Relaxation & Meditation for Seniors

When most of us think of relaxing, it usually involves getting cozy on the couch to read a good book or watch T.V. However, there are simple techniques like deep breathing, visualization, and meditation that can help seniors reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote overall wellness for the body and mind.

Technologists have built intricate systems and developed artificial intelligence; yet nothing comes close to the human brain’s infinite power.

What makes the human brain so powerful?

Unlike other bodily organs, the brain does more than serve as a central processing unit. The brain can reach outside of its constraints allowing the human to interpret, envision, and create.

Many ailments afflict the human body when the mind is unable to thrive. Stress, anxiety, depression, poor nutrition, and the list affect the brain negatively.

When the brain is continuously mending, fending, and protecting the body from unmerited and unwarranted attacks, the mind does not flourish. For the mind to flourish, the body must be in a homeostatic state, at par functioning normally.

Disease and disorder disrupt homeostasis, thereby restricting the mind from flourishing because the brain is at war.
Are you aware of the many benefits meditating has for seniors, especially in residential assisted living?

MEDITATION AND THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION

The connection between the mind and body is a legitimate medical study.

Understanding how negative thoughts and emotions affect the body and contribute to increased sickness is not a new practice. It is ancient; yet, not regarded highly in western civilization where science and synthetic medicine restrict such practices to protect profits.

However, there are brave medical minds who practice this type of medicine. These patients are experiencing optimal results.

Regaining the essence of human existence eradicates chronic health conditions.

Specific activities have proven quite beneficial in this respect.

Yoga: A physical exercise involving movement and stationary poses combined with deep breathing. Yoga improves:

a. Flexibility
b. Strength
c. Balance
d. Stamina

Injuries can occur when practiced incorrectly, so be sure to attend a class. Many seniors have found their overall health profiles have drastically improved with yoga.

Relaxation/Deep Breathing Exercises: A cornerstone of relaxation techniques. Combine these with aromatherapy and music to enhance the complete relaxation of the body. Practice deep breathing by:

a. Sitting comfortably with your back straight
b. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach
c. Breathe in through the nose and exhale through your mouth
d. Count in cadence as you exhale and begin to feel the body relax and the mind activate as you focus on one solitary object or set of words.

Visualization: Close your eyes and envision the peaceful place. Use deep thought to escape the norm and go where the body may not physically travel.

a. See the beachfront sunset
b. Hear the sweet chirping of the birds
c. Smell the fresh scent of a pine forest
d. Feel the refreshingly cool water on your feet
e. Taste the fresh mountain air

Embrace the joy of releasing your worries and explore a refreshing place. Take no cares with you. Only when you are relaxed and ready, return to the physical world.

Self-massage: Applying and releasing pressure to the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs can be a great way to relax the body. The medical community now regards medical massage as a central therapy for orthopedic surgery patients. Why? Because it works. The healing process is enhanced. Consider the benefits of massage daily by including self-massage in your relaxation regimen. Do the following to practice self-massage:

a. Gentle chops with the edge of your hand on legs and arms
b. Tapping your fingers in cupped palms
c. Apply pressure between muscle knots
d. Knead across muscles with long light gliding strokes
e. Focus on the neck area, which tends to carry lots of stress
f. Gently massage your face in tiny circular motions.
g. Close your eyes and breathe deeply

WHY LEARNING TO RELAX IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR HEALTH

There is a considerable amount of reliable research showing the results of allowing stress and anxiety to run rampant in a person’s life.
The physical manifestations are evident all around us:

  • Muscle aches
  • Unexplained gastrointestinal disorders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Sleep disorders
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Hypertension
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Chronic pain

With age, the connection between the mind and the body is crucial to sustaining good health. Seniors who possess a calm, relaxed state of mind have far fewer disease challenges.

Furthermore, the risk of falling is much less.

Therefore, it is paramount that seniors find ways to maintain an active lifestyle with a positive state of mind to thwart the many conditions that often and unnecessarily afflict them.

WHAT EXACTLY IS MEDITATION?

Meditation works quite well for many seniors. Many seniors have a misunderstanding of what meditation entails.
It is not an emptying of the mind or sitting still chanting weird sounds.

Meditation is finding a quiet place to gather one’s thoughts and emotions so that the process of relaxation can begin.

Merely sitting still for a few minutes and slowing one’s breathing is the beginning of relaxing. While deep breathing fills the body with much-needed oxygen, seniors can focus their minds on one thing that brings them peace.

Resist allowing the mind to meander about, where random thoughts enter and exit leaving stress instead of peace. Let your focus be on a single image, like a lake, a mountain, a meadow, where peace is easily attainable.

Cognitively, meditation is quite essential. By escaping the mundane and random stress of the world, the brain can function more efficiently.

As a result, it allows a senior to focus on a single image, which trains the brain and lessens the likelihood of dementia.

Concentration, memory, and attention will enhance at an age where many are chronically losing these benefits.

A wise man once wrote, whatever things are lovely, genuine, honest, of a good rapport – think on these things.

4 WAYS MEDITATION BENEFITS SENIORS

Meditating is not a complicated undertaking. It is a peaceful journey. It’s not an empty activity but a purposeful one, and the benefits are numerous. Here are four reasons to begin meditating today:

  1. Preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s or other dementias
  2. Increasing energy and enhancing the immune system by reducing cortisol levels reduce stress on the body.
  3. Reducing and eliminating high blood pressure.
  4. A reduction in the risk of stress-related diseases (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol) Stimulate Your “Feel Good” Hormones by Meditating

Meditation enhances other areas of a senior’s life, too. The psychological health of a senior is often compromised.

Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are far too common. At a time in life where one should be celebrating, many live-in dark doldrums within the mind.

Meditating enhances the psychological profile of a senior. Meditation is proven to be the central theme to recovering from:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Loneliness

Regaining control of the body by relaxing it and focusing on the mind makes for a far happier senior. Meditating releases endorphins, which are hormones that act as analgesics. In other words, these hormones take away the pain.

When seniors meditate, one may very well find that life has just begun.

MEDITATION: IN-DEPTH

What do we know about the safety of meditation? Safety is a common question when undertaking any treatment.

However, safety is an even more important question when a senior is considering a treatment or therapy.

Unlike synthetic medicine and surgery, meditation is safe. The meditator is not in an altered state of mind – that’s inebriation.

The meditator is relaxed, and the body connects with the mind to create an internal environment where optimization can occur.

The truth is, meditation brings the body into homeostasis, which is its natural state.

The safety concern may very well lay with an absence of meditation.

HOW DOES A PERSON MEDITATE?

Meditation is not one-size-fits-all therapy. There are many different methods to mediate. However, regardless of the method of meditation, all have four essential elements:

  • A quiet location
  • A specific and very comfortable stance or posture – one might sit, lay down, walk casually, or crouch.
  • A sharp focus is brought on by visualizing a place, object, a set of words (some use Scripture), or breathing techniques.
  • An openness, that is to say, allowing distractions to dissipate and relax.

Meditator resists responding to external stimuli when seniors focus and relax without interruption.

Center yourself, gain control of your body, and allow your mind to be.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MEDITATION, ACCORDING TO SCIENCE

Multiple scientifically based studies have evaluated the effectiveness of meditation.
The results are precise.
It works, and it works in multiple ways on multiple diseases and disorders. Meditation does have a medical benefit that complements traditional western medicine.
Below is some of the evidence-based research proving the effectiveness of meditation.

For Pain
Research proves that meditation reduces pain, but the results are somewhat mixed. Why? Meditation’s effects are dependent upon the individual to commit and focus. However, in some clinical studies, researchers discovered that meditation activates certain areas of the brain in response to pain, making it optimal in treating pain when combined with opiates or without them. Therefore, combining meditation with opioid therapy, less medication is a strong possibility and for less time.

For High Blood Pressure
Clinical studies have found that meditation has a positive effect on hypertension. A trial of over 200 people has found that meditation may lower blood pressure for those most at risk. This study also found the psychological effects of meditation may have contributed to a reduction or decreased risk of hypertension. In other words, because meditation improves the psychological profile of people, it improves the cardiac profile. Remember, the body is one cohesive unit. What benefits one area may also benefit another.

For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) afflicts millions of Americans. While many are senior-aged women, IBS is responsible for a most complicated and miserable life. The unfortunate reality of IBS is that it has no etiological cause, that is, no concrete physical root. Therefore, it is a syndrome, and physicians must do extensive trial and error to diagnose and treat IBS. Meditation works with IBS. The clinical trials are too small to make strong claims. However, over 70 women suffering from IBS in a clinical trial reduced the severity of symptoms after eight weeks of meditation. Another study concluded that meditation improved the pain and quality of life of IBS patients. It doesn’t hurt to try.

For Smoking Cessation
Smoking is a vice that grips many Americans and causes irreparable damage to the body. Many try to quit, but the addictive properties of nicotine are as strong as any common street drug. Integrating meditation into many smoking cessation programs and the results are promising. Over ten studies have concluded that meditation reduces cravings and relapse. The clinical trial approach to evaluating meditation is new to western civilization, but it is evolving. Many of the trials are small and for short periods due to funding; yet they show promising results to merit increased funding, which will create more extensive studies with more reliable results.

Many studies are published and available. There seems to be a common trend, however. Meditation creates the ability for the brain to reduce cravings. In other words, seniors have the opportunity to regain control over their desires. They are empowered. The resurgence of power once again takes addiction and gives the addicted person the ability to choose. Breaking the grip of addiction and other conditions can happen with mediation. Other conditions that have been positively affected by meditation include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-esteem
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Chronic Inflammatory Conditions

MEDITATION IS AN ANCIENT PRACTICE

While heavily accredited to eastern cultures, meditation helps people around the world.

What one chooses to meditate upon is their choice. How one chooses to meditate and for how long is also their choice.

There are great benefits in meditation, scientifically studied and experientially known.

Seniors should make meditation a daily routine to improve their quality of life.

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