I just had another birthday, and people keep telling me how great I look, and that I haven't changed in years. (Gotta love that!) Ever wonder why it is that some of us "age well" why others seem to show signs of age pretty rapidly? I know I've thought about it a lot. Oh yeah, at some point we all buy the creams and lotions. And some will go for the fillers and the laser treatments and perhaps a face lift. Even my friends living in the mountains of New Mexico have their favorite creams and beauty rituals. But the fact is that for some of us, it seems to work better than for others. Is it the creams? The laser treatments? The Botox?
The truth is that while all of those might help for a while, they aren't really getting at the heart of what makes us age. It seems that we have these little "clocks" in our bodies called telomeres, and what happens to them plays a BIG role in the aging process. These little things are like the ends of shoelaces - that plastic part that keeps your laces from fraying. When we're young, they're pretty long - like they came off a high-end athletic shoe. But as time goes by, these telomeres get shorter and shorter, and as they do, we begin to show signs of aging. So the real question is - how do we slow down the shortening of our telomeres?
Without getting into all the details, one BIG component has to do with how we manage stress. Seems that chronic stress - which is something over 90% of us suffer from - will age you faster than when you forget to put on sunblock. According to Elizabeth Blackburn - who won a Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres - our bodies - and particularly our telomeres - are listening to our thoughts. It seems that we we think that our situation is really stressful, our telomeres get shorter. No matter what that stress is - whether it's a toothache that's gone on for months or your doctor calling and telling you to come in because they need to talk with you after they've gotten the results back from a test - if our reaction to what's happening is to contract, to tighten up, to feel our heart racing, perhaps....we are shortening our lives.
Does this mean that all stress is bad? No, actually it isn't. We actually need some stress in our lives in order to move forward. Without something pressing on us, we'd be tempted to move into a rut and furnish it. But repetitive stress, or a particular situation which we think of as stressful and which doesn't change over time, that is what will lead to a shortening of our telomeres, and therefore our lives. And the situation doesn't really have to be even an 8 on a scale of 1-10 to age us.... we just have to think it is.
So what to do about it? Well, if you're new to my blog you might not know what's coming, but if you've read some of my posts, you know what I'm going to say. Yep. Sound healing and meditation. These things have been shown over and over again to change the brain chemistry from the chemicals of stress to the chemicals of peace. I'm not saying that you need to turn into a Buddhist monk in order to live long. Even 5 minutes a day of some form of meditation will help. Like someone said today, "If you've got time for Facebook, you've got time to meditate."
So do you meditate - at all? Ever? No blame here - I've gone in and out of it too. But I'm curious to know if you make it a regular practice, and if so, have you noticed a difference in your life? Leave a comment below and let us know. I'm sure there are others who would love to know that they're not the "bad" one for not meditating....or that they've also noticed the difference when they do. I can tell you that I have just recently started again after a hiatus, and it's kind of like running into an old love you haven't seen in a while....it put a smile on my face and made me feel like I was 30 again!
Toni Narins is a licensed acupuncturist, sound healer and author with over 30 years experience in the science and art of heaing. Her approach addresses the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of imbalances