Why You Need to Start Meditating as You Age
Are you currently praying, om'ing, or chanting daily? If not, here are some thoughts on why you may want to add mediation to your daily practice as you get older.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can help reverse the rate of aging, especially when it comes to maintaining your gray matter, which is the part of your brain that helps control movement, emotion, and memory. From reducing stress, anxiety, and depression to improving our attention spans, discover how meditation can benefit you as you get older and how to get started.
Not only can meditation often provide immediate results but participating in a regular meditation practice can bolster healthy aging. A study conducted by UCLA found that consistent meditation can result in less loss of gray matter, which allows you to control movements, retain memories, and regulate your emotions as you age.
So how does meditation achieve all of this? When you meditate, you’re training your brain to focus. In doing so, you’re also increasing your attention span and your ability to control your thoughts and emotions. All of these benefits lead to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Here are some of the reasons you should consider incorporating meditation into your healthy lifestyle.
The practice of meditation is about more than just sitting still. It’s about focusing your thoughts and your breathing — both of which help promote overall mindfulness. The American Psychological Association defines mindfulness as a “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.”
The benefit of such practice helps reduce rumination — or becoming stuck in negative thinking — which has been linked to a range of adverse effects, including stress, depression, memory loss, and the inability to focus.
Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of adults ages 55 and older experience some form of anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, or mood disorders, including depression; all of which can negatively impact physical, mental, and social functioning.
While meditation has long been viewed as a way to reduce stress, it can also reduce the side effects of stress by allowing you to control your response to it.
Meditation Techniques and Tips
- Start small - As you get started, you should only aim for a couple of minutes per day and increase the amount of time you spend meditating gradually.
- Focus on a task - Many people find it hard at first not to go through a list of things they need to do, a conversation they recently had, or what they’re going to do next.
- Find a comfortable position - You may have an image of someone sitting upright on the floor associated with how to practice meditation. But the truth is, whatever position provides the least discomfort is the best option. This could include being seated in an upright chair, reclined chair, or even lying down.
- Add exercise - If none of these are working or you find yourself falling asleep, try yoga, tai chi, walking, or any exercise that allows for physical movement and mental focus.