Keeping your mind and body in tune with one another becomes more and more vital with age. At a certain point in life, you probably realized that physical health and mental health often go hand in hand. However, implementing the necessary habits in order to procure and sustain a state of psychosomatic harmony is easier said than done, especially as a young adult. When you're making your way in the world, life can have a way of making you feel stretched thin and overwhelmed. Your primary goal is simply to survive, to make it to work on time and keep your bills paid.
As you near retirement, you've accumulated a lot of wisdom throughout the course of your life and have so much more time to devote to yourself rather than merely making ends meet. You may find your mental well-being and physical fitness — and the direct link between them — become your biggest priorities. Here's a closer look at what movement meditation is and how it can help you keep both your mind and body active and healthy as an older adult.
Most people associate meditation with crossed legs, upturned palms, attentive breathing and focused stillness, but meditation doesn't have to look like this. In fact, for some, maintaining a calm and introspective awareness is easier with movement. After all, the purpose of meditation is to train your brain to find inner stillness in a world that's rarely ever still at all.
Movement meditation can come in many forms, from meditative walking and gardening to yoga and tai chi. By utilizing physical activity to deepen the connection between your mind, your body and the present moment, movement meditation can be highly effective in deepening your own awareness, sharpening your focus, reducing stress levels and boosting your immunity. At Collinwood, our staff frequently encourages movement meditation for residents who want to implement more reflective elements into their daily exercise routine.
Meditative walking is particularly versatile for older adults. Best during the cooler parts of the day like morning or evening, it's a chance to get out in the sunshine, soak up some vitamin D and practice being in the present moment. Feel the breeze rustling through the trees and shrubs, listen to the bird songs and take note of the kind of clouds floating by.
Consider walking a bit more slowly than you normally do, or even going barefoot to appreciate that sensation of soft grass and soil beneath your feet. Let each thought that materializes in your mind pass gracefully through it without clinging to it; if you catch yourself wandering off into the recesses of your own thoughts, gently guide your mind back to the present moment and take a look around.
If there are buildings around you, notice their architecture, the flow of traffic, the shapes and hues of mountains in the distance — all the while, exercising your body and maintaining steady movement. Take note of this, too! Turn your attention occasionally to how each step feels, the steadiness of your breath and the pace of your heart rate. Whether you realize it or not, you're strengthening the link between your mind and body with each step by promoting the symbiotic stimulation of both.
Meditative walking is also a wonderful way to get to know your surroundings better. Learning your neighborhood may lead to meeting new people and forming bonds with those who may have interests similar to yours or be in a similar place in life. Before you know it, you may be attending local events and activities and becoming an active part in your community simply because you spend time practicing mindfulness in motion.
Practices such as yoga and tai chi may seem a bit more complex at first, but give yourself the benefit of the doubt and don't expect perfection from yourself right off the bat. Numerous studies have shown these exercises to yield a wealth of physical, mental and even spiritual benefits if you can acclimate to the discipline of them. This is due to how the sequences of flowing movements couple with changes in breathing, mental focus and coordination to train your body and mind to adapt to the ebb and flow of your motions.
Keeping your body and mind in tune with one another is an essential part of attaining inner peace and experiencing your life in its fullest potential. Almost any form of movement or physical activity can become meditative when practiced with a sense of awareness and guidance of breath. Whether you're enjoying an evening walk beneath the shade of neighborhood trees, mastering every muscle of your body through daily tai chi or even gardening or dancing with the purpose of mindfulness, keeping your body in touch with your mind is one of the best ways to promote your personal health and happiness as you enter the golden years of life.