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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Relaxation and our genes

Breaking news via Dr. Roger Jahnke of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (whom I'm proud to claim as one of my qigong teachers): A study published just last month by pioneering cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson found that the relaxation response induced by qigong, meditation, and similar modalities actually affects the genes of short-term and long-term practitioners alike.

Jahnke also reviews two other recent studies on the same topic in his article "The Benefits of Mind-Body Practice by Investigating Genetic Expression."

"For hundreds of years Western medicine has looked at mind and body as totally separate entities, to the point where saying something 'is all in your head' implied that it was imaginary," says Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-senior author of the groundbreaking research report. "Now we've found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented."

The Washington Post picked up the story in July, but we missed it. Thanks, Dr. Jahnke, for letting us know about it.

Here is a link to the research article itself, published in the journal PLoS ONE.

While Reiki is not specifically mentioned and was not studied by the researchers, it is similar to the practices that were studied.

Dr. Benson first identified the relaxation response 35 years ago.


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