Meditation V/S Vacation : Which one is a better stress buster?
Biological impact of meditation
Meditation V/S Vacation : Which one is a better stress buster?:- Researchers have been using some rigorous study design in order to assess the biological impact of meditation when compared to going on a vacation.
While, examining the effect of meditation on gene expression patterns in both the novice and regular meditators, they had found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on the molecular networks associated with our stress and immune pathways, in addition to some short- term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and also distress.
A meditation retreat for those, who have already used meditation regularly, was associated with molecular networks which were characterized by antiviral activity.
The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers.
How was the study conducted?
The study had involved 94 healthy women, who were aged 30-60. Sixty-four women were also recruited who were not regular meditators.
Participants stayed at the same resort in California for a period of six days, and randomized so that half were simply on the vacation while the other half joined a meditation training program for Well Being.
The meditation program have included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and also self reflection exercises.
For greater insight into the long-term effects of what the scientists have dubbed the “meditation effect” compared to the “vacation effect,” the team also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators who have already enrolled in the retreat that week.
Researchers collected blood samples, and surveys, from all the participants immediately before and after their stay, as well as surveys one month and ten months later.
The research team examined these changes in 20,000 genes in order to determine which types of genes were changing before and after the resort experience.
Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis, comparing the gene expression networks across all three groups of participants and finding the unique molecular profiles and pathway enrichment patterns.
Study results show that all groups, novice meditators, experienced meditators, and vacationers had significant changes in the 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 the stress response and immune function.
Researchers have also assessed self-reported measures of well being.
While all the groups showed improvements up to one month later, the novice meditators had some fewer symptoms of depression and less stress much longer than the non-meditating vacationers.
The psychological effects appear to be much enduring and it is unknown how much of this longer lasting benefit may be due to the continued practice or lasting changes in how people view events in their lives.