"Meditation for Seniors"
by Dr. Larry Morris
Meditation is an individual spiritual practice that dates back thousands of years and is uniquely suited to senior citizens' lifestyles. In the Book of Job, roughly 3,000 BC, we read the exhortation to "meditate on these thoughts to attain union with God." Jesus was also describing some form of inner communion when he said, "Go in your closet and close the door." Virtually every spiritual tradition and therapeutic discipline has some form of meditative practice. Meditation is the practice of turning within each day for a short period of time and allowing ourselves to quiet down and experience our thoughts and feelings without resistance or struggle. It can be especially relevant to a senior lifestyle as it can easily adapt itself to the life review process which a senior naturally undergoes.
While there are many proven health benefits to meditation, perhaps the greatest benefit lies in inner self-discovery. Consistent meditation practice can lead a person to experience new perceptions and realizations that keep him or her from becoming too rigid or inflexible in the later years. Many cultures have adopted the archetype of the Wise Elder whose accumulated experiences lead to a wisdom that is denied to the young. Indeed, the mature years allow for a depth of experience and of understanding that can only come through the years of living. Young people can meditate and achieve a certain level of understanding. But the senior years are a time of a natural turning within to find life's deeper meaning. What better way to use our time than to find something that we weren't aware of before—deep within ourselves.
We can use the latter phase of our life to explore our inner nature through this meditative means. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, "What We owe to silence makes our ripening exact." There can be a creative uniqueness to our life as we allow our senior years to be a time of blossoming and self-discovery through some inner practice. Perhaps we can find for ourselves a way of inner quietude and serenity that gives to our lives an unexpected wholeness and depth of meaning.