Meditation is helpful at any age. Whether you use your meditation practice to curb stress and anxiety, supercharge your imagination, or protect your brain as it ages, knowing how to meditate properly has major benefits for your physical and mental health. From lowering your heart rate to reducing depression, even a daily two-minute meditation can make a big impact on your life.
So how can you get started? Learning how to meditate is easier than you think. With practice, you can learn to meditate right from your own home, simply by practicing how to relax your body and observe your mind.
What is meditation?
The term ‘meditation’ refers to a wide variety of practices designed to calm the mind and increase well-being. Although no one can pinpoint exactly where meditation began, mentions of meditation have appeared in ancient texts from religions all over the world. From transcendental meditation to mantras, there are many types of meditation, but all of them have something in common: the intention to connect to your body and quiet the mind.
As many of us know, this isn’t always easy. Connecting to your body, practicing mindfulness, and silencing mental chatter becomes more and more difficult with modern technology. While the buzz of a text message or the beep from an email can distract you as you go about your day, learning how to meditate can help keep your mind focused on tasks at hand.
What are the benefits of meditation for seniors?
There’s no shortage of studies on the benefits of meditation, and not just for your mental health. Meditation helps everything from your heart to your hormones. Studies show meditation can lower your blood pressure, raise concentration, and improve your mental performance as you age. It can lower inflammation, increase immune response, and even provide as many stress-busting positives as going on vacation.
With so many benefits, it’s no wonder meditation is used so broadly in the healthcare space. As early as 2011, at least one in 30 doctors were prescribing meditation to their patients instead of (or in addition to) traditional treatments, and plenty of research suggests meditation can actually change your brain. Long-term meditators have more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which helps with focus, working memory, and executive function.
How do I start meditating?
While there are many ways to get started at meditation, here are a few good places to start:
Find a quiet space
Meditation starts by setting aside some time to yourself and finding a quiet or relaxing place where you won’t be disturbed. While, in some ways, the practice of mindfulness is a form of ‘active’ meditation, if you want to learn to meditate one of the first things to do is be still. Sitting somewhere quiet and keeping your eyes closed can keept you from getting distracted by external stimuli. Taking some time alone will keep you from being disturbed.
Try out guided meditations or visualization tools
While some proponents of meditation suggest sitting in silence, using guided meditation for anxiety, stress, or relaxation works, too. The goal isn’t to try to stop your thoughts or will them into submission. Rather than forcing your brain to be quiet, simply wait and see what your mind will do.
You could imagine you’re the sky, and each one of your thoughts is a cloud drifting by. Or you can think of it as if you’re watching traffic, and each one of your thoughts is a different car. Sometimes you’re interested in chasing after one, and other times you simply let it drive by. You could picture your thoughts as appearing on a television screen, or imagine them in someone else’s voice, or see them as word bubbles floating above your head.
Separate your mind from ‘you’
No matter which path you choose, the point of meditation is to help you observe your thoughts without reacting to them. Avoid letting the thought fuse with what you think of as ‘you’. Meditation experts suggest one of the main ways to access the benefits of meditation is to be comfortable with our mind — just as it is.
Do I need equipment or classes to start meditating?
One of the benefits of meditation is that it doesn’t require any equipment: you can get started right in your home. Getting outside and observing the sounds and scents of nature, mindfully preparing a meal, or going for a walk can all be forms of meditation. So can sitting quietly before bed, writing in a journal, or just spending some time watching your thoughts float by.
Simply slowing down, learning how to relax, and observing your mind can all help you to unlock the benefits of meditation. However, if you’re looking for a more structured way to learn, guided meditations and meditation classes can be a great place to start. There are plenty of guided meditations and classes online, including Boomerang’s meditation classes for seniors . Taking a class can not only help you learn to meditate, but also connect you to others your age who are in the same boat.
No matter how you decide to learn, meditation has an incredible amount of benefits. Get started today by signing up for a Mindfulness & Meditation class with Boomerang.
Looking to get started with your wellness journey? Check out our upcoming wellness classes.