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Benefits of Meditation for Seniors
Although some question the benefits of meditation, modern science is starting to verify its benefits.

Physical changes in the Brain:

  1. A Harvard study found that participation in a popular meditation program, is “associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation,,, .” This means an increase in the part of the brain that governs learning, memory and regulates emotions, especially fear, anxiety and stress.
  1. UCLA researchers studied older people who had been meditating an average of 20 years. They found that these older meditators had more gray matter volume in the brain, suggesting that they were aging slower than their non-meditating counterparts.
  1. By decreasing negative emotions and stress hormones, meditation protects the chromosomes that mark physical aging while promoting cell longevity.
  1. Meditation may also slow Alzheimer’s. Anxiety and stress can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms; meditation may protect the brain. In the past we’ve talked about Catholic nuns, who meditate were shown to have Alzheimer’s Disease on autopsy, without any symptoms of the same.

Other Benefits:

  1. Increased concentration By sitting still and focusing on our breathing, we are able to calm our active minds. Meditation decreases activity in part of the brain network that is triggered when our mind wanders from the present moment and our thoughts take over. By stopping our wandering mind, we are able to better focus on the task at hand.
  1. Reduced stress, increase Immunity Meditation can increase immune function, which is related to having less stress in our lives. Meditation was found to change brain circuits that regulate emotion and may reduce markers of inflammation and stress hormones like cortisol.
  1. More happiness. An increase in electrical activity in the left frontal lobe is found in those that practice mindfulness meditation, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people.
  1. Less loneliness Because meditation can bring about more acceptance of ourselves, it follows that we are more tolerant and forgiving of others. Meditators feel less lonely, while the others felt more isolated. Loneliness, especially prevalent in seniors, has been shown to negatively affect our health and has been linked to a weakened immune system, depression and early death.
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