A lot of people think, "Well, I am who I am; it's in my DNA." You may be resigned to the fact that Dad was a type A personality and so are you. Or Mom was overweight, and now you're getting heavier every year. But even 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln figured out that "Every man over 40 is responsible for his own face." He knew, maybe not scientifically but intuitively, that there are some things about your looks, your health and your inner self that are a result of how you live, that your choices shape your life and your face. A study now confirms that.
Scientists wanted to see what happens to your genetic makeup when you relax deeply, so they tracked the changes it makes in the expression (we don't mean smiley faces) of almost all of your more than 22,000 genes. You see, environmental influences can activate them or turn them off. And the researchers discovered genes linked to the immune system, energy metabolism and the secretion of insulin are immediately affected (they change their expression, from unhappy to happy) when you practice progressive relaxation or mindfulness.
Seems mitochondria (the power-producing energy centers of cells) get a boost, as do their supporting pathways. The result? Cell pathways that are conduits for stress, cancer, trauma and inflammation are suppressed. That's how relaxation therapy defends you from disease and keeps you lookin' good.