Adelaide, Australia—New research from Flinders University shows that developing mindfulness is a natural part of aging.
Getting old usually brings with it many challenges, but one benefit of aging, according to Flinders University, is that we natural develop mindfulness skills. [READ: Mindfulness For Beginners]
Healthy aging researchers state that when we compare older people to younger people, one of the key differences is that older people exhibit increased mindfulness.
Mindfulness, the state of being consciously aware of the present moment and without judgment, naturally grows as we age. This would seem to explain why older people are less reactive to thoughts, feelings, and external stimuli than younger people are.
These developing mindfulness skills become increasingly important as we get older. The ability to focus on the present moment helps to decrease stress and to maintain both physical and mental health. Being able to observe events mindfully instead of simply reacting to them helps older people to remain mentally balanced and to avoid the stress and escalating heartrates that reactivity can cause.
Mindfulness skills are also important for overcoming many of the challenges of later life while remaining mentally well.
Study Reveals How Mindfulness Skills Develop
Tim Windsor [Associate Professor, Flinders University] co-authored the study, in which 623 participants aged between 18 and 86 years-old, were given an online survey. The survey asked questions relating to present-moment attention, acceptance, and non-attachment, and how those qualities related to wellbeing.
The survey tested their levels of mindfulness. This is the ability to be nonjudgmentally aware of the present moment. Mindfulness is a practice that has been proven to have numerous health benefits, including decreasing stress and promoting positive emotions.
Flinders University’s research revealed that people between middle-age and old-age have increased levels of present-moment mindfulness that is essentially to continued wellbeing as we age.
This was one of the first age-related studies on mindfulness of its kind.
Leeann Mahlo, lead study author and a mindfulness investigator, says, “The ability to appreciate the temporary nature of personal experiences may be particularly important for the way people manage their day-to-day goals across the second half of life… “We found that positive relationships between aspects of mindfulness and wellbeing became stronger from middle age onwards.
This is backed by research performed by UCLA. Researchers found that an 8-week mindfulness meditation program reduced loneliness in older adults. Loneliness is associated with increased activity in inflammation-related genes that promote various diseases. Therefore, by reducing loneliness mindfulness helps older people to decreases their risks of developing various illnesses.
Research has also shown that meditation can reduce cognitive decline.
If mindfulness has particular benefits in later life, this could be translated into tailored training approaches to enhance wellbeing in the older population.
“Our findings suggest that if mindfulness has particular benefits in later life, this could be translated into tailored training approaches to enhance wellbeing in the older populations,” says Mahlo.
Here she alludes to various mindfulness trainings that could be given to older people.
There are many different types of mindfulness practices that older people can perform. These help to develop mindfulness skills and to keep the mind focused on the present moment. [READ: Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try].
Tips for developing mindfulness skills:
- Be mindfully aware of thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental way. This reduces worries and anxiety.
- Understand that thoughts and feelings are temporary and will naturally pass in time. This helps to reduce the feelings of worry that negative thoughts can cause.
- Practice different mindfulness exercises (refer to the link above).
- Try practicing mindfulness at work
You might also like to try some anti-aging meditation techniques.