Meditation is a very ‘on-trend’ thing at the moment. But even for your residents, taking time to be quiet and still, to be mindful and thoughtful, can be very important. Meditation has the same healing and soothing effects on our brains as an eight hour sleep, so it’s a fantastic activity to try and include in the daily routine.
“Evidence shows that it can help with a number of problems, such as recurrent depression, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviour, chronic pain and many more mental and physical problems,” says an article on ageuk.org.uk.
Meditation exercises don’t have to be very long – just ten minutes will work well, and you don’t have to be an expert. There’s lots of meditation apps or CDs you can use, and various scripts or guidelines online too. Meditation can include a combination of deep breathing, visualisations, gentle movements and quiet moments.
Samuel A. Mielcarski, writing on mindfulnessforseniors.com, suggests the following things. “Focused meditations can be used to teach seniors proper breathing strategies to help decrease stress and anxiety and improve their well-being. Mantra meditations in a group setting can be a fun way to improve a sense of community and allow seniors to socialise, which can help to prevent depression and/or feelings of loneliness. This could be a whole other facet of therapeutic activities that long-term care facilities could be providing to their residents. Mindfulness meditations within a peaceful setting (such as a garden) can help to improve fine motor skills and overall feelings of well-being as seniors are allowed to connect with nature. This type of meditation for seniors has been shown to really help with chronic pain.”
- If your condition allows it, sit erect but relaxed in a straight-backed chair with your feet on the floor. If you cannot sit, then lie on a mat or blanket on the floor or on your bed. Allow your arms and hands to be as relaxed as possible.
- Gently close your eyes and focus your awareness on the breath as it flows into and out of your body. Feel the sensations the air makes as it flows in through your mouth or nose, down your throat and into your lungs. Feel the expansion and subsiding of your chest and belly as you breathe. Focus your awareness on where the sensations are strongest. Stay in contact with each in-breath and each out-breath. Observe it without trying to alter it in any way or expecting anything special to happen.
- When your mind wanders, gently shepherd it back to the breath. Try not to criticise yourself. Minds wander. It’s what they do. The act of realising that your mind has wandered – and encouraging it to return to focus on the breath – is central to the practice of mindfulness.
- Your mind will eventually become calm – or it may not. If it becomes calm, then this may only be short-lived. Your mind may become filled with thoughts or powerful emotions such as fear, anger, stress or love. These may also be fleeting. Whatever happens, simply observe as best you can without reacting to your experience or trying to change anything. Gently return you awareness back to the sensations of the breath again and again.
- After a few minutes, or longer if you prefer, gently open your eyes and take in your surroundings.
The following video explains, and shows, how easy and peaceful meditation can be, and you can also read more about the benefits here.