By Kosta Miachin
We’re all aging, whether you’re just realizing it in your thirties, starting to feel it in your fifties or actively fighting it in your seventies. Chances are you know the basics for healthy aging: stay active, eat healthily and engage in meaningful work.
In this post, we’ll talk about an often-overlooked strategy for growing old more gracefully.
Here are the top 7 benefits of meditation for aging with peak mental, physical and emotional health:
In a work hard, play hard culture, we need all the help we can get when it comes to finding a few stress-free moments. Running errands while trying to juggle work, relationships and a social life can take its toll on our mental, and physical, health. Meditation provides the perfect space to simply be present – observing your anxieties as they arise, without judging them.
While meditation doesn’t mean we stop thinking about our daily stresses altogether (that seems virtually impossible!), it encourages us to observe and recognise them as simply thoughts. This is called mindfulness and is a highly effective stress reliever as it teaches us to be non-reactive, a skill that can be used in tricky situations throughout our lives. For added relaxation, try some simple breathing exercises!
Once we’ve attained lower stress levels, it seems natural that better sleep would be next on the list. Isn’t it so much easier to fall asleep when your mind isn’t running away with you? Meditation can help us recognize any wandering thoughts as simply thoughts, not truths or premonitions. This will help us get to sleep faster, while also promoting a better quality of sleep, helping us to be more productive and alert the next day.
As we get older it becomes even harder to ward off unwanted germs. Meditation can do wonders for increasing our immunity and help us to fight back when coughs and colds season hits. Meditation creates a positive, stress-free environment in which our immune system can flourish – boosting antibodies and stopping us from getting sick. Meditating for just ten minutes a day can kick our immune systems back into gear and help us make it through the winter at our best.
Our daily list of responsibilities doesn’t just stop once we reach a certain age. Often, it only seems to get longer! While meditation doesn’t give us any more hours in the day, it certainly makes it seem as though there are! By training your mind to focus and return to the breath, you’ll be able to do the same when it comes to day to day tasks. Staying present throughout the day is a great way to ensure your mind doesn’t wander and you don’t get distracted.
Meditation also causes physiological changes in the brain. By increasing gyrification (brain folding), meditation boosts how well the mind processes information and can even increase your attention span. Meditate for long enough, and you should see your productivity levels significantly spike!
Acceptance and Contentment
Growing older can bring with it a whole host of anxieties. Once we reach a certain age, many stresses seem to hit us at once. Our bodies are changing, our families and work are shifting, and we may worry about what the next phase of life will bring. While planning for the future or reflecting on the past both have their place, doing it all day, every day puts you on the fast-track to discontentment.
A short meditation each day can help you accept your current situation and free you from anxious thoughts. You will end each meditation feeling calmer and more at peace with your current situation.
Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can increase our risk of dementia or heart disease, but meditation can offer protection. By regulating our stress hormones and promoting a healthy and happy body, meditation can actually lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk of many age-related diseases. While it shouldn’t be used as a substitution for a visit to the doctor, meditation can regulate various systems in our body, increasing your overall health.
The mature among us have a lot of memories – it’s no wonder we sometimes struggle to recall things like we used to! Whether you’re struggling with short or long-term memory, meditation has been scientifically proven to help.
By training your mind to stay focused on your breath for a duration of time, meditation can strengthen your mind. This will help to prevent memory loss and prolong the life of our brains. Just like our bodies, our minds must be exercised to stay in shape – and meditation is a wonderful way to do this – plus it’s far more pleasant than a sweaty gym!
Kosta Miachin is the creator of VIKASA Yoga method – a unique, challenging and effective approach to yoga. He is also the founder of VIKASA Yoga Academy. You can find him online: www.vikasayoga.com