Healthy Aging at all Stages of Life

Healthy Aging at all Stages of Life




What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a psychological process. It is paying attention purposely in the present moment, non-judgmentally. The practice of focusing complete attention to the experience (s) occurring in the present, on a moment by moment basis, without judgment, which one can develop through practiced meditation and through other training.

Mindful Meditation Practices – There are several method exercises designed to develop mindfulness meditation. Breathe, Body Scan and Sound meditation are a few we share in this Hu Health Share.

BREATH MINDFULNESS – Lay straight on the floor, in bed, sit in a straight-backed chair or sit on the floor using a cushion, close your eyes, breathe in and out several times – slowly – bringing your attention to either the sensations of breathing in and out of your nostrils or follow the movements of the abdomen when breathing in and out. In this mindful meditation practice, don’t try to control your breathing, simply be aware of your natural breathing rhythm. When engaged in this exercise, your mind will wander often and run off to other thoughts (kids, work, errands undone, car repair). When you notice this happening calmly, passively and in acceptance, take a few deeper in/out breaths in a non-judgmental way, return to focusing on your breath (in and out). If your mind starts to wander, reset yourself, slowly open and shut your mouth, slowly flex your feet and hands, left to right a couple times. Then redirect your breathing and your focus back to breathe and mindfulness.

Mindfulness Meditation should last 30 minutes a few times a week. If your are unable to commit to 30 minutes, allow yourself at least 15 minutes and use a timer as an aid.

BODY SCAN MINDFULNESS – This exercise helps develop a mindful awareness of your bodily sensations. Research suggests that this mindfulness practice can help reduce stress, improve well-being, and decrease tension, aches and pains in the body. Body-scan meditation attention is directed at various areas of the body; noting body sensations that happen in the present moment. Once in position, you will scan your body head to toe “feeling” sensations and relaxing the body along the way.

Body scan can be performed in several ways; lay down, sit, or another posture (preferably keeping one hand available to lay on the stomach along the way for checking in with yourself). Make sure your shoulders are pressed into your grounding source. Initially, laying flat is best, on the floor, a yoga mat or in a bed. Begin taking a long inward breath and slowly releasing. Then close your eyes and become mindful of every part of your body. Tap into YOU – how your head presses into the floor, the bed, the chair or back of a wall; how your bottom pulls into the floor/bed/mat. Be conscious of what that weight feels like. Wiggle toes and fingers slowly, in a left/right position as you set your position. If your are in a standing position, ground your feet into the floor/mat/carpet/sand. Feel the weight of your entire body pulling into your grounding point. Notice the sensations of the grounding points behind your head, under your feet, back, bottom, (sweat, coldness, vibrations, warmth, emotion, pressure). If it is your first time doing this type work you could experience tears/crying spell. It is fine. Take deep breathes along the way. You should feel relaxation forming and the mind start to quiet. You may feel heaviness or a feeling of lightness in the body, pulling you into your grounding point. Continue deep breaths, drawing in more oxygen, which energizes the body. As you slowly exhale, the goal is to experience more deep relaxation and “feel” your body.

The throat, jaw, hands, feet shoulders and top of head tend to tense. “Check in” as you are in process to be aware and focus on softening these points – roll yourself back into your pressed grounded position if necessary. Be aware of your body. When you are ready to end your session, take deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

Body-scan mindfulness should last 30 minutes a few times a week. If your are unable to commit to 30 minutes, allow yourself at least 15-20 minutes and use a timer as an aid.

Breathe easier with natural healing properties found in eucalyptus and other essential oils. Relax by using oils with massage or add to a diffuser during mindful meditation.

SOUND MEDITATION MINDFULNESS – Enhances awareness of sounds and the areas of focus and clarity that is cultivated when practicing mindfulness meditation. It is often found in various Buddhist traditions including Zen and Vipassana.

One of the simplest, most direct ways to connect with the present moment and further cultivate awareness is to become mindful of our immediate space and the sounds around us. Intentional awareness of sound helps return us to present, stabilizes the mind and refines our sense of hearing and ability to listen. Listening today can be a real challenge for many.

To experience sound mindfulness, you need 5-15 minutes, settle into your space, sit with a cup of tea, lay in a quiet space, or soaking in a tub, quiet the mind and pay close attention to the sounds around you. Start to become aware of your breath, then shift your awareness to the sounds present in the moment, continue breathing. Without straining for or conjuring sounds, listen and let your ears fill with the sounds, near and far away – not allowing the mind to wander – you are listening. Be mindful of trying to listen for identification of or labeling of words, sounds, etc., and instead let all thoughts and judgments be non existent, allowing them to fade and focus on what sound is between the noise you hear. This is deep listening. If your mind fixates on a sound, breathe and return to flow of sounds present in that moment.

When your sound mindfulness session is complete (via timer or natural occurrence), shift awareness back to your breath and slowly open your eyes.

Sound mindfulness should last 5-15 minutes a few times a week. If your are unable to commit to 5-15 minutes, allow yourself at least 5 minutes, use a timer as an aid. First thing in the morning or right before bed is best for this practice for newbies. You can do this before you rise from bed in the morning, while waiting for the coffee to brew or step out onto your patio, balcony, pool area after dinner and sit for the 5 minutes and go through process.

Improve your health and overall well-being through mindful relaxation.

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