Mindfulness and Meditation
A new study from researchers at the University of California Los Angeles has found that older people who take part in an eight-week program of meditation were able to reduce feelings of loneliness and boost their immune systems.
Loneliness isn’t just an emotional issue; it’s a form of stress that has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and early death. It’s particularly acute among older adults; a 2005 study found that nearly 60 percent of people age 70 and older experience some type of
loneliness. In the study, 40 adults between the ages of 55 and 85 were divided into two groups. One practiced mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which trains the mind to pay attention to what is happening in the moment, and "cultivate clarity, insight and understanding," according to the Center for Mindfulness, which developed the program. This group attended two-hour weekly meetings, meditated at home for 30 minutes daily, and attended one day-long retreat. The control group did not
"While this was a small sample, the results were very encouraging," noted Dr. Michael Irwin, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, in a press release. "It adds to a growing body of research that is showing the positive benefits of a variety of meditative techniques, including tai chi and yoga."
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