Researchers in Canada have published a study in the journal Cancer suggesting that our minds and bodies do affect one another.
"We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time, we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology," states lead scientist.
The study found that the protein caps at the end of our chromosomes that denote cellular aging had not diminished in cancer survivors that opted to meditate daily. This draws a clearer mind-body connection than was previously thought.
Stress, anger, depression – unhelpful emotional states – are associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the system that mediates the fight or flight response. When this response gets over-activated by worrying, getting overly angry, anticipating future events or replaying past events, it has long-term cumulative effects.
These effects are measurable right down to the DNA of the cell, accelerating the rate of aging of the DNA, which accelerates the progression of chronic illness.
You can also see the mind-body connection when you study the placebo effect. This happens, for example, when someone is given a pill that they think is going to improve their mood, or relieve pain, but is actually given just a sugar pill.
After taking the pill, and while scanning their brain, the mood or pain regulation centers are seen to activate significantly. There is a neurological response to what the person is experiencing subjectively.
There are many examples of ways our minds and bodies interact. Learning to become more in touch with this connection will help us live longer, healthier lives.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.