LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care
Pausing to be in the moment through mindfulness meditation can have powerful effects on both an individual’s physical health and their mental well-being.
LGBT elders will have the opportunity to learn about mindfulness at an upcoming Lunch & Learn event presented by Paul Lotz and Stephanie Saunders of Chase Brexton Health Care, on Thursday, September 14th from noon to 1:30 pm in the community rooms at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, Baltimore).
Paul Lotz discussed the basics of mindfulness with Monte Ephraim of the LGBT Health Resource Center.
What is mindfulness?
As a baby boomer myself, when I heard about mindfulness I thought about Be Here Now, a 1971 book on meditation, yoga, and spirituality by Ram Dass (aka Dr. Richard Alpert) “who dropped out, turned on and tuned in” on LSD with fellow Harvard professor Timothy Leary. Ram Dass found he could experience similar bliss through the practices of meditation when he turned to the East for spiritual awakening. We can add to that the practice of living with what cannot be changed through conventional medicines.
With roots in Buddhism, mindfulness entered the American mainstream through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since then, studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness.
In the words of Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
How can practicing mindfulness improve both the physical and mental well-being of LGBT elders?
It could help some individuals feel less lonely. Loneliness among seniors can be dangerous, as it’s known to raise the risks for many health conditions. But UCLA researchers found that mindfulness meditation helped to decrease feelings of loneliness among the elderly, and boost their health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.
A study in the journal Brain, Behavior & Immunity found that mindfulness is linked to decreased loneliness. Other benefits and impact on mindfulness related to aging include, but are not limited to:
• Higher brain functioning
• Increased immune function
• Lowered blood pressure
• Lowered heart rate
• Increased awareness
• Increased attention and focus
• Increased clarity in thinking and perception
• Lowered anxiety levels
• Experience of being calm and internally still
• Experience of feeling connected
What are some basic elements of mindfulness that anyone can practice?
First, don’t get caught up in expectations. Mindfulness is about being aware of changes and noticing if and when they happen. Having certain expectations can actually limit your possibilities.
Also, don’t try to be mindful, just be with what is. Mindfulness meditation is best seen as relaxation happening spontaneously. Just let yourself move into a state of being. Accept everything internally and externally – to experience relaxation through mindfulness you want to embrace and accept whatever is happening in and around you, in each moment. Accept your external environment, and accept whatever is happening internally in your mind.
Finally, allow things to flow. Each moment is unique. Things are constantly changing. Allow awareness to flow freely from one experience in the present moment to the next experience in the present moment. Be aware of your awareness. Simply notice where your awareness is in each moment.
What do you hope attendees learn from this Lunch & Learn?
To be in the moment. We hope our LGBT 50-plus attendees walk away with strategies that will directly impact their psycho, social, emotional physical health and well-being and just “Be Here Now.”
For information and to register for the upcoming Lunch and Learn program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-837-2050 x1107.
About Chase Brexton LGBT Health Resource Center – The purpose of the center is to provide LGBTQ individuals and their families with welcoming access to expert health information and resources that will enhance wellness and quality of life.For more information, please visit ResourceCenter.lgbt.
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