Two weeks ago on my Birthday, I decided to go to a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I have to say, it was one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. On day number five, I started questioning the sanity of my decision to celebrate my birthday with a 10-day meditation retreat in silence! What was I thinking? I mean I could have gone on a nice 10-day vacation to Europe or a tropical island instead! I marched on forward because I had decided giving up was not an option. I completed the ten days and found this experience to be one of the most insightful and rewarding experiences in my life!
If you are already my client, you know that before I recommend or bring any procedure, product or technique into my practice, I test it on myself. Yes, I am my own guinea pig. As for meditation, I have been testing this on myself for the past one and half years, and have grown to love it more and more!
Why you ask?
Well here are some of the Anti-aging benefits that I have derived from a daily meditation practice:
- Better Sleep
- Less Stress
- Less Reactivity to challenging situations
- Overall feeling of happiness and peace
- Benefits at the biochemical and molecular/genetic level (see below for more details)
What is the science behind some of the anti-aging effects on the skin via meditation?
So let’s start with a few basics that I have already emphasized in the past. One of the major causes of aging skin, acne, and other skin disorders is stress including stress on the body from lack of sleep. Remember when your body is under stress, it increases the levels of a hormone called cortisol that wreaks havoc on your skin! It damages collagen resulting in more wrinkles and sagging skin, and causes an inflammatory response that can result in under-eye puffiness, acne breakouts, increased skin sensitivity, increased allergic contact dermatitis reactions, and conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Meditation can decrease cortisol levels
A study published in Journal of Health Psychology in 2013 by Tonya Jacobs reported that there Is a decrease in cortisol level with an increase in reported mindfulness after a 3 month period of daily meditation.
Another study published in the Journal of Medical Association Thailand in 2013 bySrinakharinwirot University demonstrated a significant decrease in cortisol levels of medical students after a 4 day mindfulness mediation program.
What is the science behind some of the anti-aging benefits on the brain and body via meditation?
Let’s first talk about telomeres that were discovered by Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. Telomeres are protective caps at the end of your chromosomes that signify signs of aging as they shorten. Therefore, the shorter the caps (telomeres), the more likely you are to age and develop age-related diseases such as heart disease, obesity, cancer stroke, diabetes, etc.
Meditation has been shown to increase the lengths of telomeres via increased activity in telomerase- an enzyme that can rebuild and lengthen telomeres and therefore prevent the aging process!
A study at UC-Davis led by Tonya Jacobs as lead author and Elizabeth
blackburn, published on Oct. 29 2010 in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology measured telomerase activity in participants in the study after a three-month meditation retreat. They found telomerase activity was about one-third higher in participants who had completed the retreat.
Meditation can improve cognitive function
Recenlty, in Jan. 2015, another study published in Frontiers in Psychology showed the brain scans of meditators had an increased amount of grey matter compared to they counterparts. Grey matter correlates with one’s cognitive function. As we age or as a result of increased exposure to prolonged stress, our cognitive function goes down thus resulting in things such as poor memory.
There are a number of other studies that have been done and are currently being conducted to show how meditation can have many other benefits, but I do not want to overwhelm you with more scientific data. I just want you to understand how important it is.
I am not suggesting you have to spend 10 days at a meditation retreat, but I am suggesting even if you meditated 3-5 mins/day, it can benefit you in so many ways.
I am often asked…what is your secret to looking 10 years younger than you actually are?
I say some of it is genetic, some maintenance, and a lot of it is a lifestyle that includes good nutrition, exercise and meditation!
I am a fond believer in doing what we can to prevent the aging process through good skin care and some non-invasive cosmetic procedures, but I can’t emphasize the importance of feeling as good as you look through a healthy lifestyle!
“YES! HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I’ve been doing treatments for about 10 years. I’ve tried numerous doctors, registered nurses and Aestheticians for treatments within that time. I will look no further after meeting Dr. Chugh. I can’t say enough good things about my experiences at Anand. Making an appointment is easy, and I didn’t have to wait long upon arrival. Dr. Chugh took the time to talk with me and get to know me. I felt comfortable with her in regards to asking questions. She doesn’t try to sell you products or procedures. She is honest and genuinely wants her clients to look and feel better inside and out. My first appointment was on a Wednesday. I went out with my girlfriends that Friday and each one of them asked what I was doing bc they said I looked incredible. Thanks to her, I look better than I have in years and I feel better about myself too. Dr. Chugh is THE BEST!” — Jessica O.
About the Author:Dr. Sunanda Chugh is the Founder and Medical Director of Anand Medical Spa and has been practicing in NYC since 2004. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has completed her training at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chugh has worked and trained with top Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in NYC. Her special interest on the effect of the aging process on the face and body inspired her to specialize in Aesthetic Medicine.