Despite the common stereotypes, people over 60 are busy. We are always on the move. And, when we do finally have a moment of silence, we rush to fill it with a thousand small distractions. Did you know that the average person checks their phone 110 times per day? 110 times!
Unfortunately, it seems that in our rush to connect with the world around us, we forget to take the time to connect with ourselves. In doing so, we prevent ourselves from achieving the true happiness that comes from self-awareness.
In addition, the very cadence of today’s “always on” society depletes our emotional reserves and draws our attention away from the things that are really important.
How comfortable are you with silence? When was the last time that you gave yourself permission to turn off the distractions around you and just sit quietly? Watch this short video and join the conversation.
One of the most powerful ways to reconnect with yourself and plant the seeds of happiness in your mind is through meditation.
Stop for a second and think about the word “meditation.” What images or thoughts come into your mind?
The common thread between them is the focused training of the mind to achieve a beneficial state of consciousness. In its many forms, meditation empowers self-awareness. It helps to reduce stress and increase happiness. It enhances your brain’s potential and your problem solving skills. And, it can even help you to improve your self-image and build better relationships.
Meditation simply helps to connect with the part of ourselves that remembers. I want to be clear that my goal here is not to teach you how to meditate. My intention is to help you open your mind to the benefits that meditation offers. Let’s explore a few of them.
We often define ourselves in terms of our relationship with others. We might say, “I am a mother”, “I am a doctor” or “I am a good friend.” But, how well do we really know ourselves? Meditation is a powerful tool for re-establishing a connection with who we really are. Deepak Chopra says that silence is the foundation of happiness. We cannot achieve happiness without an understanding of our own true nature.
Happiness does not exist in the world. It exists in our interpretation of what happens in the world. And, our interpretation of what happens in the world depends on the way that we view ourselves and our own nature. Meditation does not help us to escape from the world. It helps us to re-center our relationship with the world.
Close your eyes for a moment and think of three words to describe you. Did these words come easily?
Of course, it is difficult to achieve self-awareness when the stresses of everyday life keep our attention focused on our immediate concerns. Fortunately, meditation also helps to reduce stress.
We know that unmanaged stress can damage the body and speed up the aging process. Stress weakens the immune system and can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, obesity, depression and so much more. Research has shown that regular meditation can reduce stress dramatically.
This is one of the reasons that meditation is a key to happiness at any age. By helping us to remove stress from our lives, meditation gives us the emotional resources to reach our potential.
It is important to remember though that meditation is not an attempt to block out painful thoughts or avoid dealing with our issues. Our minds are seldom quiet when we meditate. On the contrary, during your meditation, painful thoughts may interrupt the silence. This is perfectly normal. While you meditate your mind is hard at work, aligning your conscious and subconscious thoughts and bringing your mind back to a balanced state.
Can you think of a time when you felt completely stress free?
Meditation can also enhance your brain’s potential and increase your problem solving skills. We used to think that losing our mental sharpness was a “natural” part of the aging process. But, recently, scientists have shown that our brains are not static. They continue to grow new neurons and form new connections as we age.
Fortunately, when it comes to our brains, there are things that we can do to give Mother Nature a helping hand. When combined with a healthy lifestyle and exercise plan, meditation is a powerful tool for awakening new neural connections, while improving our ability to learn, remember and be creative. Spending 20 minutes a day meditating may be one of the best things that you can do to keep your brain is great shape for years to come.
Do you feel that your mind is running at its full potential?
Since meditation is a deeply personal experience, you might think that its benefits would be limited to our own minds and bodies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meditation improves our self-image and helps us to create better relationships. Meditation does not hide the world from us. It awakens the world in us. It helps us to connect with the world in a way that few other practices can.
When our internal world is in balance with the external world, compassion comes easily and we are able to build deeper relationships with others. Meditation helps you to be aware of your emotions and to control them when necessary. Ultimately, by gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves we increase our capacity to understand and love others.
It increases our self-awareness, helps us to reduce stress, keeps our brains healthy and helps us to build healthy relationships. Best of all, meditation is free. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving meditation a shot. Why not start by finding five minutes to sit quietly today and turn off all of the distractions around you? Your body, mind and soul will thank you.
Take a few minutes to watch the following simple introduction to meditation video. You may also want to consider our own gentle yoga videos, which can help you to reconnect with your mind and body.
Do you agree that meditation is a key to happiness? Why or why not? Have you integrated meditation into your daily routine? What results have you seen? Please join the conversation.