Mindfulness and the various elements that make up its practice, are topics that have become more widespread within today’s discourse, and more people than ever seem to be exploring Mindfulness as a concept, a practice, and a guide for how to manage various aspect of daily life.
In association with the fact that more people are being made aware of information related to Mindfulness, a greater number of individuals are coming to understand and view it as a powerful and accessible set of tools and strategies that can be integrated into life in purposeful and meaningful ways to help foster a better mental state and overall feelings of wellbeing. While it seems as though the majority of the dialogue related to Mindfulness has been geared in the direction of younger age groups, who are considered to be in stages of life that are characterized by greater levels of overwhelming stress and responsibilities to keep up with, research has indicated that seniors can reap meaningful benefits from integrating Mindfulness-based practices into their lives.
Mindfulness can be largely described as a set of techniques and practices that help individuals to foster a mindful mental state. This state of mind is reached when an individual directs, centres, and grounds their attention in the present moment, while simultaneously allowing and accepting the thoughts, judgements, sensations, and feelings that are present, without attaching any judgements to them. The practice of Mindfulness can allow seniors to feel more connected to their surroundings, as well as to their own feelings, sensations, and thoughts, as they accept and react to what is going on around them. Rather than ignoring or banishing thoughts or feelings that may be difficult to sit with, Mindfulness encourages people to direct attention to those emotions and acknowledge them for what they are. Through this practice, it becomes increasingly more comfortable to calm the mind and find a sense of peace. Rather than allowing the mind to remain stuck in the past or to hasten forward into the future, the art of Mindfulness is to create a complete and mindful awareness of what is happening in the present moment, outside of ourselves, within our bodies, and in our minds.
How Seniors Can Benefit from a Mindfulness Practice
There are a whole host of emotional and physical challenges that seniors must navigate as they grow older and move through the aging process. Practicing Mindfulness creates the opportunity for seniors to better manage the impacts that some of these difficulties have upon their lives, and can also make working through challenges more manageable. Some of the benefits that mindfulness has been seen to have for seniors include:
- Potential to Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s
- Improved Mood and Sense of Well-Being
- Improved Brain Strength Against Memory Loss
- Help Managing Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
- Decreased Sense of Loneliness
- Better Sleep Pattern and Quality
Ways to Practice Mindfulness
The very nature of Mindfulness and the fact that its practice does not require any outside assistance, equipment, or tools, means that it is incredibly accessible to any seniors who have an interest in exploring what it can contribute to their lives. Mindfulness can be practiced in any setting, at any time, which means it is a practice that is available to all seniors regardless of their living situation, mobility, or other aspects of physical health. Mindfulness is an individual and personal practice that can be nurtured in whatever ways feel the most comfortable and resonant to the individual. Some common ways to practice include:
- Walking Meditation
- Mindful Eating
- Lying or Sitting Meditation
- Grounding Through the 5 Senses
- Deep Breathing Exercises
- Checking-In with Thoughts and Feelings in Between Activities
- Attentive and Engaged Listening
Guided meditations and more information related to how to start integrating Mindfulness into daily routines is available in Edmonton, through groups, workshops, online resources, and numerous books and other sources.
Among the underlying notions that inform Mindfulness is the belief and understanding of the complex and meaningful ways in which our minds and bodies are connected. While most of us know this to be true to some degree, many of us tend forget the influence that our mind can have on our sense of self, how we feel, and how we perceive and experience the environments and people that surround us. The fact that seniors must often deal with challenges in connection with their physical bodies means that they often encounter negative feelings, emotions, or mental states. It is for this very reason that Mindfulness has the ability to benefit seniors in such important ways. Rather than directing attention and focus towards difficulties or struggles, Mindfulness can empower seniors by reminding them of the power that they have over how they feel and how they conduct themselves within their lives. Starting to incorporate aspects of Mindfulness techniques, even in small ways, can make a huge difference.