In recent years, the concept of mindfulness has been gaining traction as an effective way to combat the stress and anxiety of modern life. Practising mindfulness involves focusing your attention on immediate present experiences with a compassionate, non-judgmental attitude. It is a reminder to slow down, enjoy and really savour life for what it is.
For seniors, practising mindfulness has been found to boost memory and even slow down the progress of dementia. Studies suggest that practising mindfulness and meditation can help relieve chronic stress, which is known to accelerate cognitive decline. Moreover, with all the free time we have in hand as seniors, focusing on mindfulness is a fulfilling way to slow down and kill boredom.
Practising mindfulness can be as simple as taking time out to enjoy the small joys in everyday life such as reading a book, taking a walk in the park, or meditating. A gratitude journal is also a great way to take a moment and appreciate the little things in life.
Want to get started but still wondering how to go about it? Here are five mindfulness techniques and exercises to get you going on your journey to a healthy and happy life.
You can do this exercise sitting down or even lying comfortably on the bed. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes, preferably with your eyes closed.
Start by breathing in and out slowly – breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Try to not let your mind wander and focus on your breathing. Bring awareness to your breath and notice how your body feels as you inhale and exhale slowly. Continue for a minute or two and work your way up to five to six minutes every day.
If you’re someone who indulges in light forms of exercise such as yoga, stretching or even walking, practising mindful movement can do wonders for you. Apart from helping lower your tension and stress levels, it can also improve and strengthen your mind-body connection.
So, take a moment to let go of all the distractions and pay attention to your movement and focus on breathing. Take note of how your body feels and try to sync your breathing to the body’s movement.
Mindful body scan
A body scan exercise is a great way to bring awareness to oneself, taking note of any tension or stress and subsequently releasing it.
Close your eyes while sitting or lying comfortably and bring your attention to different parts of your body. Start with your feet and work your way up to the top of your head. Focus on your breathing and take note of any sensations, emotions, or tension and work towards relaxing it.
Mindful eating is not about having the perfect diet. The idea is to observe, be present and focus on all our senses as we cook, serve and eat our food. When you are aware of the food you put into your body, you automatically tend to make choices.
While practising mindful eating, observe the texture of the food in your mouth, try identifying the ingredients, and all the different flavours. Pay close attention to how you feel as you eat your food, and also to your hunger. Avoid watching TV while eating, and chew each morsel slowly. This promotes better digestion and helps you enjoy your meal more.
Mindful meditation is all about cultivating awareness and presence. When you meditate, your breathing and heart rate slows down, blood pressure decreases and stress and tension is alleviated.
Instead of worrying about things and your day, mindfulness meditation focuses on the present, helping block out any distractions. Research suggests that meditation can help with pain, depression and boost emotional and mental well-being.
Start small and dedicate 10-15 minutes of your day to meditation. Start by sitting or lying still in a quiet place and take deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and take note of any other physical sensations that you might experience. Make an effort to clear your mind and if any thoughts are distracting you, acknowledge and treat it with kindness.