Molecules of Silence. Effects of meditation on gene expression and epigenetics
Many studies have consistently demonstrated an epigenetic link between environmental stimuli and physiological as well as cognitive responses.
Epigenetic mechanisms represent a way to regulate gene activity in real time without modifying the DNA sequence, thus allowing the genome to adapt its functions to changing environmental contexts. Factors such as lifestyle, behavior, and the practice of sitting and moving mindful activities have been shown to be important means of environmental enrichment. Such practices, which include mindfulness meditation, Vipassana, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Quadrato Motor Training, have been reported to positively impact well-being. In fact, they can be considered emotional and attentional regulatory activities which, by inducing a state of greater inner silence, allow the development of increased self-awareness. Inner silence can therefore be considered a powerful tool to counteract the negative effects of overabundant environmental noise, thanks to its power to relieve stress-related symptoms. Since all these positive outcomes rely on physiological and biochemical activities, the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms influenced by different mindful practices have recently started to be investigated. Here we review some of the findings that could allow us to uncover the mechanisms by which specific practices influence well-being. .
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