What happens in the body that causes aging? Scientists have discovered a fundamental process of aging in our cells that occurs on the strands of our DNA. This discovery, which won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009, is important to our everyday life.

Why? The reason is we now know the speed of aging can move faster or slower, and we have some control over the process. Aging can be seen to literally speed up from stress and slow down from meditation.

We have known for decades that meditation improved health by reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure. This new research shows that the benefits of meditation are far greater than previously thought as it produces changes at the deepest level of our brain, cells and DNA. In addition to living healthier and happier from meditation, the deeper changes can bring dramatic improvements in longevity and cognitive function in old age.

Meditation also helps us stay healthier throughout life, not just living longer. Our cells are always aging; the faster they age, the more susceptible we become to disease; therefore, the benefit of slowing the aging process also helps us remain healthy when we are young. Meditation lowers cortisol, which helps prevent the triggering of our stress response. It is much like cleaning your nervous system just as you would clean your physical body.

Practicing any form of meditation regularly brings a multitude of benefits and it’s easier than you think. It can also be part of your physical/emotional/mental workout, helping to keep you fit in all these areas.

The sooner we begin meditation the better; however, research has found measurable changes in the brain after only eight weeks of meditation, so it’s never too late start.

The same has been discovered about regularly practicing Tai Chi.

Shepherd's Center - Moving MeditationBack row: William Von Iderstein, Marsha Brodsky, Patricia Etheridge, MaryLou White, Caroline Bailey, Mike Simpson, Charles Bowlyore, Misako Kay, Mary Schachtschneider, and Susan Gerke.
Front row: Sally Southard-Kelp, Dawn Blackwell-Steele, Susan Meny, Linda Pickett, Bill Pickett, and Barbara Weaver.
They are posed in a traditional Tai Chi salute connoting respect, friendship and honor. This is how we greet each other and how we begin and end.

Tai Chi has often been referred to as a kind of moving meditation. It is characterized by gentle, slow and continuous, curve-like movements. Frequent practice of these movements helps one become more patient and relaxed. It has even been found effective for those struggling with memory loss.

Recently the Shepherd’s Center had the privilege of hosting an Instructor’s Training for Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention teachers. In mid-August, 14 instructors were trained who were eager to take the form to the public.

The Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem immediately began hosting classes. Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention are offered as evening classes for those who may still be employed. Other Tai Chi classes are offered throughout the week, in and out of the center, for the convenience of those who prefer not to drive or to drive closer to home for their favorite activities.

Check the website for current Tai Chi listings:  www.shepherdscenter.org, or call Susan Meny, the Vital Living Program Director, a longtime Tai Chi and meditation practitioner herself, who is sponsoring these classes.  For more information, call 336-748-0217.