By Ora Nadrich
The benefits of mindfulness are many, especially as we age.
Boomers entering their sunset years often struggle with embracing aging. I believe that those who practice Mindfulness can often accept and navigate aging with greater ease. In addition, studies show that Mindfulness may slow cognitive decline and promote psychological well-being.
The oldest Baby Boomers, born in 1946, are well into their 70s. As they attempt to prolong their health and vitality into their 80s, many look for a way to reinvent old age. Not content with withering away in an easy chair or fading into obscurity, they hope to capitalize on their wisdom and do their best to age with tranquility.
What is Mindfulness?
The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines Mindfulness as:
“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”.
Mindfulness offers a way to both keep our minds sharp and orient ourselves to an acceptance of what this next stage of life means in the full breadth of our lifespan. Instead of bemoaning what we leave behind. In other words, Mindfulness helps us to counteract the unpleasant consequences of aging with grace and acceptance.
Benefits of Mindfulness
What are the benefits of Mindfulness? Mindfulness is associated with numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Here are some of the key ones:
Mindfulness can reduce stress by helping individuals focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can activate the body’s relaxation response, leading to a reduction in stress levels.
Improved Mental Health
Often used as a therapeutic technique in the treatment of various mental health conditions, Mindfulness can help decrease anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may also help individuals gain better control over their thoughts and emotions.
Enhanced Emotional Regulation
Practicing mindfulness can improve emotional regulation by increasing self-awareness and promoting a non-reactive awareness of emotions. This can lead to healthier responses to challenging situations.
Increased Focus and Concentration
Mindfulness involves training the mind to be present and attentive. Regular practice seems to enhance cognitive functions such as attention, concentration, and memory.
Better Physical Health
The mind-body connection emphasized in mindfulness practices is thought to contribute to improvements in various physical health outcomes. For example, it may lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and promote overall well-being.
Enhanced Sleep Quality
Mindfulness techniques, particularly relaxation and meditation practices, can help improve sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing the impact of racing thoughts that can interfere with sleep.
Mindfulness encourages self-reflection and a heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness can lead to personal growth and a better understanding of oneself.
Mindfulness-based interventions are thought to be effective in managing chronic pain conditions. By changing the way you perceive and respond to pain, mindfulness can contribute to pain relief and improved quality of life.
A Mindfulness practice often leads to increased resilience, helping individuals navigate challenges and setbacks more effectively. It encourages a non-judgmental acceptance of difficult circumstances.
Transformation Through Mindfulness
I’ve always been a seeker – someone who wanted to know about the deeper meaning of life. But when my older sister had a nervous breakdown it became a life-changing experience that put me on an extensive psycho-spiritual journey to find out the workings of the mind. I studied many spiritual modalities and became certified in Mindfulness and meditation.
I transformed my life through Mindfulness when I realized there was an actual practice, I could use to become more present in my life. I discovered that I wanted to devote my life to helping others understand themselves from the depths of their being. Practicing and coaching others about Mindfulness has contributed enormously to my personal growth.
When I started practicing Mindfulness, I immediately started to feel much more present, and feelings of gratitude and compassion began to increase. It was as if my senses became more attuned and I had a more heightened awareness of myself, others, and my environment.
We all have the ability to practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an inherent ability each of us has. It’s possible to implement Mindfulness in all that we do. For example, we can eat slowly and really taste our food without rushing or take a leisurely walk while paying close attention to the sounds of nature around us. By training our minds to be more present, we find ourselves much more appreciative of the moments of our lives and less inclined to sprint through them. We can stop ourselves from fixating on grim thoughts about the future and appreciate the here and now. And, by living with more awareness, we adopt strategies that support our well-being.
Mindfulness is here for us, but we must use it, or it remains a valuable element wasted. It can help us when we feel sad or hopeless by making us more aware of what’s troubling us. Understanding why we feel the way we do can help us figure out what to do about it. It’s as if it stops time and sits patiently with us, as though holding our hand. Often, I feel that Mindfulness is saying to me,
“It’s okay. You can be with what you’re feeling and take as much time as you need to work through it with compassion for yourself.”
The importance of being present
The main point of being present is to remain fully awake and aware in each of the moments of our lives. Rather than spending time worrying about the future or lamenting the past, remaining present helps us to fully appreciate the moment in which we are most alive right now.
Being present helps to bring about a shift in consciousness, changing and elevating our level of awareness. When this shift occurs, we experience a transformation and begin to see ourselves, this life, and the universe as one. Think of Mindfulness as an innate superpower. It’s like having metacognition, which means we have a heightened awareness of what we’re thinking in the moment and a heightened awareness of our understanding of what we’re thinking and why.
In essence, it means we’re using higher-order thinking skills when we actively practice Mindfulness, and it can be powerful. I consider it my North Star, always pointing me in the right direction.
How Do I Practice Mindfulness?
One way to practice Mindfulness is to focus on our breath. By connecting to our breath, and paying attention to our inhale and exhale, we connect to the present moment. The more present we are, the more aware we are. And the more aware we are, the more present we are. It keeps evolving from there.
Awareness of the moment, and our place in it, orients us toward an accepting, non-judgmental mindset. In this way, Mindfulness helps to promote wellbeing. With a Mindfulness practice, your negative perceptions of aging may recede. As a result, you may accept and navigate this time of life with less stress and a greater sense of peace.
Mindful meditation is a form of meditation that typically involves focusing on the breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, or emotions to cultivate awareness and presence. It’s a key component of a mindfulness practice, used often as a means to develop mindfulness skills.
Meditation for being in the moment of “now”.
To integrate a regular Mindfulness practice into your life, start with this Mindful meditation:
- Find a quiet place to sit.
- Close your eyes.
- Feel yourself where you are right now.
- Note the room: any sounds, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, etc.
- Invite yourself to be present in your meditation.
- Tell yourself it’s okay to let everything and everyone go.
- Put your focus and awareness onto your breath.
- Take a few deep breaths in and out. If your mind begins to wander at any time, bring your focus and awareness back to your breath, which will always bring you back to the present moment.
- Say silently, “I am in this moment of now.” Say silently, “Now is all there is.” Say silently, “I accept this moment I am in.”
- You can repeat this to yourself as many times as you wish.
- When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Be aware that you are still in the moment of “now,” and that there is no need to rush out of it.
The Power of Mindfulness
I feel passionate about the power of Mindfulness. I believe this type of practice not only holds the key to keeping our minds sharp and heightening our awareness, but it also raises consciousness — both individually and collectively. Life is a gift, and we are here in this world to reach our greatest potential and to fulfill our destiny. To know that we’re part of something bigger than just ourselves helps us to think of ourselves as a part of a collective consciousness. We realize that each and every one of us is part of a unifying force that connects us to all that exists.
Practicing Mindfulness keeps us aware of the impermanence of life. Therefore, we have a greater appreciation of it. We care. Life matters. The moments of our lives matter. We don’t want to waste them. Not a single one.
FAQs About Mindfulness
Below are some frequently asked questions about mindfulness:
About the Author: Ora Nadrich
Ora Nadrich is a pioneering Mindfulness expert, international keynote speaker and coach, and the founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking. A sought-after expert in the fields of Mindfulness, transformational thinking, and self-discovery, she is the author of Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever, and Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity, named “one of the 100 Best Mindfulness Books of All Time” by BookAuthority, Mindfulness and Mysticism: Connecting Present Moment Awareness with Higher States of Consciousness, and Time to Awaken: Changing the World with Conscious Awareness. Learn more at oranadrich.com.