The art of meditation is thousands of years old.
Ancient Buddhists used the practice to search for enlightenment and inner calm. Today, researchers have found that meditation has a wide range of health benefits for everyone. Specifically, it can help seniors with health issues and the overall aging process.
What Exactly is Meditation?
There is nothing mysterious about this ancient practice. It is a means of bringing calm to both your mind and your body by keeping your thoughts in the present - no wallowing about the past or endless anxiety about the future. Meditation keeps you in the here and now.
Meditation and Seniors
Meditation has come far from a search for inner peace to being scientifically accepted as having many health benefits, especially for seniors and their specific stressors. Seniors often face various life changing circumstances from an empty nest, to illness, or losing friends. These stresses can affect ones overall wellbeing. This is where meditation can help.
Prevents Cognitive Decline
Research at UCLA has shown that consistent meditation can help with cognitive decline such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Further, the study found that meditation has positive affects on all part of the brain. The brain, like any other muscle, can weaken with age. Meditation helps seniors think more clearly and strengthen their mental focus muscles.
Meditation Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious health risk for seniors, but measures can be taken to circumvent this. A research study at Ken State University divided subjects into two groups - the first on medication and the second practicing meditation. It was found that meditation reduced blood pressure at a rate nearly identical to the group taking prescription medication. It was also found that meditation as a complement to medication was even more beneficial.
Meditation and Heart Health
Several studies have demonstrated the heart-healthy benefits of meditation. It reduces hypertension and helps reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Meditation and Insomnia
Sleeplessness can be a chronic problem for seniors. Concerns about children, grandchildren, and aging parents can make drifting off to sleep a challenge. A University of Southern California study found that sleep habits improved among seniors following a dedicated meditation program, especially just before going to bed.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety
Meditation stimulates the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the "feel good" part of the mind. Seniors who meditate regularly can find themselves feeling happier and prepared to face life with a renewed and positive outlook. It helps eliminate negative moods and turn them into positive thought patterns.
Meditation Helps with Depression
Feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Seniors face many life-changing events, such as limited mobility, financial challenges, loss of peers, health issues, and upcoming retirement planning. If feelings of depression become overwhelming and uncontrollable, it can have serious negative health effects.
Meditation has been found to decrease negative thinking that accompanies depression.
The effect of meditation on improving our moods can be powerful. Meditation Can Improve Immune System As we age, the immune system tends to function with less vitality leaving seniors more susceptible to disease. Meditating on a regular basis can boost and strengthen the immune system, to function efficiently well into older age.
How To Meditate
There is no secret to successful meditation, it can be done anywhere, in the comfort of your home or even outdoors. Find a comfortable place to sit, such as a chair or park bench.
1. Close your eyes and feel the calm.
2. Begin by relaxing and breathing naturally.
3. Start to focus on your breathing as you slowly inhale and exhale. Feel the breath go deep into your diaphragm. Notice the movement of your chest as you breathe in and breathe out. Notice how your stomach expands and contracts.
4. Make no effort to control your breath; simply breathe naturally.
5. Then, focus your attention on each breath and on how the body moves as you inhale and exhale.
6. Many meditators find that having a mantra - a word or short phrase - helps them maintain their focus. The mantra can be anything, such as a word like "relax" repeated with each inhalation. You can also count each breath.
7. Your mind will wander; that is normal, especially for beginners. Simply push the intruding thought(s) aside without any judgment and continue with your breathing.
It is okay to start with a five to ten-minute daily meditation session and gradually work your way up to half an hour. Quieting the mind and sitting still for a period of time can take getting used to, but the benefits can be immense.
With age comes wisdom. At the same time, many also experience health issues and cognitive decline. Meditation can help slow the process and alleviate or delay many age-related problems. By learning how to refocus the mind, we strengthen our ability to control our thoughts and physiology while helping the body heal, mitigating several physical ailments.
We highly recommend reading "If I Should Die Before I Live" a book on meditations for Seniors to help prime the mind before starting a meditation session,
just go to: https://amzn.to/3gTWvJn Try meditating for yourself today to experience the life changing benefits!
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