I was teaching a meditation workshop to a group of disaster responders recently and was struck by an 83 year old participant and his experience. We’ll call him Bill.

Bill is a long-time volunteer with the American Red Cross who responds to emergencies within his community, from home fires to major floods. He is a cloudloving man with a generous heart and is always open to new experiences…often running circles around his much younger counterparts.

After attending two meditation sessions, Bill took the tools home and used them. Three months later, he called and asked me to lunch where he thanked me for changing his life. Confused by his gratitude, he went on to explain what he had accomplished during the three months he used the techniques: 1) lowered his blood pressure and got off his blood pressure medications, 2) was able to sleep well again and no longer needed sleep medication, and 3) healed his 12-year estranged relationship with his son.

Bill’s experience is a great example of the power and simplicity of meditation. “All I did was sit quietly and meditate 30 minutes a day…and my life has totally changed,” he told me. “I wish I’d learned this in my 20s…I could have had a lot more fun! I thought it was just for hippies.”

Bill and I meet for lunch once a month now. Last month, his son accompanied us. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? You go, Bill!

By Stacy Rice, Bellingham, Washington