Meditation: why seniors stand to benefit the most of all
It’s no secret that meditation can benefit seniors in a number of ways, but sometimes it’s tough to get some clear info on exactly how it can help. David Michie, international best-selling author, coach and Mindful Safari Guide, broke it down for you and shared some insights:
‘Is there any point in older people trying to meditate?’
This is a question I’m sometimes asked at seminars, along with associated questions like, ‘Don’t our brains atrophy once we reach a certain age?’ and ‘Isn’t meditation mainly a stress management tool?’
Well, in short order, stress management is only one reason to meditate – albeit one of the most well-researched reasons. No, our brains don’t atrophy – neuroplasticity shows how they are constantly changing according to what we do with them. And yes, there is every reason for older people to learn meditation. If anything, they stand to benefit more than most people – and here is why.
Meditation lowers high blood pressure and helps treat heart disease.
Researchers Michael Murphy and Steven Donavan have summarised the findings of dozens of studies quite clearly demonstrating how meditation lowers blood pressure among people suffering form hypertension, and also slows down the impact of hardening of the arteries – atherosclerosis.
Meditation helps people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions.
A study by neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared different therapies to deal with chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Meditation was the most effective complementary treatment, and has been shown to play a highly positive role in both managing the impact of these conditions as well as helping prevent them getting worse.
Meditation reduces feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
Researchers at UCLA showed that meditation successfully reduced feelings of loneliness in a group of people aged 55 to 85. Neuroscientific studies have also shown how effective meditation is at helping manage both depression and anxiety. Meditation works at both a physiological level, changing our body chemistry, as well as a cognitive level, empowering us to better manage our thoughts and, thereby, our feelings.
Meditation slows ageing.
A growing number of studies show that meditation helps protect the telomeres, which cap and protect our DNA from deterioration. These include work by Australian Nobel prize-winning researcher Elizabeth Blackburn showing that meditation may slow genetic ageing and enhance genetic repair. As long as 30 years ago, initial studies showed that people who had been meditating for 5 years or longer had the biological markers of people twelve years younger!
These are just a few of the most relevant benefits of meditation to seniors. But there are many more, not least among them boosting immunity, promoting good sleep, enhancing mental clarity as well as emotional resilience.
The beginners guide to meditation.
- Find a quiet place, free from distractions
- Sit upright on a chair with your feet firmly on the ground – keep a straight back
- As you breath in and out, focus on the sensation of your breath at the tip of your nostrils
- When your mind wanders, bring it back to the object of meditation – the breath at the tip of your nose
- Practise for 10 minutes every day and notice how you feel immediately after each session
In addition to presenting mindfulness and meditation seminars, every year David leads groups on 6 day Mindful Safaris to Africa. Find out more on his website: www.davidmichie.com