Mental and physical health are intertwined and this is why medical doctors started to recommend meditation to their patients who suffer from various illnesses, diseases and disorders. Some types of meditation practices are recommended for young people who have to deal with very stressful lifestyles, while others are suggested to elderly people. All meditation practices can ease stress, reduce pain and help people to fight anxiety and depression.
How Can Meditation Help Elderly People
The most common reasons elderly turn to meditation practices are inflammation, insomnia and pain. It is proven that mindfulness reduces inflammation and eases stress while Buddhist meditation is better for people who suffer from insomnia. Both style of meditations are great for respiratory problems that are so common in people over 50.
Besides the problems we mentioned above, meditation, particularly mindfulness, is great for elderly people because it helps them deal with the psychological problems that are a direct result of physical problems.
How To Guide A Meditation Session For Elderly People
Guiding a meditation session for elderly people means teaching elderly people a variety of mindfulness techniques meant to ease stress and pain. Mindfulness is a Buddhist style meditation combined with breathing techniques and body awareness activities like yoga or tai chi. The whole point of mindfulness is to make people aware of their thoughts, feelings and body sensations without judgement.
The first session of mindfulness or other meditation practice for elderly people shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. After people get used to the techniques, the sessions can be longer but not longer than one hour. Starting with 15 minutes is a good idea because people are not usually used to sitting quietly in one place for a long period of time.
Before starting a meditation session with elderly people, introduce them to the concept and tell them what will happen during the session. After doing that, you can start the meditation session by telling people to sit in a comfortable seated position in a straight back chair or cross legged on the floor. Make sure everyone is seated comfortably then teach people how to breathe properly and focus on the sensation of air flowing through their nostrils and out of their mouths. Make sure people are aware of their inhales and exhales but also of the way their body moves (abdomen rising and falling) while breathing. In this part of the session, it is important to make people aware of their breathing alone. The next step is to tell them to become aware of their thoughts, feelings and body sensations. It is important to emphasize the fact they should embrace and not judge their sensations or thoughts and categorize them as good or bad. Remind them to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouths and to engage their senses in order to be able to notice every sensation, sight or sound. During the first session of meditation people will struggle to stay focused on their present sensations and breathing without letting their mind wander. Reassure them that this is normal and that they should gently get back to breathing and focusing on the present sensations and feelings.
If elderly people who participate in your session are familiar with yoga or tai chi, you can incorporate these body awareness activities in the session. However, you have to make sure their main focus is on their breathing, thoughts and sensations and not on their moves.