How Does Meditation Work?

Being retired is not always easy. You have more time on your hands than you are used to, you have lost your identity at work, and your health is not usually on an upward trend.


Meditation will not only help you mentally but physically as well.

UCLA Senior Meditation Study

Meditation can take many forms and be practiced either in a group or individually. A recent UCLA study compared seniors who tried meditation for eight weeks with a control group that did not. The results, now based in hard science, were surprising even to advocates of meditation. 

The seniors who meditated not only reduced their feelings of loneliness but their immune systems were boosted. Those who have long emphasized the mind-body connection would not be surprised by those results, but we often separate the two more than is warranted.

Given that more than half of all seniors struggle with loneliness, the reduction in feelings of loneliness alone should prompt more retirees to try meditation. 

In the UCLA study, the meditative group attended two-hour weekly meetings and meditated at home every day for 30 minutes, a nice combination of social and private meditation.

They also attended one day-long retreat during the eight weeks of the study. This group practiced what is called a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MDSR), which helps to train the mind to focus on what is happening in the moment to develop clarity, insight and understanding.

Blood samples helped to discern the difference between the meditative group and those who did not change their routine. Those who meditated saw a huge drop in their inflammation levels and consistently said that they felt less lonely. 

As the study’s author, UCLA Professor Steve Cole, pointed out, “If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly.”

Here are a few Amazon.com products using MBSR meditation, just so you can see this is quite popular.

Review from the last book: The Garden of Now truly simplifies the complexities of mindfulness and meditation. I am an author and lecturer on stress management and this DVD is an ideal fit for my students and readers. The soothing narration and visual effects allowed me to understand what parts of my body were most tense as I truly experienced the present moment. As I followed the guided steps of the exercises I was able to embrace the relaxing effects and better understand what it means to be in the now with my body and mind.

Harvard Study

A Harvard study agreed with the UCLA finding, discovering that more “disease-fighting genes” were active in groups that practiced meditation compared to those who did not.

That study’s author, Dr. Herbert Benson, attributed this positive reaction to the “relaxation effect,” which can match any drug’s power without possibly harmful side effects.

How does meditation work?  Go back and re-read that paragraph above... meditation can match any drug's power -- without all the side effects! That is pretty darn powerful!

Those who meditated also had a greater chance to be free of arthritis and other joint pain along with boosting their immune systems and lowering their blood pressure. That just amazes me -- arthritis, immune systems and blood pressure help all from meditation!

The key, experts on meditation say, is that this ancient practice is the antithesis of stress, which has all sorts of negative effects on our body. Heart rates stay low and muscles relax when meditation is done right; digestion proceeds normally and circulation improves as we loosen up through focused concentration.

The level of meditation needed to achieve all of these great benefits must go deeper than sighing over a cup of tea or lounging on the sofa. Deep relaxation needs to occur as you improve your technique of meditation or guided visualization. Practitioners say that yoga, repetitive prayer and mantras are forms of meditation that help them to achieve this extremely relaxed state. 

When practiced regularly, the benefits begin to flow. Thirty minutes daily is the recommended “dose” of focused breathing, repetition of a word or rumination on a given positive truth.

As a retiree, you have the time and you like to think of yourself as a lifelong learner. That means that today is the day to find out how much meditation can do for you.

Join a class or try it consistently on your own for eight weeks and see if you feel better and de-stressed, not distressed!