Russell Treasure, Mindfulness Coach from Manchester, has kindly written us a guest blog offering tips and guidance on mindfulness for older people. Please pass this on to any family or friends that might find it useful.
Mindfulness for seniors
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and involves being mindful of every action you are taking. Meditation is the main form of practising mindfulness, although it can also be achieved by focusing your mind on specific everyday tasks. The goal in doing this is to become mindful every moment of the day and fully immersed in the moment that you are experiencing.
The benefits of mindfulness for seniors
- It can help fight off depression
- An accessible way to stop loneliness
- See yourself in a better light
- Improves digestion
- Learn to appreciate the moment
- Encourages relaxation and calmness
- Enhances cognitive function
Start off by sitting in a comfortable chair or laying down in bed on your back.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that won’t distract you. It is essential to get into a position which allows the body to relax and to prevent fidgeting and movement which will interrupt the process. If sitting, use an upright chair, sit straight but not rigid and have the head pointing slightly upwards. Have both feet flat on the floor, uncrossed, and hands on your thighs, pointing up or down to suit. If lying down, lie on the back with both hands flat on the mattress and the legs uncrossed. When the eyes are closed, there should be a feeling of lightness, that none of the muscles are required to prop the body up.
Physical relaxation – tensing and releasing muscles
To start off the relaxation process, we need to take away any tension in the body. With the eyes closed, either sitting or lying down, work through the muscle groups, starting at the feet and tense the muscles for an internal count of three, then release and work up to the next muscle group. Go up through the face to the scalp and then back down through the shoulders to finish at the hands.
Quick fixes – jaw tension, shoulders and three conscious breaths
For times when you don’t have time to meditate, you can quickly relax the mind and body by doing the following:
If the jaw is clenched, touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth, releasing tension.
Lift the shoulders up to the ears and drop them down quickly.
Close the eyes and take three conscious breaths, listening to the breath and feeling the stomach rise and fall.
How to listen to and feel the breath - giving the Mind three things to do
Start to notice the breath, from both the sound it makes as it enters and leaves the body through the nose, and the rise and fall of the stomach (to ensure correct deep breathing). Student can breathe as they wish but be aware that breathing in through the mouth may cause a dry throat. Then notice that the nostrils are cool as we breathe in and warmer as we breathe out. As we become aware of the breath, breathing will slow down and become easier, softer and longer. Introduce different methods below.
Noticing Thoughts – dealing with recurring thoughts
If a thought comes in, treat it like a cloud blowing in and out of your awareness, or a train that does not stop at the station. Don’t add another thought, just acknowledge the fact that you have had a thought, then go back to conscious breathing.
Different Methods – counting, listening, feeling
Whilst being aware of the breath, internally count the in-breath, notice the gap, count the out-breath, notice the gap. Once this is achieved comfortably, start to lengthen the out-breath so that the same intake of air lasts longer. Aim to lengthen the out-breath over a period of time, eventually you will be able to make the out-breath last up to a minute.
Feel the contact points where you are touching the floor, chair and your hands on your lap. This takes the attention to the body and helps to bring on inner body awareness.
If you struggling to do this above, you may need guidance. There are lots of Mindfulness apps, such as Calm and Headspace, or thousands of videos on YouTube. Russell also has a video on YouTube that you can watch here: https://youtu.be/a69npRXx9Ac
There are also many online groups springing up on Facebook where mindfulness is practised. Russell has a digital class every Thursday at 5.30, for example. To access this, go to www.facebook.com/russelltreasure and look for the event.
As well as this, Russell is happy to be contacted for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.