Older adults will find it beneficial to focus on all areas of wellness, including physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, vocational and environmental. These are all part of living in a healthy, happy way and having a good quality of life. It’s admirable to put more effort into the wellness areas that are lacking in your life while maintaining the good habits you follow.
If you’re trying to improve your health and well-being, it makes sense to take steps like eating more foods that support a healthy gut, stretching and exercising, and spending social time with others. Consider adding a meditation practice to your other healthy habits to improve your life and state of wellness.
How Does Meditation Work?
People often think they have to sit calmly without any thoughts in their heads to meditate, which causes them to resist the idea. But there are different forms of meditation, so it’s likely you’ll find one you enjoy. The overall idea is to take a moment to focus and calm your mind rather than let it run with its normal thoughts and anxieties.
Concentrative meditation is one popular form. Rather than clearing your head of thoughts completely, you have something to focus your attention on, whether that is your breathing or a certain word or sound you repeat, such as “om.”
Another popular way to meditate is to practice mindfulness. With this method, you notice what’s currently happening around you and within your mind without reacting to anything.
Nonetheless, there are many ways to practice meditation, including guided imagery, where you follow what a guide tells you to imagine, or moving meditation, where you move your body while calming your mind.
Does Meditation Benefit Seniors?
These are some of the top meditation benefits for seniors:
- Reducing Memory Loss: This is an important benefit, as aging comes with natural memory loss over time, in addition to the risk of dementia. The stress hormone cortisol is associated with cell damage in the part of the brain that handles memory and learning. Meditation benefits for brain health include calming the body and mind to reduce the production of this stress hormone, which reduces the contribution to memory loss and dementia progression.
- Reducing Effects of Stress: Beyond the connection between stress and memory, chronic or intense stress causes harm to the body and mind in many ways. The increase in cortisol produced by stress can increase inflammation, blood pressure, sleep problems, depression and other problems. Calming the stress through meditation can manage your body’s cortisol levels to reduce the impacts of stress on health.
- Reducing Pain: People use meditation to manage pain, which can be a chronic problem for many seniors. One reason meditation helps goes back to stress hormones again, which can lead to inflammation and increased pain. Beyond that, meditation helps the brain release pain-relieving endorphins and shifts your state of mind to better handle pain.
How Can I Meditate?
Meditation can be a simple practice to incorporate into your life. You have the option to follow a meditation teacher’s instructions, whether you go to a class in person or you follow an audio or video session. Alternatively, you can practice on your own.
Here are some tips to start an elderly meditation:
- Focus on your breathing, aiming to slow and deepen the breaths you take.
- Make sure you set aside at least a few minutes for yourself in a comfortable space where you can meditate uninterrupted.
- It’s helpful to set a timer so you don’t think about the time. Start with a few minutes and try to work your way up to longer sessions of 15 to 20 minutes.
- When you meditate, try to clear your mind of thoughts while you focus on your breathing or a word. When thoughts appear, know that’s okay, and shift back to your previous focus.
We hope you gain meditation benefits by adding a consistent practice to your life!