder if you are willing to rely on support of evidence as a necessity or requirement to practice any form of positive psychology.
Hanssen, M. (2021). IPN_PSY3385 Positive Psychology Course Manual BA Elective 2021-2022. Opgehaald van Canvas: https://canvas.maastrichtuniversity.nl/courses/8618/assignments/syllabus
Hoge, E. A., Chen, M. M., Orr, E., Metcalf, C. A., Fischer, L. E., Pollack, M. H., . . . Simon, N. M. (2013). Loving-Kindness Meditation practice associated with longer telomeres in women. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 159-163.