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Keys to Healthy Aging: Meditation

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There are many things in life that are beyond our control. However, it is possible to take responsibility for our own states of mind – and to change them for the better. Meditation is a means of transforming the mind, and research shows that it offers wonderful benefits for your mental, physical, and emotional health. Best of all, there is no equipment needed, no special training required, and you can start meditating no matter your age or health condition. So, whether you are an older adult looking to improve your well-being or a caregiver looking to reduce stress, meditation may be just what you need!

 

What is Meditation?

While most people equate meditation with Buddhism, people of all faiths and no faith have found benefits in the practice. In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed and inwardly focused. You are fully awake, yet your mind is not fixated on what is happening around you. Simply put, meditation is a way of getting to know your own mind and a tool for tuning out all the ‘chatter’ that continuously fills our brains.

 

What are the Benefits of Meditation?

A growing body of scientific research supports the many benefits of meditation and its potential to add years to our lives and improve cognitive function as we age. The benefits are both physical and mental, says Jeffrey Greeson, PhD, a clinical health psychologist at Duke University who researches meditation and practices it. “And of course mental and physical health are intertwined.” Meditation may:

Lower blood pressure
Reduce inflammation
Reduce anxiety & depression
Improve sleep
Improve circulation
Aid digestion
Boost memory & sharpen focus
Enhance immunity
Increase happiness by stimulating the prefrontal cortex, your brain’s ‘feel good’ region

 

How Do You Meditate?

Meditation is usually practiced in a comfortable seated position. You want to be relaxed but upright, sitting on a pillow or cushion with your legs gently crossed in front of you. If this posture is uncomfortable, you can also sit in a chair or lie down. Eyes can be closed or leave them open and allow your gaze to be relaxed and natural. Start by taking slow deep breaths and cultivate a calm awareness of the present moment. Tune into how you feel and allow any thoughts or emotions that arise to come and go without judging or clinging to them. Focus on your breath and a deep stillness will eventually follow. Congratulations…you are officially meditating!

 

Meditation isn’t a cure-all, but it can help to improve how we feel inside and out. “While we might expect our bodies and brains to follow a shared trajectory of development and degeneration over time, by actively practicing strategies such as meditation, we might actually preserve and protect our physical body and brain structure to extend our golden years and shine even more brightly in old age.”


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Posted on July 31, 2017 by Gina Intoppa in caregivers, in older adults, in seniors, in health, in meditation

Gina Intoppa

Written by Gina Intoppa