Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking through meditation may help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

A review of 12 studies found that meditation increased attention, memory and mental quickness in older participants.

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Health

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Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stress.
  • Researchers have found that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.
Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you to understand yourself better.

According to research, some forms of meditation can teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating.

Practicing focused-attention meditation may build your attention span.

  • Meditation may reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying and poor attention.
  • Studies found that four days of practicing meditation can increase attention span.
Increasing positive feelings

Studies found that Metta, also known as loving-kindness meditation, increases peoples' compassion toward themselves and others.

The mental discipline developed through meditation may help break dependencies.

Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention and control their emotions and impulses.

According to some studies, meditation can help you relax and control your thoughts. It can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Meditation can reduce your perception of pain. 

Meditating patients showed increased activity in the areas of the brain that control pain. 

Meditation can increase heart function. 

Meditation reduces blood pressure during the time you meditate and also over time. Meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function.

  • Focused-attention meditation: Concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. 
  • Open-monitoring meditation: Encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought and sense of self.

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RELATED IDEAS

While some stress is essential for human function, chronic stress creates a cascade of physical changes throughout your body: 

  • Heart problems: high risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. 
  • A weak immune system, leaving you vulnerable in the face of illnesses. 
  • Diabetes risk: Chronic stress can lead to extra blood sugar. 
  • Stress can cause stomach and digestion problems and increase the intake of unhealthy foods and alcohol. 
  • Sex and reproduction problems in both men and women.

10

IDEAS

Mindfulness meditation made easy!
Settle in
  • Find a quiet space. Using a cushion or chair, sit up straight but not stiff; allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably; place your hands on the tops of your legs with upper arms at your side.
Now breathe
  • Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. Feel the fall and rise of your chest and the expansion and contraction of your belly. With each breath notice the coolness as it enters and the warmth as it exits. Don't control the breath but follow its natural flow.
Stay focused
  • Thoughts will try to pull your attention away from the breath. Notice them, but don't pass judgment. Gently return your focus to your breath. Some people count their breaths as a way to stay focused.
Take 10
  • A daily practice will provide the most benefits. It can be 10 minutes per day, however, 20 minutes twice a day is often recommended for maximum benefit.

Sometimes called Zazen, it involves specific steps and postures and is studied with a teacher. 

The goal is to find a comfortable position, focus on breathing and mindfully observing one's thoughts without judgement.

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