According to experts meditation is a quick and efficient way to lower stress, but new research discovers mindfulness meditation may also reduce loneliness in older adults.

In a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University experts found mindfulness meditation, which a 2,500-year-old practice deriving from Buddha, may reduce loneliness in adults, as well as lower inflammation levels that causes conditions such as cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease.

J. David Creswell, lead study author, and his colleagues monitored 40 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 85. During the initial and follow-up phases of the study, each person was evaluated with the help of a loneliness scale, and blood samples were collected. Each subject was either randomly instructed to participate in the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or no treatment. The MBSR program entailed weekly two-hour meetings, where participants learned body awareness techniques, became mindful of sensations and working on breathing and worked their way toward understanding how to mindfully attend to their emotions and day-to-day routines.

Following the eight-week program, results demonstrated mindfulness training reduced the participants' loneliness. Prior to the MBSR program blood samples displayed elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in their immune cells, following the training Creswell found the training reduced the pro-inflammatory gene expression, in addition to measure of C - reactive protein (CRP).

According to Steven Cole, professor of medicine and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA School of Medicine, though the gene expression changes were not directly monitored the results offered some form of indication that immune cell gene expression profiles may be modified with psychological involvement.

Thus, reductions in inflammatory-related genes are essential, because of the many health risks associated with inflammation.

For those interested in trying mindfulness meditation Creswell states, "If you're interested in using mindfulness meditation, find an instructor in your city. It's important to train your mind like you train your biceps in the gym."

This study was published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.