If you’re trying to make health and wellness a bigger part of your life, staying active is probably top of mind, but have you considered taking up a daily meditation practice as well? Meditation is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your long-term health, manage stress, and feel better overall.

What exactly is meditation? The American Meditation Society explains it as a process wherein you “connect with the silence and peace within yourself. During meditation, the attention flows inward instead of engaging in the outside world of activity. You connect with a deeper level of yourself, the stillness within, and gradually over time, you begin to live from a place of steadiness and inner peace.”

Most people think of meditation as a way to become more peaceful and focused, but there are many health benefits of meditation too, including

  • Increased immunity – Mindfulness meditation has been proven to positively affect immune function and also to reduce stress-induced immune and behavioral responses. People who meditate regularly tend to feel better and exhibit lower stress levels, improving their holistic health.
  • Slowed aging process – Meditation as the fountain of youth? Maybe! A 2009 study showed that meditation can slow aging at the cellular level by lengthening telomeres, which are the DNA and protein caps that protect the ends of chromosomes during cell division. Shorter telomeres in cells are associated with age-related diseases like dementia and hypertension as well as chronic stress and depression. Meditation, on the other hand, appears to lengthen and rebuild telomeres.
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness – A 2012 study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, of adults aged 55-85 showed that participants in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program reported reduced feelings of loneliness. And the science backed that up. Participants’ blood tests showed a significant decrease in the expression of inflammation-related genes (with which loneliness is associated).
  • Greater happiness! – Lots of studies have demonstrated how a daily meditation practice increases positive emotions, leading to greater life satisfaction and overall happiness. Meditation also reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.

These are just a few of the many wonderful things about meditation. So, how can you get started? Here a few suggestions:

Take a class. An introductory meditation class will give you a better understanding of what exactly meditation is all about and how you can learn to embrace it and reap its many benefits. Search for classes in your area – even at your local library or recreation or community center. A class is the perfect way to learn from someone who is trained and knowledgeable and can help learn to practice on your own. At Trilogy communities nationwide, we offer yoga and meditation classes, typically on a regular schedule each week.

Try a guided meditation video or CD. YouTube is an excellent way to dip a toe into the waters if you’d like to try meditating at home. You can also check out Amazon for CDs or DVDs (like Meditation for Beginners, for example).

Meditation is good for the mind, body, and soul! If you’re unsure about a class or a video, there are plenty of books and articles out there that will walk you through the process of sitting quietly, relaxing your mind and body, and breathing in and out as you focus on your breath. Give meditation a try and see how it makes you feel!