While the concept of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, it is not a religion or spiritual belief system; individuals of all religions have integrated it into their lives. Mindfulness is a philosophy of life common in Eastern societies, but one that has steadily been gaining momentum in the West. It involves being fully present in each moment and valuing the here and now. Researchers who study ways to improve the lives of seniors say assisted living communities that teach their residents how to practice mindful thinking report their clients seem to have more positive outlooks on life, are more active and worry less.
Meditation is just one component of practicing mindfulness, but it’s an important one. Meditation is probably something brand new to most residents of senior living facilities. This is one reason why it’s helpful — branching out and trying new things can lift the spirits of anyone, regardless of age.
Technically, there are several meditation styles, including mindfulness, Buddhist-style meditation and transcendental meditation. Assisted living communities that offer meditation sessions typically go with a hybrid Buddhist-style approach. The goal is not to master a particular technique but to help seniors feel more attuned to their minds and bodies. There really is no wrong way to meditate.
Essentially, here’s how group meditation works. Led by a facilitator, individuals gather in a quiet and comfortable room and either sit on the floor or, as usually is the case with seniors, in chairs. The facilitator asks participants to close their eyes, focus on their breathing and pay attention to the thoughts they’re having. The facilitator gently makes suggestions and reminds participants to center their thoughts within, rather than worrying about what everyone else in the room is doing. Taking time out simply to get in touch with one’s emotions can be cathartic. There’s research to back that up.
Researchers from esteemed universities, including Duke, UCLA, University of Minnesota and Carnegie Mellon, as well as other well-regarded institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health and Beth Israel Medical Center, have collected volumes of data supporting the notion meditation is beneficial to seniors and their caregivers.
Some of the purported benefits are measurable, medical ones, such as reducing inflammation, infection and chronic pain. Meditation was shown to be just as effective as medication at reducing symptoms of insomnia. What adult wouldn’t appreciate a drug-free way to get a better night’s sleep?
Other reasons senior living facilities should seriously considering offering meditation sessions is research shows the practice helps people live longer, feel less lonely, enjoy life and feel more connected with others in their senior living facility. At least one study indicates meditation may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are looking for quality senior living in Oklahoma City, contact us at the Village at Oakwood. Our caring staff is always looking for ways to improve our residents’ experience and help them live each day to the fullest.