Mindfulness Meditation can be beneficial to women later in life in several different ways. Mindfulness can be cultivated using a variety of methods, but for the purpose of this post, we will focus on mindfulness meditation.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that mindfulness and meditation are two of my favourite subjects. With good reason, as you will soon discover. En plus, our ‘Connect with Horses’ personal empowerment workshops are based on mindfulness and meditation.
But what IS mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness meditation is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting this moment without judgment. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness meditation find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past and are better able to form rewarding and lasting relationships with others.
Anxiety about the Future
As we get older, we may find that we fret more often about the future: Will we remain healthy in body and mind? Will we be able to cope if we lose our spouse/partner? Will we have to cope with loneliness in our old age? Are we financially secure enough in a politically and economically changing world?
Mindfulness meditation, if practised regularly, can reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion, loneliness and irritability. Mindfulness meditation reduces the production of stress hormones, so people who meditate regularly are calmer, more patient and more content. In this way, mindfulness meditation can help us keep anxiety about an unpredictable future at bay as we get older.
Many of us worry about losing our memory as we get older, especially as the first signs of normal, age-related forgetfulness appear in our lives. Mindfulness meditation can improve your memory. It can protect our working memory, increase our creativity and extend our attention span. It can also increase our reaction speed and our mental endurance.
Mindfulness meditation can delay the thinning of certain areas of the brain that naturally occurs with ageing. Mindfulness slows the progression of age-related cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s dementia. Mindfulness meditation may also slow ageing at the cellular level by promoting chromosomal health and resilience.
Certain diseases that can cause chronic pain are more prevalent in older adults. Mindfulness increases our ability to cope with chronic pain. It increases grey matter in areas associated with self-awareness and self-control.
Mindfulness meditation can dramatically reduce pain and our emotional reaction to it. Studies suggest that pain levels can be reduced by 57 to 93%, depending on aptitude. In an effort to self-medicate, people with chronic pain often become substance (pain killers) abusers. Mindfulness can reduce addictions like the abuse of legal and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol intake.
Stronger Immune system
As we get older, our immune system that protects us against infectious and cancerous disease, becomes less effective. Mindfulness meditation can boost a flagging immune system. People who regularly meditate are admitted to hospital far less often for diseases like cancer, heart disease and a variety of infections. In fact, mindfulness meditation can reduce the risks of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease and it can decrease the severity of cardiovascular disease should it appear.
We often have to cope with disturbed sleep patterns as the years go by. Restorative sleep is essential to the proper functioning our bodies and our minds. Mindfulness meditation can improve our sleep quality AND quantity. Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia and sleep problems. Mindfulness meditation promotes calmness and helps reduce rumination that can disrupt sleep.
Mindfulness meditation can help build happier relationships by decreasing emotional reactivity. Couples who actively practised mindfulness saw improvements to their happiness with their relationship. The practice of mindfulness allows couples to be present in their relationships and to more quickly overcome stressful situations in the relationship. Mindfulness increases empathy and compassion, not only in intimate relationships but in all relationships, making relationships more rewarding and sustainable.
Mindful meditation makes it easier to savour the pleasures of life, especially as we get older. It helps us to be fully engaged in all our activities, and it creates a greater capacity in us to deal with adverse events. However, the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation are dose-related – to be effective, it needs to be practised regularly. Prof Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world-recognised expert on mindfulness meditation and stress reduction, recommends 45 minutes of meditation at least six days a week.
Developing a mindfulness meditation practice can be a challenging exercise, especially on your own. That is one of the reasons we created our mindfulness and meditation workshops here in the south of France – to offer our guests instruction and support while they discover and experiment with different techniques, so as to enable them to find a way to practice mindfulness meditation that can be seamlessly incorporated into their lives. Since it is easier to learn by copying an expert, we use equine-guided mindfulness meditation to help our guests master this method.
All the knowledge and experience I have gained in presenting these workshops are now available in e-book form: Mindfulness and Meditation in the South Of France: Staying focused in a fast-paced World. The printed option will soon be available, also from Amazon.
What do you think about mindfulness meditation? Is it just another fashionable fad that will soon be out-of-date or does it have lasting value?
It has been said that mindfulness is the exact opposite of multitasking and that multitasking can be detrimental to one’s peace of mind. What do you think?