While working in residential aged care I was asked if someone in our team would like to run a meditation group. I have always practiced and been interested in meditation so I jumped at the chance to run the weekly group in our facility.
Our Physiotherapist asked if I would document the new group for a study that was being done by a West Australian hospital. The study was to see if meditation reduced anxiety and pain within the group. I would ask every participant on a scale from 1 to 10 what their anxiety and pain was like at the start of the group and then ask them again after the meditation group had finished. The results showed that most of the group had a high score with both ailments before the meditation sessions and then everyone’s score had a dramatic drop after the meditation, feeling less pain and less anxiousness.
How to facilitate a Relaxation and Meditation group for Seniors
I was fortunate to have a small room with heavy curtains to run the group. I could accommodate up to 7 people in each group. I would set up the room early burning essential oils in an aroma oil diffuser and placed some battery-operated candles all around the room to create an atmosphere. I would draw the curtains closed and play soft relaxation music on a small CD player. I would sit everyone around the room in a circle.
As everyone arrived at the room they were greeted by a very serene sensory experience of sweet smelling oils, calming music and a warm cozy atmosphere. I encouraged everyone not to talk but to sit quietly and listen to the music. I went around to every individual and massaged their hands with aromatherapy lotion or gave their shoulders a mini massage rub. Some of the participants would sit with their eyes closed just listening to the soft music.
The last 10 to 15 minutes in the group I would do a guided meditation in which I took the residents to the ocean, river, mountains etc. I would describe the ocean waves splashing, the warmth of the sun and the feel of the sand beneath their feet. There are prerecorded meditations that you can download or purchase to use in your group if you do not want to do the guiding yourself.
At the end of the meditation everyone would be silent, eyes closed and still. I would end the group by saying – when you are ready, open your eyes slowly and bring yourself back into the room. I would open the door to the room slightly to allow more light entering the room while the participants slowly became more alert.
This was a very successful activity. I was surprised how everyone found it quite easy to relax and meditate. The group ran for 1 hour or sometimes a little longer.