Meditation, Stress and Cortisol – Exciting Research!

I know there’s been days when you’ve struggled through a meditation or not even got there because your mind was too busy to sit still.   BUT stay with me.  There is some exciting new research on meditation, stress and cortisol that may change your mind about sitting down and closing your eyes (even if just for a few minutes each day). 

The University of California Davis is involved in a long-term study on “the effects of meditation training on mind and body”.  It’s serious business and even has the endorsement of the Dalai Lama!

The Effects of Stress VS The Effects of Meditation

When you feel stressed, whether this is on a physical or emotional level, the adrenal glands produce cortisol (amongst other stress hormones).  While this is good on the occasions when you may need to run from the tiger (ok run from your boss or your ex lover) or react to a near accident, this is not good in the long term.

If your cortisol levels remain too high for too long, there are a host of debilitating physical effects over time, essentially this becomes adrenal fatigue or adrenal dysfunction.

Now – the piece to make you sit your butt down and breathe or stay present to what you’re doing, DRUM ROLL PLEASE …………………….. 
bring in the study on the effects of mindfulness meditation and the ability to lower your cortisol levels. 🙂

In this latest study, research scientists at the University of California Davis used a questionnaire relating to mindfulness and also took a measurement of cortisol levels in the saliva of the volunteers.  This was done before and after a 3 month meditation retreat where they received training on mindfulness techniques.

Tonya Jacobs, a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain explained that “this is the first study to show a direct relation between resting cortisol and scores on any type of mindfulness scale”.

The Findings

  • There was a correlation between low cortisol levels and a high mindfulness score both before and after the retreat.
  • The more an individual reported that they were able to stay present to the task at hand, the lower their resting cortisol levels were.

And if that’s not enough already to make you want to come out of high cortisol and back into healthy resting cortisol, take this on board

  • Jacobs suggests that “training the mind to focus on immediate experience may reduce the propensity to ruminate about the past or worry about the future, thought processes that have been linked to cortisol release”.

All in all, these are really positive results.  And while much of this has been predicted by others involved in meditation and mindfulness studies, there is now some data to show the changes in cortisol levels in relation to mindfulness techniques.

You can find the full article here.

For a few ideas on mindfulness, slowing down and cortisol, check out these posts below.

Where is the Sound of Silence?    5 Tips on How to Relieve Stress in 2 Minutes   Stress and Cortisol: 10 Simple Must Knows






Take care and know that there is never a better time than now to spend some mindful time each day.

Happy Meditating
Lisa  xo

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