Benefits and meditation tips for seniors
Just because you’re no spring chicken, that doesn’t mean your goose is cooked as far as meditation is concerned. In some ways, older adults have an edge when it comes to meditating. If you’re a senior, you may have more time to devote to practice than when you were younger, more of an ability to relax and enjoy the moment without feeling like you need to jump up this very moment and get things done, and more wisdom that helps you prioritize and understand the value of meditation.
Meditation, in a nutshell, is about cultivating presence, awareness and non-judgment. “Well and good,” you may think, “but how should I meditate? What’s involved?” Most often you would begin by giving yourself dedicated time to focus—on the breath, on physical sensations, on a recorded guided meditation or on a word, phrase or sound that you repeat in your mind with or without audio support, for example.
There are countless resources explaining meditation for beginners out there that apply to seniors as well. If you’re an older adult and this practice is new for you, you may be happy to learn that you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the ground: you can meditate on a chair, lying down, standing or walking. You can try different postures on for size until you’ve found the one or ones that are right for you.
What are the best meditation techniques for seniors?
Here a few simple meditation tips for seniors:
- If your mind is prone to wandering or tuning out, try simple guided meditations that take the guesswork out of practice and that you can easily become familiar with. If you’re able to maintain an upright sitting posture, this will help keep the energy of your mind focused.
- If your mind is alert but your body tires easily, try lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair and focusing on a series of physical sensations as presented in the “body scan” mindfulness technique. A mind that is focused and in motion is more likely to remain alert while the body is relaxed. Follow a guided meditation until you’ve become familiar with this method.
- Mini-sessions are recommended for seniors who find it difficult to maintain a physical posture or to focus for any significant length of time. Simply being present and aware during a few breaths—a couple of minutes—is an excellent practice. Then relax the mind and body and, when you’re ready, start again.
- Finding a word or sentence—a prayer, a motivational phrase, a mantra—that speaks to you and you can come back to is a form of meditation that can offset anxiety and may have spiritual or psychological benefits as well.
- Any form of exercise that combines physical movement and discipline with mental focus (yoga or tai chi, for example) has the potential to benefit both body and mind. Plus, these disciplines help older adults maintain the vital assets of balance and flexibility.
If you’re an older meditator who has been sitting for a while, modifications will probably take place naturally. This may translate as opting for shorter sessions or a more comfortable posture, or doing walking meditation at more frequent intervals to keep the body happy.
Benefits of meditation for seniors
What are the benefits of meditation for seniors? Studies suggest that meditation can improve brain power. It enhances long- and short-term memory, the ability to focus and resilience. The well-documented stress reduction results of mindfulness practice come with a host of related physical benefits, including lower blood pressure and inflammation. Psychological benefits may include a sense of well-being, an improved ability to cope with loneliness and sadness, and increased empathy. Those who live within a community or family structure may enjoy meditating regularly with others as a dedicated moment of collective relaxation and well-being.
Wondering how to get started? When available, community meditation courses are a great way to learn the ropes and connect with other like-minded folk. Mindworks Meditation Courses are another excellent resource, especially when they offer methodical instructions. The Mindworks Meditation Fundamentals module is designed with you in mind. It offers a progressive series of Guided Meditations and insightful Mind Talk videos.
Will meditation cure all of your aches and pains? Unlikely. Will it turn back the clock? Nope. Will it help you live life to the fullest? In our experience, it most definitely will. As meditation enthusiast Oprah Winfrey writes, “Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.” Meditation might just be this year’s “something valuable,” whether you’re a spring chicken or a wise old owl.