August 22, 2022

How You Can Age Gracefully with Mindfulness Practice

After attending an outdoor concert of 20,000 people this summer, the first comment I made to my friend and fellow concertgoer was, “My legs hurt.” Comforted to hear that it wasn’t just me, I couldn’t help but laugh at how the tides have turned from music festivals past. Same artist, same venue, aging fans. 

Of course, growing older is inevitable. Yet for many of us, it’s not always easy to come to terms with this fact of life. It’s no wonder given that our society is bombarded with anti-aging marketing and perfectly curated (perhaps highly edited) images on social media. I once considered buying a serum for my ‘crows feet’, until my sister pointed out that they are laugh lines. This turn of phrase made me realize that I have a choice in my approach to the aging process. Whether I like it or not, I’m getting older. But it is possible to embark on the journey with a positive outlook.   

Mindfulness Tips for Graceful Aging 

Practice Self-Acceptance: Let Go and Let Be 

The sooner we accept that there’s no fountain of eternal youth, the easier it becomes to embrace ourselves where we are now. Mindfulness teaches us to tune into the present experience, instead of ruminating about the past or fearing what’s to come. When we stop resisting what we can’t control, we can move through life’s precious moments with greater appreciation and gratitude. 

Practice Self-Awareness: Turn Inwards and Listen

Taking good care of our physical and mental wellness as we age starts with mindful awareness. By taking a few minutes to check in with ourselves and acknowledge what physical sensations are present, or what emotions we may be feeling, we learn to make choices from a space of wisdom to meet our needs. 

Practice Self-Compassion: Be Kind and Gentle

Rather than being self-critical of the changes that come with age, we can extend the same kindness to ourselves as we would a close friend. Studies have shown that those who treat themselves with self-compassion in the face of adversity are more self-forgiving and can lessen levels of anxiety and depression. 

In his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Dr. Christopher Germer suggests: “Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest your body. Massage your own neck, feet, or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.” 

Mindful Movement Practices for Every Body 

Incorporating more movement into your life is essential for good health and well-being. Being physically active helps lower your risk of disease, maintain healthy weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve brain health, and increase your ability to do everyday activities. 

The CDC notes that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health at any age. This need not be intimidating, keeping in mind that working short bursts of movement into your day can be as effective as one long session of structured exercise. There are many mindful movement practices that you can build into your daily routine. 

Personally, I love yoga – it’s meditation in motion. It calms and strengthens both body and mind. You don’t need to be flexible, young or fit to reap the benefits. The practice is deeply personal, and should be modified to what your abilities allow. Chair Yoga is a gentle way to take a break in your day and relieve tension in your body. 

As I reflect upon what it means to age gracefully, I bring to mind the roles of elders in Indigenous societies. In Native traditions, elders are regarded as keepers of wisdom, held with utmost value and respect. We too can choose to embrace how we age with admiration, love and tenderness. 

If you want to try mindfulness practices for graceful aging, I recommend checking out eM Life’s on-demand program 7 Days of Aging Gracefully. You can also join us for a webinar on overcoming barriers to incorporating physical activity by signing up for Shaking Off That Sedentary Lifestyle

Written by Annie Slaby