In its simplest form, meditation is a mental exercise that allows you to work toward calming your body and mind by being present in the moment and practicing mindfulness.
Individuals meditate for many reasons, whether as part of a spiritual exercise or to take advantage of the potential benefits it can have on your overall mental (and sometimes even physical) wellbeing.
Have you always wanted to see if meditation is right for you? Keep reading to learn more about how to get started.
Benefits of meditation
According to several studies, meditation can have a number of beneficial effects for older adults on both their physical and mental health. For example, meditation:
- Can help to reduce stress and anxiety
- May improve your sleep1
- Has been shown to support normal blood pressure2
Types of meditation
Depending on your overall meditation goals, there are a number different types of meditation, as well as different techniques that you can start to implement.
Meditation can be unguided, with just you and your thoughts, or guided, meaning you have someone lead you through the process in person or through an audio or video recording.
Here are a few great options for anyone just starting out on their meditation journey!
- Loving-kindness meditation: The goal of this exercise is to send love and kindness out into the world, as well as open yourself up to receive them in return.
- Body scan: This meditation is focused on every single area of the body and focuses on relaxing each and every part of yourself one location at a time.
- Mindfulness meditation: Used in almost every form of meditation, mindfulness mediation is about being present and aware. This exercise can even be done throughout the course of your day-to-day life (e.g., focusing on sights, sounds, smells and sensations as you run errands, take a walk, participate in a much-loved hobby, etc.).
- Breath awareness meditation: Similar to mindfulness meditation, this exercise focuses solely on being present and aware in the moment while concentrating on your breathing.
TIP: Not sure which type of meditation is right for you? There are several apps currently on the market that will allow you to experiment with different guided meditations right from your home until you find the one that’s the right fit!
To successfully meditate, you don’t need much more than yourself and a quiet place to relax and unwind with your thoughts. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can be extremely beneficial. To get started:
- Pick a routine and stick to it. Depending on your needs, meditation can be used as a great start to your day, as a relaxing break or a calming way to close out the evening.
- Get comfortable. Choose a quiet, calm location to meditate, as well as a natural position for your body. Be sure to close your eyes and breathe normally.
- Start small. Begin by trying one meditation exercise for one to three minutes several times a week, eventually working up to meditating every day for longer periods of time.
- Be present. The most important part of meditation is being present and mindful throughout the exercise. If you find yourself getting distracted by external thoughts or other distractions around you, take a moment to acknowledge why before returning to where you left off.
- Don’t focus on the results. Stay present in the current moment and try to avoid dwelling on the end goal.
Looking to implement more health and wellness ideas into your life? Check out our other blogs for information about supporting a healthy immune system, the importance of a balanced diet and more tips for older adults!
1 Martires J et al. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2015;6:547-52.
2 Marquez PHP et al. J Hum Hypertens. 2019;33:237-47.