Aging and the Benefits of Spirituality

Many older people cope well with  losing their spouse and loved ones, serious medical issues, and facing their own mortality.  They seem to intuitively know how to live life on life’s terms and have practiced the art of acceptance.  Authors John Watts, (Professor of psychiatry for older adults, University of Huddersfield) and Stephen Curran, (Professor, University of Huddersfield) tell us that these individuals draw on strategies and coping mechanisms practiced over the years.  They derive strength from practicing spirituality.  “Distinct from religion, spirituality is what gives life meaning, purpose, hope, connectedness and a sense of value.  We see this as a kind of spiritual resilience that helps them cope.”


Psychiatrist and Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl writes about his own spiritual  development and awakening in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  He says “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”.


Below are some spiritual practices that have helped generations of people find their spiritual path.  It’s never too late to strengthen our spiritual muscles!


Aging Well from Samvedna Senior Care

Following are  5 examples of  spiritual practices :

  1. Develop daily rituals

Sit with yourself and close your eyes. Even for 5-10 minutes. Watch and focus on the breath. Every time the mind starts to chatter with to-do lists, regrets about the past or worries about the future just bring it back to the breath. Watch your thoughts. With no judgement and create a self- awareness. Soon you’ll start to notice how much you live in the antics of your mind, not the present moment. The key to peace and happiness is nothing external. It is actually just being fully present.

  1. Connect with your body

Make some time to sit and stretch. Do Yoga or dance or start a fitness routine that you love and make you feel good. The idea is to release the tension and increase the connection to your body.

  1. Gratitude

Gratitude opens door to more relationships, improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people sleep better. Gratitude improves self-esteem and increases mental strength. It is a very healthy practice to keep a daily journal in which seniors can write things they are grateful for. This will create a positive outlook towards life and it will help in building a happy world.

  1. Reframing

Aging includes its share of reverses, losses and sorrows. What makes the difference is our attitude about them. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best out of everything that comes their way. So instead of complaining about a situation a positive approach towards it can make life easier.

  1. Flexibility

Things change as we age, and some of those changes are irrevocable.  In the face of these changes, it’s important that the seniors not become rigid and stuck in their ways. With every reversal comes new opportunity. No matter what the issue, no matter how big the problem, there is always something constructive that one can do. Never give up; never let aging get the better of you. This is how the “extraordinary elderly” do it — the ones who have beaten the odds to enjoy their old age to the very end.


For more content from Virginia Tortorici, click here.

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