The Many Health Benefits of Meditation

What if someone told you they had a pill that would reduce stress, improve mood, increase energy, make you more creative, increase patience, and extend your life? Would you take it?

The effects listed are the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of meditation for older adults.  Let’s take a closer look at how this simple tool may help increase your lifespan and bring more joy to your days in the process.

What Does The Research Say?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is evidence that meditation can help with several issues:

  • Stress, Anxiety, Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Pain
  • Insomnia/Poor Sleep Quality
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Cancer
  • Weight Control/Eating Behavior
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder1

Though some of the studies were small and more research is needed, all of the studies showed promising results for practicing meditation. Impressively, meditation has often demonstrated outcomes on par with more traditional therapies and with virtually zero side effects.

In addition, a comprehensive review of age-specific research has shown evidence “that a variety of meditation techniques may be able to offset age-related cognitive decline and perhaps even increase cognitive capabilities in older adults.”2

How To Begin A Meditation Practice

Perhaps you’re thinking, This all sounds nice, but where do I begin?  Or maybe (like us) you’re skeptical because you don’t believe you can sit still for an extended period of time.  

Don’t worry, there are a plethora of ways to practice meditation, and with a little effort, you’re bound to find something that works for you. Here are some tips to get started.

  1. Make A Commitment: to give anything new a chance to succeed requires being fully on board. Without a solid commitment, you won’t reap all the great rewards. So, begin by committing to your well-being. For extra points, get someone to hold you accountable.
  2. Start Simple: you can turn anything into a meditation by incorporating mindfulness. By paying close attention to what you’re feeling, how you’re breathing, and what you’d like to accomplish (e.g., feeling peaceful, joyful, energized, etc.), regular activities like washing the dishes can become meditative.  For some additional inspiration, you can head here.
  3. Bring On The Gratitude: an attitude of gratitude makes being in the present moment all the more enjoyable. Fostering this mindset will benefit whatever practice you engage in while simultaneously making you happier and healthier.4
  4. Be Patient: they say good things come to those who wait. In the case of meditation, this is undeniably true. It may take a little getting used to, but once you’ve made it a habit, you’ll begin noticing how great it makes you feel. Pretty soon, you’ll wonder how you lived so long without it.

Sources:

1:  Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know. (n.d.). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved July 22, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-and-mindfulness-what-you-need-to-know

2:  The potential effects of meditation on age-related cognitive decline: a systematic review. (n.d.). NCBI. Retrieved July 23, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4024457/

3:  Hanh, T. N. (n.d.). The Art of Mindful Living. Plum Village. Retrieved July 23, 2022, from https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness/mindfulness-practice/

4:  Giving thanks can make you happier. (n.d.). Harvard Health. Retrieved July 23, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

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