Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years for different reasons. Some people meditate as part of religious worship or to attempt to reach altered states of consciousness, and others meditate to clear their mind and relax.
Mindfulness meditation is practiced as a way to bring us in the moment, to be aware of the events happening around us, and to experience life, whether the events we are going through at the moment are happy or sad.
And while it is easy to understand why we would want to live in the moment and savor a positive experience, why would we want to feel the anguish of a negative one? In mindful meditation, we are not trying to seek out the suffering in our lives or trying to focus on something negative. Instead, we are aware of our problems and learning to accept them and deal with them.
We are also mindful of pleasant experiences and living in the moment, and appreciate the blessings in our life, no matter how big or how small, without fear that the moment will disappear too quickly.
How do we practice mindfulness meditation?
- -Find a quiet, peaceful room in your home, preferably an area without clutter or anything that may distract you.
- -Sit on a cushion on the floor, with your back straight but not too rigid.
- -Cross your legs if you can do so comfortably, and leave your hands on your thighs.
- -Relax and let your gaze rest on the floor a few feet in front of you.
- -Clear your mind, but recognize that thoughts will pop into your head. Gently let the thoughts float away again.
- -Breathe deeply in and out, in a way that is natural to you, for a few minutes.
- -As thoughts come back to your consciousness, pay attention to them but don’t judge, and continue to focus on your breathing.
- -Do this for 10 minutes or so, and increase by a few minutes each time until you meditate for 20 minutes, and eventually up to an hour. With practice, mindful meditation becomes easier.
Benefits of Mindfulness for the Elderly
Residents of senior living communities have had full lives, and experiences at both the happy and tragic ends of the spectrum. Focusing on the tragic events of our life, or remembering the happy days with sadness, because we miss them, can lead to depression and anxiety.
Practicing mindful meditation can help seniors be at peace, relax, sleep better, and keeps the mind sharp and focused while creating a better mood overall.
Mindfulness does not mean to stop thinking or to think about nothing. It also is not about personal development or self-improvement. It is an exercise in self-awareness and acceptance.