Meditation Training Proves Beneficial for Older Adults, Reveals Trial



Meditation Training

In a groundbreaking 18-month trial led by University College London (UCL) and an international research group, meditation training emerges as a potent tool in enhancing the well-being of older adults. The results, published in PLOS ONE, showcase the transformative impact of meditation on awareness, connection to others, and insight.

While the study didn’t reveal significant improvements in two commonly used measures of psychological well-being and quality of life, researchers believe it sheds light on potential limitations in current well-being tracking methods.

Lead author Marco Schlosser from UCL Psychiatry and the University of Geneva expressed the importance of understanding how to support the psychological well-being of aging populations. “Our findings suggest that meditation is a promising non-pharmacological approach to support human flourishing in late life,” he said.

Study To Understand The Impact Of Meditation Training On Older Adults

This study stands out as the longest randomized meditation training trial to date, exploring the effects of an 18-month program on the psychological well-being of over 130 healthy French-speaking individuals aged 65 to 84.

Conducted by the edit-Aging (Silver Santé Study) research group, the trial took place in Caen, France, involving collaboration between UCL, Inserm, University of Geneva, Université de Caen Normandy, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, University of Liège, Technische Universität Dresden, and Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

The meditation program, compared against English language training as a control group and a no-intervention control group, featured a nine-month mindfulness module followed by a nine-month loving-kindness and compassion module.

Participants engaged in weekly two-hour group sessions, practiced at home daily for at least 20 minutes, and attended one retreat day.

The study revealed that meditation training significantly influenced a global well-being score encompassing awareness, connection, and insight. Awareness denotes an undistracted attentiveness to thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, fostering calmness and deep satisfaction.

Connection captures positive emotions like respect and gratitude, enhancing relationships. Insight involves self-knowledge and understanding thought patterns, contributing to transforming unhelpful perceptions.

Interestingly, the benefits of meditation training on established measures of psychological quality of life were comparable to English language training, while neither significantly impacted another widely used measure of psychological well-being.

The researchers posit that these measures might not fully encapsulate the depth of human flourishing achievable through longer-term meditation training, potentially overlooking the benefits to awareness, connection, and insight.

Furthermore, the study highlighted that not all participants benefited equally. Those with lower levels of psychological well-being at the trial’s outset showed more significant improvements compared to those with higher baseline levels.

Co-author Dr. Natalie Marchant from UCL Psychiatry expressed optimism about the future of meditation research. “Now that we have evidence that meditation training can help older adults, we hope that further refinements in partnership with colleagues from other research disciplines could make meditation programs even more beneficial.”

Senior author Dr. Antoine Lutz from Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Inserm, France, sees the potential for targeted and effective meditation programs. “Our findings pave the way for more targeted and effective programs that can help older adults flourish,” he said, emphasizing a holistic approach to well-being beyond mere disease prevention.

As society grapples with the challenges of an aging population, the study underscores the potential of meditation as a transformative tool in enhancing the overall well-being of older adults. The journey towards holistic well-being takes a significant step forward with meditation at its core.

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