Tuesday, September 17, 2013

William Blake, and lengthened Telomeres


Dean Ornish looked at Blackburn’s research showing that the shortening of telomeres, and therefore aging, is accelerated by emotional stress.  He decided to perform a test to see if the reduction of stress could lengthen ones telomeres.  Sure enough the test subject’s telomeres were lengthened.  Shortened telomeres reduces life span ergo lengthened telomeres is sure to increase life span. 

What must one do to get longer telomeres?  Exercise, eat mostly vegetables, and meditate.  There was a disclaimer at the end of the article to the effect that this test wasn’t performed to the highest scientific standards, but the results don’t really disagree with advice our doctors have been giving us for years: get plenty of exercise and don’t eat so much red meat.  The only new thing, at least to me, is the meditation. 

Years ago I was interested in Zen Buddhism and tried to meditate but never managed – it was way too boring.  However I’ve noticed that when I pick up a book and get caught up in the subject it is very relaxing  -- although I feel some stress, because of my Puritan ethic \ Superego which chides me for not doing things that have a practical and valuable objective..   Why don’t I do something useful before it is too late? 

Earlier I read an article by F. R Leavis on Blake, remembered I had Harold Bloom’s The Visionary Company which I set aside after page 35, reread his Preface, noticed he credits Northrup Frye for being his primary “source” or “influence” on the subject of Blake, and since I am very fond of Frye I ordered his Fearful Symmetry.  Normally I would expect loads of guilt for planning to read materials so patently un-useful.  But now, thanks to Ornish I need no longer feel guilty.  I can treat it all as meditation.

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