It’s a technique that’s been revered for years by those who use it and now medical experts are jumping on board too: mindfulness.
While the term sounds simple enough, there’s more to it than many think and the benefits are seemingly endless. So what exactly is mindfulness?
The American Psychology Association says mindfulness is a “psychological state of awareness” that can help reduce stress, control emotions and increase mental well-being.
It originally developed out of religious practice and prayer, but has turned into something much bigger, with proponents claiming it can “benefit the immune system, improve attention and memory, and increase the density of grey matter in the brain”.
Those who actively practice it say they feel more content and calm and find they aren’t as affected by negative or angry emotions as they used to be.
How do you practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be achieved through a number of methods and from the sounds of it, they’re all rather enjoyable! Things like meditation, yoga and tai chi are the most common ways to get into it and get the most out of it.
The idea is to really become conscious of what is happening around you and how you react to it. With our minds so busy these days, experts say there is a lot to be said for tuning out all the white noise and living quietly and peacefully in the moment.
Practicing this habit through something like meditation, even for just a few minutes a day, has been proven to help your state of mind overall and keep you calmer, happier and more peaceful.
Why is it good for over 60s?
The 60s are usually a period of great change for many. People are heading into a new phase in their live, whether it’s through retirement, downsizing, grandchildren, or winding down one part of your life and gearing up for another.
While it can be a very exciting time, change can also bring anxiety and stress about what the future holds. Some over 60s find themselves feeling a bit lost as they head into this new phase and that’s where mindfulness can help.
Creating a habit to practice mindfulness everyday has been proven to help deal with this kind of change and turn the experience in to something more positive than stressful.
Where can I start?
The best thing about mindfulness is that you can start at home on your own anytime you want. There are plenty of courses out there to help you on your way – both online and in person. With its rising popularity many experts are now running workshops that you can attend to get a hands-on experience and be guided along the path by a professional.
If you’d rather stay at home though, it’s easy to practice mindfulness in your own time and on your own terms. Try sitting in a quiet room for 20 minutes with your eyes closed and shutting off the world around you. Experts say the easiest way to do this is to focus on your breathing: think about the air as it travels through your nose, down the back of your throat and into your lungs and back out again.
If your mind drifts away and starts thinking about other things, don’t panic or get frustrated, just bring your attention back to your breathing and carry on.
If all goes well, you should be feeling the benefits of mindfulness within a few weeks and reaping the rewards for years.