Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School, in Boston, tested the effect of vacations and meditation on the genes of 64 women between the ages of 30 and 60 that were novice meditators. They all spent six days at the same resort in California.
Half participated in a meditation program that included yoga, self-reflection exercises and mantra meditation; the other half did not engage in onsite meditation. The researchers also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators already participating in the resort’s meditation program.
Blood sample tests and surveys from all 94 women were conducted at intervals: once right before their stay, once right after, a third one month post-vacation and then 10 months after the trip. All the women displayed significant changes to their molecular network pattern after the six days, with the most substantial genetic changes related to immune function and stress response.
One month after the resort experience, all groups continued to display improvements. However, the novice meditators showed fewer symptoms of depression and stress for a significantly longer period than the women not participating in the meditation exercise.