ADELAIDE, Australia — “Mindfulness” has been creating quite a buzz these last few years, and researchers continue to discover its countless positive benefits for the brain and the body. Now, a new study from Flinders University is one of the first to research how mindfulness benefits people differently as they grow older.
Mindfulness is a technique of maintaining moment-to-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences in an accepting and non-judgemental manner. Researchers find that older people express characteristics of mindfulness more regularly than younger people.
“This suggests that mindfulness may naturally develop with time and life experience,” says behavioral scientist associate professor Tim Windsor and co-author of the study, in a release.
The researchers recruited 623 participants of ages 18-86 to complete an online questionnaire. The questions measured characteristics of mindfulness like present-moment attention, non-judgement, and non-attachment, and also measured the general wellbeing of participants.
The results of the survey show that increased present-moment awareness and adopting a nonjudgemental and accepting attitude are all positively associated with age. Furthermore, the relationship between these mindfulness characteristics and wellbeing become stronger with age. Researchers note that these effects tend to start around the age of 40.
“The ability to appreciate the temporary nature of personal experiences may be particularly important for the way people manage their day-to-day goals across the second half of life,” says study lead author Leeann Mahlo.
Windsor notes that “the significance of mindfulness for wellbeing may also increase as we get older, in particular the ability to focus on the present moment and to approach experiences in a non-judgmental way. These characteristics are helpful in adapting to age-related challenges and in generating positive emotions.”
The study is published in Aging and Mental Health.