Meditation for the elderly is not just a hobby and a way to soothe nerves, but one way to keep your body healthy and your spirit calm for longer. Therefore, we dedicate today’s article to the most important mindfulness practice tips and tell you what mindfulness for health can do for the elderly person close to you.
What is mindfulness for health philosophy? How do you approach your first mindfulness practice as a senior? And what results could mindfulness meditation produce for the elderly?
Mindfulness practice – what is that?
Mindfulness or attentiveness is the psychological process of focusing attention on internal and external stimuli occurring at the moment, which can be developed through meditation or other exercises. The term mindfulness is the English translation from Pali of the word sati, which is an essential element of some Buddhist traditions.
Research on large populations has shown that the practice of mindfulness meditation is strongly correlated with well-being and perception of health, whereas excessive pondering and anxiety lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, while mindfulness practice effectively reduces both rushing thoughts and anxiousness.
Mindfulness for health
According to the latest findings of a study published by British neuropsychologists in the prestigious medical journal Neuropsychology Review, mindfulness can have a significant impact on improving cognitive function in older people (aged 60 and over).
Specialists studying the relationship between brain activity and specific human behaviour believe that mindfulness training can improve cognitive processes related to remembering information, spatial orientation or abstract thinking in seniors. According to researchers at Emory University, regular meditation can stop changes in the brain, such as those caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The technique of eliminating what is not important at the moment (especially unnecessary emotions, intrusive thoughts, fear or self-doubt) and paying attention only to what is important (and happening “here and now”) not only allows us to improve our memory but can also incredibly improve our efficiency, reduce stress and significantly influence how we think.
It is for this reason that mindfulness has gained great recognition both among psychologists and psychiatrists (who have noticed significant improvements in patients with anxiety or depression), as well as among executives and business people achieving dizzying results after having trained the ability to focus only on what may matter most to them.
Mindfulness training can be practised at your convenience independently or using guided meditation videos available on YouTube – all you need to do is to browse phrases such as “mindful meditation for anxiety” or “mindfulness for health meditation”.
Meditation for the elderly mainly consists of a moment of silence in solitude, away from distractions, preferably in nature or in one’s own home. Some people find it easier to practise techniques similar to those used during meditation before practising yoga. The most important mindfulness tips are essentially limited to:
- controlling your breathing – breathing in and out calmly,
- focusing on what is happening “here and now”,
- clearing your thoughts of unnecessary emotions and eliminating distractions from your environment,
- paying attention to doing only one thing at a time – slowly and mindfully,
- abandoning automatic thinking – a brain accustomed to routine is less efficient,
- self-acceptance – understanding that our soul and body are one and that if we worry unnecessarily about something, although we usually do not influence the outcome, the whole organism suffers, which can lead to psychosomatic reactions and illness.
Mindful meditation for anxiety in three steps
Here are three steps to successful mindful meditation for anxiety and other nervous troubles.
Step one – focus
Focus attention on the present moment. Notice the emotions and physical sensations at the moment and simply hold on to them, without passing judgement on them. Allow yourself to become a container for these sensations and notice how they change over time.
Step two – breath
Contemplate your breath and notice the pattern and rhythm of your breathing. Observe whether it is shallow or deep and whether the sensations are more chest or nasal and try to perceive as much as possible.
Step three – attention
Spread your attention to encompass the whole body. Notice the sensations throughout the body as they change from moment to moment. Try to hold on to these feelings and observe.
Mindfulness for health and well-being
Mindfulness has great results for our health and well-being, regardless of age. However, it is important to acknowledge that meditation for the elderly is particularly beneficial as it allows seniors to come to terms with the changes associated with their age and the limitations of their bodies, and improves cognitive abilities. Therefore, if you are a senior or have some around you, be sure to encourage them to do this activity!