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Turning Back The Hands Of Time February 25, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness.

Even if we can’t literally turn back the hands of time, might we erase the ravages of age by the thoughts we think?

In Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra summarizes a growing body of evidence which supports the conclusion that we can reverse certain signs of aging through application of mindful awareness.

One experiment involved “inner time travel” with elderly participants invited to a retreat where nothing published after 1959 would be admitted . . .

In 1979, Ellen Langer and colleagues at Harvard effectively reversed the biological age of a group of old men by a simple but ingenious shift in awareness.

The subjects, all 75 or older and in good health, were invited to a country resort for a week-long retreat.  They were not allowed to bring any newspapers, magazines, books, or family photos dated later than 1959.

The resort, set up to duplicate life twenty years earlier, included issues of Life and the Saturday Evening Post from 1959.  In keeping with the flashback, the only music played was 20 years old.

Subjects used 1959 as their “present tense” ~ “I wonder if President Eisenhower will go with Nixon next election?”

The research team made extensive measurements of the subjects’ biological age before and after the study, including markers such as physical strength, posture, perception, cognition, and short-term memory.

The premise of the experiment was that seeing oneself as old or young directly influences the aging process.

The results of this play-acting were remarkable.   Compared to a control group that went on the retreat but continued to live in the world of 1979:

* The subjects improved in memory and manual dexterity.  They became more active and self-sufficient.

* Impartial judges asked to study before-and-after pictures detected that the men’s faces looked visibly younger . . . by an average of three years.

* Measurements of finger length, which tends to shorten with age, indicated that their fingers had lengthened.

* Stiffened joints were more flexible.  Posture started to straighten as it had in younger years.  Muscle strength, measured by hand grip, improved, as did hearing and vision.

Professor Langer’s landmark study established that so-called irreversible signs of aging could be reversed using psychological intervention.

Source: Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, pp. 92-94 

In another “anti-aging” experiment, geriatric nursing home patients started a weight-lifting program with remarkable results . . . to learn more, tune in tomorrow!

In the meantime, enjoy some inner time travel and turn back the hands of time.

Aah . . . that’s better!

* * * * *

Suzicate has pressed PUBLISH on her book ~ Stepping Into The Wilderness.  It’s available from Amazon in Paperback or Kindle.

Or you can take your chances and enter to WIN a FREE copy!

Leave a comment on her most recent post, Here’s A Piece For Inquiring Minds, and you’ll be entered into Wednesday’s drawing.

* * * * *

Col is running a Caption Competition!   Think of a winning caption for his FUN and FUNNY photo and post it in the comment thread on his Blog.


1. Don - February 25, 2013

Absolutely fascinating.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

Isn’t it? I’m going to spend the day listening to Classic Rock from my college days . . . so that I can turn back the hands of time!

Don - February 25, 2013

You do that Nancy. I was wondering what you do with all the wisdom the years have given you when you go back to those days. Do you drop it for a while and take on all the wildness of youth, or do you go back with it and become a kind of a fuddy duddy? I think I’ll drop it for a while and pick it up on my way back.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I think I’ll do a bit of both . . . wild wisdom, it is! 😀

2. aawwa - February 25, 2013

Sounds interesting. I saw a BBC documentary that did an experiment along similar lines with many remarkable results.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

This landmark study was conducted in 1979 ~ 34 years ago. I’m sure that many studies have been conducted since then.

I’m going to attempt to replicate the results of this study by using quantum math to calculate the present year:

2013 – 20 years = 1993! Yay! 😀

aawwa - February 25, 2013


3. ryoko861 - February 25, 2013

This is the second blog post I’ve read about “slowing down time”. That’s really remarkable though! Even though they knew future events past 1959, they were still able to put themselves back in that time period. And feel younger, literally!

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

Our cells are ALWAYS eavesdropping on our thoughts and internalizing the messages we’re sending.

* If our thoughts project feeling old, tired, and decrepit, our cells respond accordingly . . . by aging.

* If our thoughts project youthful vim and vigor, our cells hear that message as well and start to turn back the hands of time.

We are only as old as the thoughts that we think!

4. sweetdaysundertheoaks - February 25, 2013

Not surprised at all! Very interesting study.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I wish I’d read this book 20 years ago . . . oh, wait, doing the quantum math, I just did!

2013 – 20 = 1993.

Yay! Inner Time Travel is GRAND.

5. Booksphotographsandartwork - February 25, 2013

Interesting idea but I find that so many older people are already living in the past so much that it is a stumbling block to their enjoying the here and now. They simply won’t or can’t give up the past to make way for the future. Things that would make their life easier and better. If we don’t move forward then we are stuck in the mud. That’s what I liked about Shirely McClaines character in Downtown Abby, she was more than willing to change with the times and keep up! She was keeping herself young, vital and interesting.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I had the same thought and then realized they weren’t “living in the past,” they were creating NEW experiences in 1979 . . . talking, laughing, singing, eating, and playing.

That’s the key . . . LIVE today, but LIVE as if you were 20 years younger. 😀

6. Three Well Beings - February 25, 2013

This really interests me, Nancy! I would enjoy reading this book–I like Chopra anyway! 🙂 I am completely onboard with how our thoughts influence our sense of well-being but this is a very different angle from anything I’ve previously studied. I’m so intrigued! Thank you for the new direction!

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

That’s exactly how I feel ~ figuring out ways to apply this information is so intriguing. The study makes sense to me based on my own personal experiences and what I’ve observed in others.

If I’m enthusiastic about what I’m doing (e.g., playing games with my nieces), I feel MUCH younger than my chronological years. Likewise, if I’m feeling less enthusiastic, I can feel positively ancient.

I shall strive for more of the former and less of the latter and watch the years melt away from my countenance.

7. suzicate - February 25, 2013

I think I was first introduced to Deepak Chopra with the book Quantum Healing and always take good info from all he writes,
Thanks for the shout out, Nancy!

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I bought this book at the Library Book Sale last year . . . and never opened it. Selecting books to donate for this year’s book sale caused me to start flipping through it. It’s fascinating stuff.

Great idea for a book promotion contest! I’ll include the same shout out on tomorrow’s post. Best of luck with book sales!

8. ericjbaker - February 25, 2013

This study discriminates against people who weren’t born until after 1959!


nrhatch - February 25, 2013

Just think how much TIME you have left in comparison to us aging boomers! 😀

9. Tom (Aquatom1968) - February 25, 2013

Very interesting, Nancy… I love the workings of the mind, and especially anything that helps us to feel better! I think I shall have to check this book out for further investigation! My ideal time would be somewhere in the 1980s; ’88 onwards…

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I’m conducting my own experiment. Playing music from decades ago while exercising. I feel YOUNGER already. 😀

And HAPPIER too!

10. Andra Watkins - February 25, 2013

Since I am now reading a book that was published in 1942, I am turning back time to when I was a gleam in someone’s eye. Ha. But, I agree with this premise, Nancy. I enjoy thinking about things that made me feel good at the time.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I’m not surprised that they felt better during the experiment . . . but it wowed me that objective measurements like finger length changed after just a week of “inner time travel.”

I’m going to do some inner time travel every day for a month and see what happens.

11. kateshrewsday - February 25, 2013

Really interesting. I’d love to read the study itself.

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

You might be able to find it (or a more detailed summary) by googling “Ellen Langer” and aging.

kateshrewsday - February 26, 2013

Thanks, I’ll give it a go.

12. spilledinkguy - February 25, 2013

Very interesting…
and even more-so considering I feel like I could have been used for the ‘aged’ control group!

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

Haha! If you were 75 in 1979, you would now be 109. And if you are 109, you are already doing something right. :mrgreen:

13. diannegray - February 25, 2013

This is great Nancy. I’ve been meditating for years and ‘turning my internal aging clock back’ – until now I thought it was my secret but obviously not. It actually works! 😀

nrhatch - February 25, 2013

I feel the same, Dianne. It’s impossible to waste time meditating given the return on investment.

In fact, by reducing hormonal imbalance associated with stress, the aging process is reversed. And long time meditators can have a biological age between 5 and 12 years younger than their chronological age. (Ageless Body, Timeless Mind., p. 32)

14. Perfecting Motherhood - February 26, 2013

I’ve read about that same experiment in another book, but I can’t remember which one. So, if you listen to classical music, how many years can you go back?

colonialist - February 26, 2013

That is a good question! Particularly if one is into Gregorian chants!

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

It’s not the age of the music that matters . . . its the age you were when you first heard it. Especially if it brings back positive associations and youthful feelings. 😀

Perfecting Motherhood - February 26, 2013

I was a teen in the 80s and that’s when some of the worst music came out, so I think listening to it would just be detrimental to my mental and physical health!

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

Well, you’re young enough not to even WANT to turn back the hands of time, right? Maybe what you’re listening to NOW will erase the years for you . . . 20 years from NOW.

Perfecting Motherhood - February 26, 2013

That’s probably true! Especially because my kids are the ones controlling the radio at home and seeing them enjoying the music and dancing is definitely a memory I want to keep.

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

There ya go! Just Make Memories! 😀

15. colonialist - February 26, 2013

I just wonder about how this applies to seventy-something-year-olds with minds at seven or so?
Thanks for the caption punt! Love your entry!

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

These test subjects were in their 70’s and benefited from a single week’s retreat . . . imagine how much we could all benefit from thinking YOUNGER thoughts every day.

If you’ve got the mind of a seven year old, you’re all set. :mrgreen:

colonialist - February 26, 2013

Oh, goody goody gooseberry drops!

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

Huzzah! 😀

16. viviankirkfield - February 26, 2013

Love Deepak Chopra…and this study is fascinating…and makes total sense to me. Thinking positively and doing what you love are other great ways to improve emotional health…which definitely improves physical health. Thanks for a great post, Nancy!

nrhatch - February 26, 2013

Tomorrow’s post focuses a bit more on positive thinking. And, if I finish it, Thursday’s post will address the powerful benefits of meditation on the Mind-Body Connection.

viviankirkfield - February 27, 2013

Thanks, Nancy..you are a prolific and talented writer…I love your posts.:)

nrhatch - February 27, 2013

Thanks, Vivian! Here’s to honoring that fine line between “prolific” and “verbose.” 😆

17. Grannymar - February 27, 2013

I use music from my past for exercise, but it cannot be tied to any particular year. Nancy, you mention three dates, I remember all of them.
1979 – Two years into marriage with a one year old baby so that was fun and the one with happiest memories.

nrhatch - February 27, 2013

That IS FUN. Babies and Toddlers (and Pets) fill us with LIFE and LAUGHTER!

18. Pocket Perspectives - February 27, 2013

Nancy, that is amazing!

nrhatch - February 27, 2013

Tonight, let’s party like it’s 1993!!! Woo Hoo! 😀

19. jannatwrites - February 27, 2013

That’s an interesting study. So, I just got my hair cut like I did twenty years ago…I wonder if it’ll reverse my aging? 😀

Seriously though, I majored in psychology in college, so of course I’m fascinated by how our mind/outlook can affect both our mental and physical states.

P.S. Had to laugh at your comment about partying like it’s 1993. Too bad I wasn’t partying – I was too busy studying 😦

nrhatch - February 27, 2013

Your “retro haircut” is sure to trim a few years off your biological age IF you stare deeply into the bathroom mirror (at each and every opportunity) while chanting:

Mirror, Mirror on the wall . . . who’s the youngest hippest sassiest lass of all? :mrgreen:

Think YOUNG!

20. shreejacob - February 28, 2013

I’m going to echo everyone else that said that this is such an interesting concept and study!! However, my mind is still stuck in my 20s and my 2 month old shorter hair cut has gotten people telling me I look a little younger! hehe

nrhatch - February 28, 2013

I didn’t have time to focus on staying young when I was in my 20’s and 30’s . . . it wasn’t until I reached my 40’s that I wanted to slow time’s passage. 😎

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