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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Exploring The Paths of Retirement

         Retirement means leaving the paid labour force. Many people think that it is a single event; a happy one if we are financially secure and are retiring voluntarily and not so happy if we are financially challenged and/or are being forced to leave our social connections and/or our professional identities behind. 
         I am voluntarily left Kantlen Polytechnic University last year in August. I have been preparing to retire for some time, including the creation of this blog and workshop/seminars including humor, wisdom and retirement and ageism.  These can be helpful to both those doing pre-retirement planning, those who have already have already left work and employers seeking new workers and managing their business.
         According to Robert Atchley, a highly respected gerontologist, rather than thinking of retirement as a single event, it can be better understood as series of adjustments[i].  Not everyone goes through all of them.  See if any of the following three possible paths may reflect your experience. They are:
     1. The honeymoon path is a happy time; especially for those with good financial status when a person attempts to do all the things that he or she never had time to do while working.  Traveling is a frequent choice.
     2. Another option is immediate retirement routine. Many of us already have activities besides work.  For instance I volunteer and the local seniors centre and am creating a series of seminar/workshops that will not only benefit the community but also help me financially.
     3. The last option is rest and relaxation during which individuals sit back, relax and catch up on their reading. This period may last several years and then we pick up on our previous level of activity.  I approach this by stirring my creativity with painting and poetry writing.

         Retirees may also experience disenchantment.  Honeymoons don’t last forever. We may miss our work and feel a lack of productivity. Or we might experience the death of a loved one or be forced to move from our neighborhood and community. These experiences may last several years before we can return to our previous level of activity. In extreme cases we may experience depression. Fortunately the proportion of people who become depressed is reported to be quite small
         The return to activity is seen as a reorientation period during which we re-evaluate our situation and become more realistic in our choices.  We can then develop more satisfying routines.
         In planning for retirement it’s important to remember that, as a society we are increasing our longevity.  Retirement can last a long time.   Do any of the above descriptions reflect you own experience?

[i]   Robert Atchley --  Retirement as a Social Institution

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Confronting Ageism and My Practicing Meditation as I age

This post helps me put together two of my important thoughts.  The first about age stereotypes and  and the second about the basic process of Meditation. It all comes together at the bottom of the article, where a blog by the authors is listed, For me, meditation is a daily activity and Ageism continues to be a major factor in my continued activity to help others

The Content of Age Based Stereotypes
Clusters of age based stereotypes reflect the ageist attitudes, (some positive) such as the notion that older aged adults are less competent the younger adults or on the other hand, wiser. Studies also suggest the belief that as we age, we are less independent and strong. We are also seen as less attractive. Hence we often see commercials promising that the item for sale will help reduce wrinkles. “ Consider the number of terms that are used for older adults that reflect unattractiveness, such as crone, goat, hag, witch, withered, and wrinkled (Palmore, 1990)
For those of you who are interested in ageism the items are on Table 9.3, p. 376, in the book listed below. There are five factors considered characteristics of aging
Get upset easily ;Talk to themselves; Grouchy; Intolerant/impatient; Rigid Critical; Miserly
Health / Physical Appearance/ Personality        
Have health problems; Never fully recover illness Walk slowly; Wrinkled
Talks slowly;Hard of hearing
Are set in their ways; Meddlesome; Old-fashioned; Think about the good old days; Gives good advice; Interesting to meet; Good companion; Likeable
Interesting; Experienced
Poor; Hopeless; Unhappy; Lonely; Insecure; Complains at lot
Unproductive; Not optimistic 

How Meditation Benefits Health?
         Meditation is the practice to train his or her mind to gain some benefits. The meditation practice is originated as spiritual practice in Asian for thousands of years. The techniques of meditation are using awareness of physical process such as breathing and sensation surrounding body to gain conscious thoughts (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006). There are some misunderstandings or myths about meditation. Some people believed that meditation is a religious practice as it appeared to be practice in the ancient religious. In fact, meditation is the universal practice for anyone with different religious or even no religion. Some people said that meditation is for old people. Actually mediation is suitable to all age groups. Also, there is a misunderstanding that meditation is the thought control. In reality meditation is the practice that mediator is just witness the thoughts or sensation surrounding the body without trying to involve or control his or her thought. The person meditating will be later able to accept the situations as they are and move into the deeper silence and relaxing space (Ten Myths about meditation, 2012). Recently, meditation is widely practiced in the west with the belief that it has positive affects on health (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
         How meditation affects the health is still under the process of researching and learning. It is known for many of those who meditate that meditation can truly benefits health such as relieving stress, reducing chronic illnesses’ symptoms, or boosting immune system.  But there are still some questions for people who not know or understand about meditation frequently ask. Can meditation relieve stress? Can meditation reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses?  Or, can meditation improve an immune system? The information in this paper will address evidences to support how mediation can benefit health; especially, when dealing with stress, illnesses, and immune suppression. In point of fact, the research has shown meditation can benefit health because it can relieve a stress, reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses and improve an immune system.
         The researches show that meditation practice has been accepted as an alternative way to reduce stress. According to Mackenzie and Rakel, they mention about the history of mediation that was introduced to western medicine as a treatment for stress since1979. Meditation techniques have been used in the medical centers and hospitals for a long time to reduce stress.  The recent review of the scientific literature showed that there were over 60 studies that examined the effects of mindful-based stress reduction program and improving mental and physical health (2006). From this evidence, it shows that meditation has been accepted to western medicine as an alternative ways for stress reduction for long periods of time. Stress is known to affect the body negatively. According to American Heart Association, the body will release hormone and adrenaline when stress, which can cause high heart rate, high blood pressure, weaken immune system and uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms such as headache, stomach ache, and depression (2011). According to the article “Benefits of meditation for stress management,” the author explained that meditation can reverse stress response to the opposite ways such as slow down heart rate and breathing which will benefits the body by helps stabilized blood pressure, increase oxygen consumption, and restore the body (Scott, 2012).
There is other evidence that supports the ideas that meditation can reduce stress. According to Parker, the study of stress reduction research has shown that transcendental meditation affect the human’s metabolism by lowering the biochemical byproducts of stress such as lactate, decreasing heart rate, blood pressure and positive change in brain waves (Parker, 2007). The level of Lactic acid will elevate when that person confront with stressful situation (Young, 2011).  This study can prove that meditation can relieve stress by showing the result physically. Another research that supports the main point that meditation can reduce stress is the result of ECG data from the research. The study shows that meditation induced relaxation by increasing the frontal lobe alpha wave activity and coherence which are associated with being awake and in a resting state (Everly & Lating, 2002). Alpha waves are the brain waves that have a characteristic of wakeful rest which means that person is alert but relaxed (Brain waves and meditation, 2010).  This study result means that people who meditated will feel relax but awake and fully conscious, unlike sleeping. When people are sleeping, the neuronal communications between brain areas are partly diminished. So, people tend to loss their consciousness or reduce their awareness and perception of the surrounding during sleep (Samann et al., 2011). On the other hands, the study proves that meditation practice can make people relax or reduce their stress when they are awake or while they are doing activities in the daily lives.
         Meditation not only can reduce stress, it can also reduce some symptoms of chronic illnesses as shown on many researches. One example of chronic illnesses is the MS or Multiple sclerosis. According to Dr. Bowling, usually multiple sclerosis patients suffer from pain, anxiety, and depression.  His study suggested that meditation may be helpful for relieving stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain for patient with MS (Multiple sclerosis). He suggested that feeling of control, empowerment, and self-esteem may develop through meditation and progressive muscle relaxation may improve insomnia. The study has shown that meditation along with imagery decreased both anxiety and physical complaints during the physical rehabilitation process of MS patients (2007). Moreover, another example of chronic illness is Psoriasis which is the disease that affects skin. The study has shown that Psoriasis patients who listened to the meditation recording saw their Psoriasis clear significantly faster than the group that did not hear the meditation recordings; patient undergoing drug and phototherapy for Psoriasis while listening to the meditation recordings had fifty percent skin clearing in an average of 48.5days, compared to 85 days for the group that did not listen to the tape (Stork, 2011).  The study suggested that the group of meditated patients is able to recover from the disease faster than the other group who did not meditate. Nowadays, many people suffer from heart diseases. According to CDC, “About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” (2012). One of the study of Meditation and heart disease shows the group of patients that have high risks of heart attack by dividing them into two groups. Both groups were given treatment for high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, but one of the groups has to practice meditation 15-20 minutes a day. Over five years, the patients who practiced meditation experienced 47 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and death compared with the control group (Wang, 2009). This study suggested that meditation can lower the symptoms or risks of patient with heart disease also decrease the death rate. One of the studies shows that meditation can improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia which is a syndrome of chronic pain and fatigue (Mackenzie&Rakel, 2006). The study reported that over one-half of the patients that participated in meditation program had improved their symptoms, increased positive mood, and positive coping responses (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
          In addition, meditation practice has been used for Cancer patient to improve symptoms of Cancer. Many cases report the regression of cancer with intensive meditation (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006). Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce pain, reduce stress, reduce depression, reduce anger, reduce confusion, improve immune function, improve mood and improve the quality of life for cancer patients (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
         It is known that mind and body can affect each other such as people may become sick easier when they stress. The meditation practice is about training our mind. It is directly affect our mind and can affect our body. The research shows that meditation can improve an immune system. According to Davis, the study shows immune function test by dividing volunteers into two groups. One had meditated for eight weeks, and another group did not meditate. Both groups were given flu shots. The blood test was taken from both groups. The result showed that the group that meditated had higher levels of antibodies produce against the flu virus (2005). From the study result, it suggested that the body will produce more antibodies which are part of human’s immune system to fight the illnesses when people practice meditation.  This is a strong evidence to support that meditation can improve the immune system. Besides, according to Storrs, The research suggested that people who were doing mindfulness meditation were more protected against illnesses. The researchers divided the participants into three groups.  The first group did not change their habits. The second group started an eight-week program of moderate exercise. The third group spent the same amount of time in mindfulness meditation. The researchers followed the participants for one cold and flu season and asked them to call at the first sign of an illness and record their symptoms daily. The result shows that the meditation group lost 16 days of work to illness, the exercise group lost 32, and the group that did not change their habits lost 67 days. The study suggested that participants in the meditation group seem to suffer less and feel sick for less amount of time than other groups (2012). Therefore, the study’s result proves that meditation can improve immune system as seen from the amount of sick time.  

         According to the research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the article suggested the study of meditation and immune response of athletes. Since it is well-known stress and maximum workload of exercises will suppress the immune system. This study suggested that meditation may modify the suppressive influence of physical stress on the immune system. The research shows that the blood tests before and after exercise of two groups, one with meditating athletes. The athletes who meditated have lesser T-cell than the control groups. The T-cell is known for immune suppressor which means that the meditating athlete group has less immune suppressor even after workload exercise or stress (Solberg, Halvorsen, Sundgot-Borgen, Ingier& Holen, 1995). When people have less immune suppression, their immune system will function better. Therefore, the result of this study suggested that the meditation helps improve immune system.
         Meditation has known for a long time. However, many people still do not understand how meditation works and how it may benefit their lives, especially for health. In fact, when people understand the meditation and practice it the right way, the studies have shown that the meditation may benefits health.
         Many studies have shown that meditation can reduce stress. The meditation has been used in Western medicine as an alternative way for stress reduction since 1979(Mackezie & Rakel, 2006). The study has shown that meditation can reverse stress response to the body in the opposite way and it appears to have positive affect for the body (Scott, 2012). The studies’ results proved that meditation can reduce stress such as the study that suggested meditation can lower the lactate level which appeared when stress (Parker, 2007). Or, the study that suggested positive brain waves after meditate when check with ECG data (Everly & Lating, 2002).
         Meditation can also reduce some symptoms of chronic illnesses. The studies suggested that meditation can reduce the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis such as anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia (Bowling, 2007). As well, the studies suggested that the Psoriasis patients that meditated recovered from the disease faster than patients who did not meditate (Stork, 2011). Furthermore, the studies have shown that the meditation can decrease the risks of heart attacks, stroke, and death in the patients that have heart disease (Wang, 2009). Additionally, the studies have shown that meditation can reduce the symptoms of patients with Fibromyalgia and Cancer (Mackenzie & Rakel, 2006).
         Besides, the researches have shown that meditation can improve immune system.  One of the evidence is the blood test that shows high level of antibodies in the meditation group that received flu shot compared to the control group that did not meditate (Davis, 2005). Other evidence is the records of symptoms and sick time of meditation groups compared to other group who did not meditate. The study suggested that the meditation group suffered less and spent less sick time in cold and flu season (Storrs, 2012). The other evidence is the study’s result that shows the athletes who meditated have less immune suppressor after workload of exercise or stress than other athletes that did not meditated (Solberg, Halvorsen, Sundgot,-Borgen, Ingier&Helen, 1995).
         Therefore, this documentation suggested that the research has shown meditation can benefit health because it can relieve a stress, reduce the symptoms of chronic illnesses and improve an immune system.
Physically inactive
Active outside home
Has lots of friends
Has hobbies

i Whitney,B.E.& Kite M.E. (2006). The Psychology of Prejudice and Descrimination, Thomson, Wadsworth, For more go to

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Avoiding Stress as Time Flies By

As we age, I realize that stress is one of our major problems. Meditation, listed below, is one of the key techniques that help me. A major part of that process is deep breathing. It would be interesting to hear from you about the processes listed below are useful to you in combating stress. After investigating, I feel like I have a greater understanding of the Connection between aging and wisdom.

 Stress Busters 

( klinic health 2010)

1. Start off your day with breakfast.

2. Occasionally change your routine by meeting a friend or co-worker for breakfast. Allow time to relax and enjoy it.

3. Find some time during the day to meditate or listen to a relaxation CD.

4. Instead of drinking coffee all day, switch to fruit juice.

5. Organize your work - set priorities.

6. Don't try to be perfect. Don't feel like you must do everything.

7. Avoid trying to do two, three, or more things at a time.

8. Develop a support network.

9. If possible, reduce the noise level in your environment.

10. Always take a lunch break (preferably not at your desk).

11. Optimize your health with good nutrition, sleep and rest.

12. Get regular exercise.

13. Celebrate birthdays and other holidays.

14. Look at unavoidable stress as an avenue for growth and change.

15. Avoid people who are "stress carriers."

16. Avoid people who are 'neg'aholics.

17. Don't watch the 11 p.m. News.

18. Give yourself praise and positive strokes.

19. Develop a variety of resources for gratification in your life, whether it’s family, Friends, hobbies, interests, special week- ends or vacations.

20. Treat yourself to "new and good things."

21. Be assertive. Learn to express your needs and differences, to make requests, and to say "no" constructively.

22. Seek out the emotional resources available to you such as co-workers, partner, friends and family.

23. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help.

24. Allow extra time to get to appointments.

25. Take deep breaths when you feel stressed.

26. Try to find something funny in a difficult situation.

27. Take an occasional “mental health day."

28. Adopt a pet.

29. Take a mindful walk.

30. Understand that we do not all see or do things in the same way.

31. Practice mindfulness - learn to live in the moment.

32. Become a less aggressive driver.

33. Show kindness and consideration. Open a door for someone, pick up litter, etc.

34. When stressed, ask yourself "Is this really important?" and "Will this really matter a year from now?"

35. Resist the urge to judge or criticize.

36. Become a better listener.

37. Be flexible with change - things don't always go as we planned.

38. If spiritual, pray; speak to God, a higher power or your inner guide.

Monday, December 2, 2013

                               Early Days Of the Concept Of Ageism

The concept of ageism was brought forth by Robert Butler, almost forty years ago as:

“[a] process of systematic stereotyping or discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish with skin colour and gender. Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different than themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings.”

We are told that he saw on both individual and societal levels, from stereotypes to outright hatred.  The strongest stereotypes including disease, disability and death. In Ontario Canada ageism was defined as:

“a tendency to structure society based on an assumption that everyone is young, thereby failing to respond appropriately to the real needs of older persons.”
Ageism, like racism and sexism is “exclusionary”, and reinforces feelings of inequality and lack of social justice.

. Ageism is predicated on the belief that older adults do not and should not have equal rights and their interests “of course” should be subordinated to other persons and other interests.”

If you are interested in following this up,    Google: Robert Butler Ageism