Problem: we all want to age gracefully
There is no question that ageing presents us with a challenge.
Our physical capabilities begin to wane, and we have to take new approaches to the way we live. But it almost feels like our resources for adaptation are somehow inhibited by a lack of energy and desire for change.
As a society, we are somewhat disparaging of our elders, which is highly unfortunate. People in traditional cultures cannot wait to be a much-respected greybeard!
How can Vedic meditation help?
Meditation helps on almost every level.
As well as the numerous health benefits reported on these pages, helping us feel stronger and more vital, we also find ourselves full of energy and very often we are subject to much greater flexibility. All of this combined makes us feel years younger.
Indeed, we do actually experience a reversal of ageing. When we start meditating, we can effectively put the pause button on the ageing process for anything from five to 15 years!
And we’re not just talking quantity of life, which alone is not enough. We are very much talking about quality of life too.
Studies have also shown that as a result of meditating with personalised mantras our neuromuscular coordination increases, our visual acuity scores improve and issues with gum disease tend to alleviate.
We also experience a reduced decline in serum DHEA S levels, which are vital to our adrenal functioning. After our mid-20s, there is a steady decline in these serum levels, and often by the time we have hit three score and ten, levels have declined by as much as 80%.
Maintaining higher levels of DHEA S is important as it has a significant anti-depressant effect and is associated with longevity.
When we meditate, our cognitive functioning stays much sharper, with our memory recall and creative thinking functions staying very healthy.
We feel much less challenged by the vicissitudes of life and instead find ourselves filled with an enormous sense of wellbeing and peace of mind.
Any sense of anxiety or fear of death tends to dissipate as we realise that our essence and our legacy will always remain.
By tapping into our inner resources, we step into our power and by discovering the wizened elder within and finding more gracefulness in the face of all life’s challenges, we may also discover that others start seeing us as the village elder we really are.
And even though we may not be spring chickens anymore, we can feel very young at heart again when we discover this world of inner richness that lies within. This practice gives us something to look forward to each day and an area of life to explore that doesn’t require physical activity – yet we experience a sense of growth even in the face of possible physical impairment.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to get into the lotus position to do this practice. Sitting up in bed or taking your place in your favourite armchair is the most effective place to meditate. And we can practise Vedic meditation on the bus or the train and in the park and anywhere else we may feel inspired.
What's the proof?
Early studies suggest a notable reduction in mortality rates seen in older meditators.
For example in 2005, 202 elderly subjects were monitored, and the results showed a 23% reduction in death rates for those using personalised mantras.
A second study involved monitoring 71 people across eight nursing homes over three years. Remarkably, in the latter study, no one in the experimental group using personalised mantras passed away while 38% of the 478 control subjects did.
These studies clearly need to be replicated to demonstrate the effects on large populations, but it is heart-warming to think that we may be able to watch the grandchildren grow up and engage with them more as we do so.