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The primary benefits of meditation for seniors in addition to maintaining your good health, you must keep your mind and body in order. Good health is especially important for senior citizens since our body’s immune system begins to decline in our later years. Many things can make a negative impact on your health, such as illnesses and diseases.
However, negative thoughts and emotions can also affect your mental and physical health. Your state of mind has a significant impact on your physical health, especially in your later years.
Doctors who practice mind-body medicine prescribe holistic activities rather than medications for chronic health conditions. One holistic activity that is highly recommended by these doctors is the practice of meditation for seniors. The benefits of meditation for seniors seem endless, as meditation helps manage stress, depression, supports your memory, and so much more. But first, let’s discuss what meditation is.
What is mediation?
Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and body. When you meditate, you can either sit or lay down while relaxing and clearing your mind of all thoughts. Meditation is ideal for seniors, as there is minimal movement involved. Generally, when you meditate, your breath and heart rate slow down as your blood pressure, and stress levels decrease substantially.
Many people believe meditation is about sitting lotus-style while chanting gibberish. Instead, meditating is about finding a quiet place to block out modern-day distractions while relaxing your mind and body. However, you are not limited to just one way to meditate – there are many ways to meditate, and you can choose which meditation for seniors style works best for you.
Different Types Of Meditation For Seniors
There are many forms of meditation, as meditation is just an umbrella term for the many ways your mind and body can relax—nevertheless, the goal for all the different meditation styles is to promote relaxation and inner peace.
This form of meditation involves creating mental images of things you find relaxing while also using as many senses as you can, such as smell, sight, or sound. A teacher or guide typically teaches this type of meditation.
The word mantra means to repeat a word or sound to help concentrate during meditation. Therefore, you will silently repeat a calming phrase, word, or thought to help prevent any thoughts from coming into your mind when you practice mantra meditation.
Transcendental meditation is an effortless and natural way to meditate. This technique has you silently repeat your mantra while sitting with your eyes closed. This form of meditation might be complicated for some, as there is no actual concentration or visualization involved.
This form of meditation is based on being mindful and having awareness and acceptance of being present in the moment. You focus on your breath, as well as your thoughts and emotions.
This practice consists of a series of postures and controlled breathing to create a more flexible body and a calm mind. Concentration and balance are required.
This form of meditation is part of traditional Chinese medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic. The practice of Qi gong consists of meditation, relaxation, physical movement, and breathing exercises.
Tai chi is a form of martial arts that focuses on breathing while performing a series of slow movements.
How To Begin Meditation For Seniors
First, you will need to decide which type of meditation you would like to practice to effectively get all the benefits of meditation for seniors. It is recommended for beginners to start with either mantra or mindfulness meditation. Next, you will sit or lie down in a quiet place and begin to release all thoughts from your mind.
Your primary focus is to be present at the moment and not think about anything going on in your life. As you release any worries from your mind, your mind and body will begin to de-stress.
When meditating, you generally do not want any distractions for at least five to 20 minutes a day. However, the benefits of meditation for seniors may be a little tricky at first. For your first time, you should meditate for a few minutes and eventually work your way up to meditating 20 minutes a day. If you begin meditating for too long, it might be more challenging since your brain is not trained yet.
A common way for seniors to clear their minds while meditating is by focusing on either their breathing, a sound, or a relaxing image, such as a fireplace or sunset. When you have something to focus on, you resist any random thoughts that might enter your mind while meditating.
However, it’s normal for your mind to begin wandering during your session. When this happens, take a few seconds to clear your mind and start to focus on your breath again.
Benefits Of Meditation For Seniors
Meditation exercises your brain, and when you meditate regularly, your cognitive abilities, such as concentration, attention, and memory, will noticeably improve. When you meditate, you stimulate the memory centers inside your brain, which enhances your short- and long-term memory.
With that said, the benefits of meditation for seniors can offset the cognitive decline in your golden years and help you retain memories as well as you did in your earlier years. As you meditate, your brain’s left and right hemispheres are enabled, therefore improving your brain function.
As we age, our ability to store and retain memories will likely decline, especially if you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These two diseases are memory destroyers, and meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Mindworks.
Depression is a major health issue for senior citizens, as there are many life changes that we experience, good and bad. According to Harvard Health Publishing, about 20% of adults ages 65 and older have chronic depression, which can lead to higher risks for heart disease and death from other illnesses. Thankfully, the benefits of meditation for seniors can alter those negative emotions.
Meditation helps train your brain to stay focused when negative emotions and thinking intrude on your mind, which often happens when seniors have depression. During meditation, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel happier. These positive feelings will stay in your system for some time after meditating, which will help reduce your depression’s intensity if it revisits.
Stress tends to be a part of everyone’s lives, regardless of age. In fact, eight in ten Americans report being frequently stressed, according to a Gallup poll. With that said, there are many side effects for seniors who have uncontrollable stress, such as muscle pain or fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Stress management is essential for senior citizens to help maintain good health, and one way to manage your stress is through meditation. “Any condition that’s caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation,” says cardiologist Herbert Benson. Meditation helps lower your cortisol levels, and in return, make you feel more relaxed.
When practicing the benefits of meditation for seniors that typically include a mantra, you can shift your focus towards the present time and clear your mind of stressful, distracting thoughts. Even if you meditate for a few minutes, research shows that those few minutes can make an immediate difference when managing stress.
While the benefits of meditation for seniors will not cure you of all health conditions, it can certainly provide the peace and energy you need to help reduce side effects. All in all, meditation will increase your mental alertness, response time, focus, and, most importantly, patience, kindness, and love for yourself.