I think the only people who haven’t heard of mindfulness by now are the Buddhist monks in monasteries who are actually practicing mindfulness. “Mindfulness” is constantly touted by the news, podcasts, psychologists, yogis and doctors as a cure-all for all ailments. Mindfulness isn’t just for millenials; it’s also great for seniors! But what is mindfulness, exactly? What are the benefits of mindfulness for seniors? Let’s find out.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” Basically, mindfulness is being still, clearing your mind of external things, and being fully present in the moment. There are many types of mindfulness meditation practices, but all focus on finding your inner stillness. The goal is to just…be, without thinking about the past or the future or all the things you’re worrying about.
What are the benefits of mindfulness for seniors?
There are many science-backed benefits of mindfulness, including:
- Emotion regulation. Emotion regulation can be especially helpful in retirement, when you may find yourself feeling like you have less control over the things around you. Mindfulness helps people feel more “even-keeled” and better able to process and handle emotions. Mindfulness also increases emotional flexibility and decreases reactivity. This means you are less likely to “blow up” or “freak out” when things upset you.
- Improved relationships. Relationships with your adult children and significant other can become more challenging in your later years. Mindfulness can help! Studies show that people who practice mindfulness experience more relationship satisfaction and less relationship stress. They are able to communicate better and handle conflict more effectively.
- Health benefits. Unfortunate and common symptoms of aging are more health problems and getting sick more often. Mindfulness improves overall well-being, and can even improve immune function! You’re more likely to be healthy, and less likely to get sick if you practice mindfulness regularly.
- Improved brain function. Mindfulness helps your brain with things like focus and faster information processing. Since these processes tend to decline as we get older, mindfulness is more important now than ever!
Why should I start a mindfulness meditation practice?
In today’s world, we rarely sit still with no distractions, no voices, no screens, nothing. We are constantly bombarded with information and distractions. Mindfulness might feel a little uncomfortable in your busy life. It can sometimes feel like “doing nothing.” But there are so many serious benefits to mindfulness. The calmness and “being present” you experience in mindful states can become effortless traits, things you don’t have to constantly practice but rather are just parts of you. Who doesn’t want to become a smarter, healthier, calmer, more present human being?
How do I start cultivating mindfulness?
There are many apps, websites, books, and podcasts that you can use to start your practice. Here is a short list:
You can also start by taking the next 2 minutes to just focus on your breath. Just sit still, and let yourself be present. Let your thoughts and feelings come and go without focusing on them. Keep returning to the sound of your breath, the feeling of the air in your lungs. Be fully present in the moment for 2 minutes. That’s all a mindfulness meditation practice is!
There’s no risk and so many rewards of mindfulness for seniors. Give mindfulness a try. You might be surprised by the results! If you need help, our staff at our Stellar Living Communities is happy to help you. Many of our communities offer education in areas like mindfulness. Give our Stellar Living Family Advisors a call to find a community near you.