Meditation and Aging


Senior Couple Meditating

Senior Couple Meditating

If you’re a baby boomer in Canada, you’re a guest at a party with approximately 8.2 million people, according to the 2011 Canadian Census. That’s 3 out of 10 Canadians or 23 % of the population. That is a party you might want to prepare for!

Being part of this unique party means sharing the tell-tale signs of aging with a huge crowd. Chances are you’re probably going to bed a little earlier these days, losing some hair, feeling stiff in the morning, becoming forgetful, and you may even be experiencing the always charming hair sprouting from your ears, among other signs of aging. For some approaching old age, these signs are easily accepted, for others they can cause frustration and stress.

Getting old isn’t easy and at Totally Meditation we often work with boomers looking for a way to help themselves transition into old age. Meditation can be a great tool to help you to cope with your changing health and physical abilities. It helps you conserve your energy for changing the things you CAN control (like where you go on your first retirement vacation), improves your frame of mind, and helps you accept what is happening to your mind and body as you age.

Benefits of meditation for an aging population

Delay the process of aging:

Meditation may not be a fountain of youth but studies have shown that by protecting telomeres (the caps on the ends of our chromosomes), it may help to delay the process of aging. These caps play a key role in the aging of cells. Every time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter, unless an enzyme called telomerase builds them back up. When telomeres get too short, a cell can no longer replicate, and ultimately dies. This leads to a higher risk of –

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • depression
  • degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

So in plain English that means meditation can help us alter the rate at which we age by “replenishing” our body’s stock of the enzyme telomerase – the body’s built in fountain of youth.

It also decreases the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing the risk of tissue damage and high blood pressure.

Reverse the effects of aging on the brain:

As we age, the area of our brain attributed to attention span, planning, and memory – the prefrontal cortex – becomes thinner. A study conducted by Harvard’s psychiatry department in 2005 showed that people who meditated had thicker prefrontal cortexes and improved cerebral blood flow. This helps us retain memory and cognitive function longer, or in essence, build our brains. Yay for neuro plasticity!

Help you to sleep better:

Meditation boosts the production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone, resulting in a more restful night’s sleep. As you sleep, your body works to heal itself. In other words, improving your sleep improves your body’s capacity for self healing. Melatonin also helps to repair damaged cells that are a product of aging.

Reduce the anxiety that goes along with aging:

When we are feeling anxious, the neural pathways related to information processing tighten up, making it literally hard for us to think straight. Meditation allows a better connection with the reasoning center of our brain which allows for a more logical approach to emotional situations and in turn, the ability to react more calmly and efficiently.

If you’re a boomer looking to add meditation to your routine, we can help that so that you can be prepared to face the realities of aging head on and fear free.

To your inner youth – Anna

Resource – http://www.ls.ucdavis.edu/dss/news-and-research/shamatha-project-nov10.html

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