A Contemplative Approach to Healthy Aging

By: Adrienne Chang  

The growing appeal of meditation and mindfulness practices in Western society has allowed more individuals to skillfully work with physical and emotional distress. Research has begun to show the age-related specific benefits that meditation practice brings, not just for older adults, but for all individuals as we age, including coping with chronic pain, promoting brain health, and slowing stress-related cellular aging. Additionally, mindfulness practices are increasingly taught to health care professionals and family caregivers to foster resiliency, lower rates of psychological stress, improve communication, and decrease burnout. Such contemplative practices can now be found in medical schools, hospitals, long-term care, and hospice and palliative care centers. Standing far beyond the view that mindfulness practices are but a mere set of techniques to apply to life’s everyday problems is the greater context of what it means to live a life fully embodied – a contemplative life. Through this interactive workshop, participants will gain a better understanding of what it means to cultivate a contemplative approach to working with challenges of change, from age-related changes in our own life to our relationships with others and greater society. Rather than relying on an analytical framework, the practices presented will foster a first-person experience of what it means to be fully embodied and aware from moment to moment. Participants will experience guided mindfulness practice and engage in contemplative dialogue. Participants will learn how the contemplative view influences how we understand and integrate formal meditation practices with our way of being in everyday lived experience.

Healthy aging, Mindfulness, Meditation, Contemplative
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Workshop Presentation

Adrienne Chang

Adrienne is a doctoral researcher with Miami University. Her primary interests are in the areas of spirituality and aging. Current research includes investigations of moral development in older adults; hospice and end-of-life care; and traditional Buddhist teachings and mindfulness meditation interventions as applied in older adult populations. She teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes with older adult communities. Adrienne is based at Miami University's European campus in Luxembourg.