Researchers from UCLA have found that “a simple meditation program lasting just eight weeks successfully reduced loneliness in older adults.” And considering that an ever increasing of our parents and grandparents are going to spend their last years alone, this is good news.
And it gets even better. They found that the same 8-week meditation course also reduced inflammation, thereby reducing their risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and even premature death.
According to lead author Dr. Steven Cole, “our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention that decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression. If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly.”
40 adults between the ages of 55 and 85 were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness meditation group or a control group that did not meditate. All the participants were assessed at the beginning and the end of the study using an established loneliness scale. Blood samples were also collected at the beginning and end to measure gene expression and levels of inflammation.
The meditators attended weekly two-hour meetings in which they learned the techniques of mindfulness, including awareness and breathing techniques. They also practiced mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes each day at home and attended a single daylong retreat.
These MBSR participants self-reported a reduced sense of loneliness, while their blood tests showed a significant decrease in the expression of inflammation-related genes
If meditation is good for your Grandma, then it’s probably good for you too.
And since there is no time like the present, here is a simple 5 minute breathing meditation for you from UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center.