Think you’re too old to start meditating? Au contraire! Or maybe that you don’t have enough time? Pish-posh! Or perhaps you have misgivings about it? Well, Wellness Warrior, I’m here to tell you that you’re NOT too old, it doesn’t take long, and it’s time you take a look at some remarkable facts that point to many health benefits.
It’s well-known that unmanaged stress wreaks havoc your body and speeds up the aging process. It weakens the immune system and contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and so much more. Research shows that cutting through the mental noise and focusing your mind through meditation helps alleviate stress and anxiety, slows the aging process, improves your attention span, and can even help you sleep better. And who wouldn’t want help in these areas?
Regular meditation comes with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of particular interest seniors. Here are a few ways meditation can improve your overall health and quality of life:
- Alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression – Research has shown that regular meditation can reduce stress dramatically. Studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin proved that meditation has physiological effects on the brain. For example, researchers found that the part of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety shrinks when meditation is practiced regularly. By focusing on moment-by-moment experiences, meditators train the mind to remain calm, even in stressful situations.
- Improves creativity, focus, and cognitive function – Similarly, regular meditation can also increase the size of other parts of the brain. For example, the areas of the brain responsible for self-awareness and personality development, and planning (such as the prefrontal cortex) actually increase. As a result, meditators experience improved focus, creativity, and cognitive function—a great benefit for those of us over 60!
- Improves memory – A number of studies conducted by neuroscientists have confirmed a clear link between meditation and enhanced memory. Meditation stimulates the memory centers within the brain. One study conducted by researchers in Boston found that frequent meditation seemed to bolster the cerebral cortex. (The cortex deals with mental functions such as learning, concentration, and memory.) Regular meditation increases blood flow to the brain, which leads to a stronger network of blood vessels in the cerebral cortex and reinforces memory capacity. This is great to know as we grow older.
- Helps you sleep better – Sadly, about one-third of the American population suffers from insomnia or some other form of sleep deprivation, whether occasional or chronic. An article in the Harvard Health Blog confirms that meditation triggers the relaxation response, which allows you to relax and sleep more easily. So, if you frequently find yourself staring at the ceiling and counting sheep all night to no avail, meditation is your likely solution.
How Meditation Works for Me
I’ve incorporated Transcendental Meditation into my routine, and it’s had a profound effect for me. It has improved my energy, and I feel better—I feel well.
Meditation, which is accessible to everyone, also has enormous potential for fostering wellness. According to Dr. Mimi Guarneri, president of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and medical director of Guarneri Integrative Health in La Jolla, California, “Transcendental Meditation reduces heart attack, stroke, and sudden death by 48%. That’s better than any medicine I know.”
In fact, I added Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM) to my list of habits to prevent illness and promote good health before publishing my recent bestselling book, 30 Summers More.
TM has been life-changing for me. I do it twice a day for 20 minutes. It clears my brain of stress and distracting thoughts, it takes my blood pressure and blood sugar down, and I find that I have much more energy, clarity, and creativity now that it’s part of my daily routine.
This form of meditation must be done twice a day for 20 minutes per meditation period. I have a packed schedule, and finding two 20-minute blocks of time each day can be a challenge, but I do it. Even if it means I’m doing TM in the airport, in the back of a car, or a restaurant, I do it. It’s not something you can do once in a while and expect results, but the time spent has an immediate return if you do it regularly.
Other people also have positive things to say about the benefits of TM. Jerry Seinfeld, Liv Tyler, and Anderson Cooper are fans, too. However, the science speaks the loudest. According to a 2017 Seattle Times article on the subject, the most cited medical research on TM “is a 1989 Stanford University study that found TM is twice as effective at reducing anxiety when compared with concentration, contemplation, and other techniques, like deep breathing.”
According to the David Lynch Foundation, the National Institutes of Health granted $26 million to several organizations to study the effects of TM on cardiovascular disease. These research findings mirror the information above as they found that TM:
- Decreases the incidence of heart attack, stroke, and death.
- Reduces the presence of metabolic syndrome.
- Extends longevity.
- Reduces blood pressure and use of hypertensive medications.
- Reduces constriction of blood vessels
Moreover, the American Medical Association released a study that shows TM reduces high blood pressure and mortality rates by almost 50% for those who have practiced for more than five years.”
The transformative potential of meditation shouldn’t be underestimated. Meditation reduces stress, improves your mood, decreases your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases your production of serotonin and HDL numbers. Meditation can help you sleep better and maintain a better mood, reduces anxiety, and improves the health of our brains, minds, and bodies. We should all be looking at ways to meditate more.
If you think you don’t have time to meditate, consider this: a recent study has shown that longtime meditators’ brains were less affected by aging than the brains of nonmeditators. Maybe spending those extra minutes meditating will produce a longer, happier, and healthier life.
In short, Wellness Warriors, meditation is a wonderful health improvement habit to develop, and the time meditating is time wisely invested. So what are you waiting for? Stop thinking about it and start doing it. What medication do you know of that can produce those results?
Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!