5 Types of Meditation: What Type is Best For Seniors?
by Holly Klamer
Meditation is a great tool that seniors can use to stay relaxed during stressful times. The process of transitioning into 'retirement communities' (https://www.seniorguidance.org/senior-living/retirement-communities/) can be quite overwhelming for many seniors, and using meditation to help can be a very effective strategy. However, there are many different types of meditation to choose from, and it can be difficult to know which one will work best for your needs. Here are several different meditation methods and how they work for seniors.
This is a very popular form of meditation that stems from the 'Buddhist tradition' (https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/what-meditation). In mindfulness meditation, one essentially attempts to empty the mind by naturally letting thoughts flow in and out. You can focus on your breathing, or you can pick a mantra to focus on to help you stay grounded. While you’re meditating, you may find that your thoughts wander away from your breath - that’s okay. Just notice it and then draw your thoughts back to your breath or your mantra. This is a great meditation tool for seniors because it can really be done anywhere and doesn’t require much effort. It does require some practice in the beginning, but once you master it, it’s a very effective way to manage anxiety.
Qi Gong is a Chinese practice that combines meditation and movement. It’s excellent for active seniors who derive relaxation and pleasure from exercise. Qi Gong focuses heavily on using the breath as a centering force, which can then be used as a tool to calm down during experiences of stress or anxiety. Qi Gong also has many physical benefits - it naturally improves ease of breathing and posture in seniors. Because of the movement aspect of Qi Gong, it may not be the best choice for all seniors.
Heart Rhythm Meditation
Heart rhythm meditation is a somewhat spiritual form of meditation that focuses on synchronizing the breath with the heartbeat. It helps you develop a focused awareness of your body and mind, and combines physical and emotional aspects of meditation. This is an ideal choice for seniors who want a holistic form of meditation that addresses multiple aspects of stress. The breathing methods in heart rhythm meditation do require some practice, so many people find it’s most helpful to start with a guided version of this meditation until you’ve mastered it.
Transcendental meditation is one of the most famous forms of meditation, and it comes from the 'Hindu tradition' (https://www.thewayofmeditation.com.au/blog/hindu-meditation/). However, it can be quite difficult to learn and is not for the faint of heart. On one hand, this can be good for seniors in retirement, who have plenty of free time to take on learning a new skill. However, it may not be a good fit for seniors who just want a form of meditation that’s easy to master. This form of meditation revolves around a mantra, which you would focus on for roughly 20 minutes once or twice per day. It can be practiced with spiritual elements, but it is not always a spiritual form of meditation. It is also sometimes incorporated in yoga practice.
This is another form of meditation that is derived from the Chinese Buddhist tradition. It is typically practiced in a seated position, whether that be on the floor or in a chair. During the meditation, you practice counting your breaths, typically moving between one to 10 and back again. It is quite similar to mindfulness meditation, because they come from the same Buddhist roots. You can also practice this form of meditation without counting on your breaths, but this is more difficult. Some people love this style of meditation, while others don’t find it guided enough to be helpful - it’s all up to personal preference.
Meditation has many 'positive health benefits' (https://mindworks.org/meditation-knowledge/meditation-for-seniors/) for seniors, so it’s a very helpful tool to add into your daily routine. If you’re not sure where to start with meditation, look for guided meditation tapes, videos, or classes in the meditation style that appeals to you. Keep in mind that meditation is a very personal journey, and you may have to try multiple forms of meditation before you find one that really works for you. Meditation is just one of the many forms of 'senior living help' (https://www.seniorlivinghelp.org/) that can make the transition into retirement easier for you and your family.
Holly loves to write on issues related to seniors, aging and retirement. Holly is a frequent contributor on many blogs and websites that help provide comprehensive resources on senior living options.