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Mindfulness and aging 

The Council on Aging Ottawa organized a workshop titled: Mindfulness and Aging.

The objective of this workshop was to explain what is the link between mindfulness and ageing.

The presenter, Guilhème Pérodeau Ph. D. made this workshop very interactive. She first explained what mindfulness is and then she guided her audience through a few simple exercises.

So what is Mindfulness?

There are many different definitions of mindfulness. Dr. Pérodeau introduced to us 3 different definitions of mindfulness:

1. Jon Kabat – Zinn American medical doctor – He introduced mindfulness in medical schools. Dr. Kabat says: mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmental way.

2. Thich Nhat Hanh – a Vietnamese monk. He introduced mindfulness in Europe.  According to Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness can show us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, mind and the world. His teachings say: We should avoid harming ourselves and others.

3. Sylvia Boorstein – an American author. “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. Mindfulness is the acceptance of the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. ” ― Sylvia Boorstein

A good or bad experience will not last.

Dr. Pérodeau puts these definitions to the test during the workshop.
She explains the 3 foundational pillars of mindfulness:
1- intention – it is not always possible, but I will try to be mindful.
2- attention – to the experience, to the body, emotions.
3- attitude – observe in a not judgmental way.

Imagine yourself observing the clouds passing by. Observe, be aware, focus. Take some time for yourself, you will become more stable and centred.
Our brain is wired in a way that we react to negative things. Giving feedback to somebody, you can use the sandwich method – one positive, one negative and one positive.

One of the bases of mindfulness is meditation and breathing. Take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale.  Notice what happens when you breathe deeply? – you calm down.

Dr. Pérodeau addresses a question: So what mindfulness has to do with ageing? Below are the answers she received from the seniors in her audience.

Mindfulness and aging

As we grow older we get more of:
Aches and pains
Challenges
Memory loss
Fear of losing your Independence
Fear of isolation
Physical changes associated with ageing
Learning to accept the new me
Long term care
Changing family conversation – where do I stay
Downsizing
Falls
Social invisibility, ageism – to be discriminated because of our age
Losing friends
Worries about finances
Death and dying; spiritual path – recognizing the impermanence of life
Physical change – ageing is not a disease
Risk of developing chronic illnesses
Risk of dementia
Cancer
Less energy
Change of values
What is meaningful

Those become especially important at the age of retirement or past retirement we don’t have a career anymore.

Emotions associated with ageing:
Sensations of negativity
Anxiety
Tightness
Physical body image
Mental
Emotional
Cultural
Heaviness
Pressure
Discrimination
Questioning the meaning of life

Mindfulness practice can regulate those sensations

Example 1
I am in pain.
You can control your attitude, the way you react to your pain using mindfulness. In a case of chronic pain – the tenser you become – the angrier you may become. If you go through a painful event, physical or psychological, you can’t do anything about. Mindfulness is not going to make your acute pain disappear. I will help change your attitude about it.

Example 2
I lost my husband.
Resilience to stress varies from Individual to individual. Mindfulness can help you overcome emotional pain.

Summary:

The presenter has done an excellent job. The workshop was organized well and included a visual aid – slides that were also well prepared. The people who could fully understand the spoken language could follow up.
The presentation could reach more people by including visuals describing Mindfulness and how to practice it.
I will be talking about creating a visual aid for an abstract idea next time.

Source: Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic –  https://ottawamindfulnessclinic.com/resources-2/what-is-mindfulness/

Presenter:
Guilhème Pérodeau, Ph.D.
Dr. Pérodeau is a Trained MBSM teacher, Professor of psychology at the University of Quebec in Outaouais and a registered psychologist with a private practice. She uses mindfulness in her clinical training of doctoral psychology students.

The Council on Aging of Ottawa – https://coaottawa.ca/
Embracing Aging: A Mindful Approach Learn about the concept of mindful ageing – the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience and the impact mindful seniors have on society.

Sponsor: Retire-at-Home – https://www.retireathome.com/

Definitions of Mindfulness: 

1 – Jon Kabat-Zinn  https://www.mindfulnesscds.com/

2 – Thich Nhat Hanh  https://plumvillage.org/questions-and-answers/

3 – Sylvia Boorstein  http://www.sylviaboorstein.com/about

Mindfulness for Kids: If you are looking for resources on Mindfulness  for kids, here is an interesting link: Blissfull Kids – https://blissfulkids.com/