The writers cited this fact: depression continues to be a major health issue for older adults. It affects about 20% of adults ages 65 and older, and regular depression can lead to higher risks for heart disease and death from illnesses. It also affects people's daily lives by making them more socially isolated and affecting cognitive function, especially memory.
Stress and anxiety are major triggers of depression. It is meditation which can alter your reaction to those feelings.
"Meditation trains the brain to achieve sustained focus, and to return to that focus when negative thinking, emotions, and physical sensations intrude — which happens a lot when you feel stressed and anxious," says Dr. John W. Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
One way meditation helps the brain is by protecting the hippocampus (a brain area involved in memory). One study discovered that people who meditated for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks increased the volume of gray matter in their hippocampus, and other research has shown that people who suffer from recurrent depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus.
The aim of meditation is not to push aside stress or block out negative thinking, but rather to notice those thoughts and feelings, all the while understanding that you don't have to act on them. This could be as simple as closing your eyes and repeating a single phrase or word, or counting breaths. "This helps provide some distance from those negative thoughts or stressful feelings, allowing you to recognize that, although they affect you, they are not you," says Dr. Denninger.
Here’s a brief meditation you can do in the comfort of your home. It takes less than ten minutes but is highly effective. Find a place to sit, either on a chair, bed or cushion on the floor. As you inhale, say “one”; then exhale. On the next inhale, say “two”; then exhale. Count your inhales to ten. Then, start over but this time, only count your exhales up to ten. Begin a third round but this time count both the inhalations and the exhalations. (Inhale and say one; exhale and say one...inhale two and exhale two, all the way to ten). For the final round simply sit and breathe. Don’t count anything. Just sit quietly for 60 to 90 seconds.