The benefits of practicing mindfulness:
Many studies have been done that show the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for seniors. There are mental health benefits as well as physical benefits. Mindfulness is described by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at University of Massachusetts Medical Center like this: “Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge of your life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you — consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life.” It is a cultivated self-awareness that brings a balanced sense of health and well-being.
The benefits, not just for seniors, but for all ages, include reduced stress, and decreased pain. Mindfulness produces increased relaxation, more energy, higher self-esteem, and better cognitive functioning.
Studies have shown that mindfulness boosts the immune system and decreases inflammation. It has also been shown to slow the progression of disease, while it protects against cognitive decline. Studies have also linked mindfulness to slowing down the aging process and increasing longevity.
Mindfulness and meditation can also help with depression and reduce feelings of loneliness. Loneliness and depression are linked to negative mental and physical health outcomes.
Sometimes people think of mindfulness as a religious practice, which it is not. It can be used by anyone of any spiritual tradition, as well as those who don’t practice a religion. It’s a way of developing a certain outlook on existence that creates a relaxation response in the body and mind. The big thing to remember is that anyone can benefit from the positive effects of a mindfulness practice, there is no down side.
To get started with a mindfulness meditation go to UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and try one of the beginning meditations. They’re short and simple and enjoyable. Just see where it takes you.