Life is sweet at home

Scope out meditation for better brain, body health

After decades of not giving meditation a fair try, I finally paid a little money to join a meditation class. The leader reads a few instructions, lowers the lights and the room goes silent.

When he said the group would now start a 30-minute practice, I was borderline hysterical. How could I, a 68-year-old with the attention span of a preschooler on caffeine, begin to sit still and not burp or otherwise disturb all the well-behaved, veteran meditators?

Well, somehow, I survived and it wasn’t half-bad. I even felt kind of relaxed afterwards, not really all that twitchy.

Beyond feeling relaxed, I am grateful to have finally jumped on this brain and body health bandwagon.  Over the past decade increasing numbers of health experts recommend meditation to individuals looking to take advantage of its many benefits. Here we briefly list a few with a special focus on how meditation can help seniors and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

How Meditation Helps With Senior Health

Along with exercise, meditation is the new “fountain of youth,” explained a recent article. Here is a list of some of the main benefits cited for those 50 and older:

  1. Meditation helps memory: Both long and short term memory is stimulated during meditation, which helps seniors retrieve information, places and long ago memories.
  2. Meditation makes the digestive system work better:The deep breathing exercises improve circulation and blood oxygen enrichment, sending extra help to all of the organs, including the stomach and intestines.
  3. Meditation activates the happy part of the brain: By stimulating the “feel-good” prefrontal cortex brain region, seniors who suffer from depression can benefit greatly from meditation (so can people of all ages!).
  4. Meditation sharpens and focuses the mind: even elderly meditators can experience improvement in areas such as focus, more creativity and quicker wit. Research shows meditation is many times more effective than brain exercises such as crossword puzzles.
  5. Meditation melts away stress, yielding many great benefits: For senior citizens, two significant aging and quality of life factors, stress and end-of-life anxiety, are greatly reduced after beginning a meditation program.

How to Find Meditation Instruction Off- or Online

When looking for instruction, ask around in your community: ask friends or even your local health club yoga instructor. Instruction ranges from free to pricey and online or in person.

When you’re looking into a class or course, veteran meditators suggest you ask the leader two questions: “Do you have training in teaching meditation?” And, “Can you tell me about your personal meditation practice?”