If you've never given any thought to trying meditation or you think it's only for monks and hippies have no fear. You don't need to have to wear a tie-dye shirt or convert to buddhism, and you don't need to be able to contort your legs into the lotus position. For us fabulous over 40s, meditation can help deal with the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with aging.
There are many studies that show the various benefits of meditation, but there are three conditions with a strong body of evidence to support its beneficial effects: depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Other studies claim that meditation has been shown to decrease blood pressure and inflammation, and can improve coronary artery disease and headaches. Meditation can also help with reductions in irritable bowel symptoms and insomnia; can improve short and long term memory, attention span and general cognition; and may improve circulation and oxygen in the blood. While these effects can't be proven with the current research, most studies agree that meditation can lead to positive changes in health simply in it's ability to improve overall emotional well-being.
Meditation doesn't need to have medical evidence to have a positive role in your life, but if you're looking for more concrete data on the benefits of meditation, I found a great article that lists Fourteen Scientifically Proven Ways Meditation Rewires Your Brain for Happiness, Peace and Success. You can read the full article HERE.
While it does take practice and some knowledge of techniques, meditation is something everyone can do and benefit from.
Stop worrying. There is no wrong way to meditate.
The best definition of meditation that I've ever found was from the Yoga International website that says "Meditation is very simple. It is simply attending. You can begin by attending to your breath, and then if a thought comes, attend to it, notice it, be open to it—and it will pass. Then you can come back to the breath. Meditation teaches you to attend to what is taking place within without reacting. In learning to do so, you have given yourself an inner vacation."
Transcendental Meditation is a silent mantra meditation that is practiced for 15-20 minutes twice per day, is one of the most widely practiced and researched meditation techniques, and the one you're probably most familiar with. But there are many forms of meditation including, Mindfulness, Guided Imagery, Centering Prayer and Body Scan. Tai Chi, qigong or yoga are also forms of meditation since they all combine focused breathing with slow movements or static poses.
Ready to give meditation a try? You don't have to visit an ashram in Tibet, or pay thousands of dollars to a guru to practice meditation. Here are just a few of the ways you can start your journey into meditation from your own home.
Meditation Minis - if you're short on time or don't think you can comfortably sit still for longer than 10 minutes
Meditation Oasis - using the mindfulness meditation technique, these podcasts offer guided meditations with and without music, and even some with just music if you are familiar with meditation
The Sleep Meditation Podcast - If you struggle to shut your mind off at the end of the day, this podcast might be the answer.
If you're more visual, try these channels for advice from seasoned instructors and practitioners:
Free your mind from your pre-conceived notions of meditation and consider trying out this powerful form of self discovery and healing. Om.