Mindful Meditation Series for Seniors: Part 3 – An Interview with V!VA Lifestyles Manager, Julie Hunter
Published on July 27, 2020
If you’ve had a chance to read Parts 1 and 2 of our series on mindful meditation for seniors, you already have a great idea about the different techniques and benefits of this practice for older adults. For this final part, we sat down with V!VA Mississauga Lifestyle Manager, and certified meditation instructor, Julie Hunter, to learn more about how this practice as touched her life and the lives of her Community Members.
Hi Julie! You clearly love meditation so much, that you went out and became a certified teacher!
That’s right! In 2013, I graduated from the Sheridan College Hatha Yoga Teacher Training and Guided Mindful Meditation Leadership Program with high honors.
That’s fantastic – and congratulations! So, what inspired you to become an instructor?
My love for yoga and meditation began during a health crisis in my life years ago. I found that meditation gave me the ability to take back some control of my mind and body. Practicing yoga and meditation changed my life and got me through a very scary time. It brought me out stronger on the other side and I wanted to share this gift with others. Following my graduation at Sheridan, I continued my education online with a restorative yoga instruction program, combined with a meditation breathing awareness component.
Wow – how else has meditation changed your life?
Yes, since completing my training I have been successfully teaching private yoga and meditation serving a variety of clients including seniors, recovering addicts, motor vehicle accident recovery patients and those suffering from disabilities. Bringing my passion for yoga and meditation to V!VA Mississauga’s Community Members has been a new joy for me and their response has been wonderful.
What would you say is the biggest misconception of meditation?
Many people think that the purpose of mediation is to control the mind and one’s thoughts. But it’s true purpose, simplified, is to master the ability of not allowing your mind or thoughts to control you. Meditation brings you a self awareness through connection of mind, body and breath that cannot be attained any other way.
Wow, that sounds incredibly powerful. What kind of meditation techniques would you suggest for a beginner?
Guided or mindful meditation is a great way to start. Allowing a teacher, video or app to guide you through calming the mind, training the thoughts and coordinating the breath, will produce less frustration with the process and help one be successful. Short sessions are also recommended when just beginning with your meditation journey.
What would you say are some top benefits of meditation?
Reactions to different stimulation in our lives produces certain chemicals to release in the brain that if permitted will dictate the way we respond, feel and act, and can affect us negatively. Daily meditation practice combined with breathing techniques can reduce the production of these chemicals. The reduction of these chemicals can alleviate tension and stress, help regulate blood pressure help control headaches, panic or anxiety.
What are some tips you can share to get the most out of meditation?
First – be patient! Monks and Buddhists have meditated for generations and are still mastering it. It takes time to shed our layers, reduce outside influence and become calm amidst the chaos of our minds. Also, forget your ego! Your ego will always try to interrupt your meditation to tell you it’s a waste of time or useless, you’re not doing it right, and that there are better things you can be doing that are more important. The louder your ego yells, the harder you have to work to silence it. And finally, find a comfortable position for YOUR body; you don’t have to sit with pretzel legs or a straight back. Avoid lying in bed to meditate as this becomes “bed-itation” which may lead to nap time!
Those are great! Do you have any final words of inspiration?
My Favorite zen proverb is, “May we exist like the lotus flower, at ease in muddy waters.”
Julie, thank you so much for sharing your story and expertise with us.
To learn about meditation or the programs offered at V!VA, please consult with the Lifestyles Manger at your local V!VA Retirement Community.
Mindful Meditation Series for Seniors: Part 1 – The Benefits | Part 2 – Techniques