I admit, I'm a bit of a geek. I love science. Then again, I also love things that aren't so easily quantified by science- things with a bit of magic in them. Things that are, dare I say, a little bit woo woo. So imagine my delight when science allows us to better understand how certain mind body practices like qigong, taijiquan, yoga, and other forms of meditation actually change our physiology and help us function better. Score one for woo woo.
Earlier this year, scientists at Harvard University released a small study detailing the positive effect of simply clearing one's mind for 15 minutes a day, over an eight-week period, initiating what they referred to as a “relaxation response”. Over half of the study participants saw a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure readings after eight weeks. While this response is great, is not all that surprising and has been previously documented in other studies on meditation and the human stress response.
What was especially astounding with this group was that those who succeeded in initiating the relaxation response for eight weeks saw not only their blood pressure drop, but also a dramatic change in the genetic signature of their bloodwork compared to those who were not able to relax. Put another way, simply being able to achieve a relaxation response actually changed the way over 1000 types of genes turn on and turn off. These were genes that regulate everything from the stress response and inflammation, to circadian rhythms and metabolism. Pretty neat, huh?
I talk a lot in our weekly qigong class about selecting different exercises for building energy or qi, or for circulating energy and cleansing out bad energy. When we do this, when we build and circulate our energy, we are down-regulating genes that support inflammation and up-regulating those that allow our bodies to repair and function optimally. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the bloodwork.
Participants in this study simply listened to a recorded guided meditation to induce a relaxation response. But really there's a lot of ways to induce this, some of which I mentioned above. Why do I select Cosmos Qigong over all the choices available to me? Simple, for my time invested, my health return is phenomenal. In just 15 minutes a day, I can select an exercise that is both highly effective and suited to my health needs. My newest students start to see benefits within a week or two of practicing, some of them almost immediately. They're calmer, they sleep better, they move better, and are more energetic, joyful, and focused.
Curious to see what it's all about? Looking for a new pair of genes? Registration is now open for our fall classes. Come see for yourself. Your genes will thank you.