The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health describes meditation as a type of mind and body practice that increases calmness, physical relaxation, psychological balance and emotional well-being. People of all ages practice meditation and often rave over the benefits of what one session brings. While the practice of regular meditation has been well documented, experts agree that seniors who meditate experience even greater satisfaction than other age groups when it comes to mental, physical and emotional benefits.
"May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord." Psalm 104:34
With so many types of meditation, there should be one to suit most seniors. Some of the most common types are highlighted below.
Metta meditation. Also referred to as loving-kindness meditation, Metta meditation seeks to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything. This helps remove any negative energies toward sources of stress and can help those effected by anger, frustration, resentment and interpersonal conflicts. During this meditation, an individual breathes deeply and opens the mind to receiving kindness.
Body scan. Body scan meditation is often called progressive relaxation. During meditation, an individual scans their body for areas of tension and slowly releases it. This works by tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body, starting at the toes and moving to the head. Some forms encourage seniors to visualize a wave washing over their body to release tension.
Mindfulness meditation. It's possible to practice this form of meditation anywhere. Individuals are encouraged to breathe deeply, to remain aware of the moment and to be aware of their surroundings. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety or tension when standing in line at the grocery store or while waiting to be seen at the doctor's office.
Breath awareness meditation. During this type of meditation, seniors are asked to breathe slowly and deeply, counting their breaths and not allowing negative thoughts to enter the mind. Deep breathing is known to reduce anxiety, improve concentration and even lower blood pressure and alleviate the symptoms of panic attacks.
Zen meditation. Also referred to as Zazen, Zen meditation is a Buddhist practice that focuses on breathing and observing one's thoughts without judgment. People often turn to Zen meditation for spiritual reasons.
The regular practice of meditation has a wealth of benefits for seniors and individuals of all ages. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure and inflammation, reduce the risks of coronary artery disease, reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, alleviate chronic pain and ease headaches. It has also been shown to reduce the effects of irritable bowel syndrome, depression and insomnia, and it can sometimes improve memory and help preserve cognitive function.
Before starting any type of health regimen, consult with your physician to make sure it's safe for you. Seniors with physical limitations may not be able to participate in some types of meditation movements, including sitting for a long period on the floor. Check with the available classes at The Gardens in Springfield, MO, or consider utilizing the fitness center in the assisted living community with several friends in order to meditate together.