Meditation as a tool to support a carer in extremis (a personal experiment)

Big Effort

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Foreword
2:45 in the morning. A lightbulb moment. I am catapulted from sleep to wide awake. It is permitted to write about meditation on TP provided I write about my personal experiences of it, provided it pertains to dementia, and provided it is in the Resource section. A-ha! I am on Day 1 of the Deepak Chopra Healing Meditation Adventure and I am already thinking outside the box!

Why Meditation? The Tool to learn inner peace and freedom
"Establishing a regular meditation practice will help you reap countless physical and emotional rewards, including reduced stress, improved sleep, greater focus and creativity, and an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Over time, you'll also begin to gain a better understanding of your own identity as you deepen your connection with your body, mind, and spirit.

Meditation is a natural process, and we want to assure you that every person can meditate. Setting aside as little as 15 minutes a day to retreat and rejuvenate is beneficial. Please relinquish any fears, worries, or doubts you may have about meditation—remain open to the experience without judgment. "


Why a 'Carer in Extremis'? The Rationale behind this personal experiment
I am a 'carer in extremis' because suddenly the odds have shifted yet again. Alzheimers has gained a whole lot of ground, and I, the carer, have lost ground, I'm floundering in this new space that experts refer to as advanced dementia. Kind, unflappable Richard informed me that this stage of dementia is the toughest one. Mum is in the twilight zone: she is talking ok, but only fragments of what she says make sense to me, though her thoughts/actions seem to make perfect sense to her. I, the carer, am having to tune in and try to understand what a brain that is riddled with Alzheimer plaques and a black hole where the hippocampus used to be (I saw the MRI scan) is trying to communicate.

I am 'in extremis' also because I find my personal pain in walking this stretch of the Alzheimer Route is acute, therefore affecting my ability as carer to cushion, console, support, be loving, in short be the kind of companion to Mum that is worthy of her. Worse still is the knowledge that if the roles were reversed, Mum would be compassion itself towards me. I hope my encounters with Meditation will enlighten/shed some light on that space within where my Compassion is stored. I need it fast, to oil the wheels and nourish the carer.

Meditation as self-care. I am not a victim of Alzheimers. No, I chose to accompany Mum on the Alzheimer Walk, we are in this together. I want to walk this Route with my eyes wide open, using it as a learning experience, learning to become a better person, pushing my personal boundaries further, and further still.

I could cushion my emotional responses through medications such as anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants, but I choose not to. Just as I choose not to dull my senses with alcohol, sex and other distractors. Admission: I do use food as a buffer, but hope to drop the food-for-comfort addiction through this Meditation Experiment :eek:.

I have hope and trust in this Eastern Philosophy. Why? I used to suffer (really suffer) from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Conventional health care prescribed seratonin-enhancing (SSRI) anti-depressants. My PTSD-induced depression lifted, but the PTSD remained. A magical freak intervention of the Universe introduced me to Yoga Nidra, which I have been practicing for a year now. Initially I did Yoga Nidra more to placate my yogi guru than for myself, after all I was a non-believer. Despite my total scepticism, miracles began to happen: improved sleep, big drop off in anxiety, calm, feeling previously unavailable parts of my brain were coming 'on line', resiliance, and silently whittling away at PTSD which has evaporated, gone.

Now, with Mum dissolving as a person, the stakes are high, and I want to be there for her, and yet survive to tell the tale. So now is the time for me to give the ancient, time-tested Meditation a test drive.

Footnote
As a Dementia Carer, I am not alone. When I first joined TP, I had this image of myself as walking the Alzheimer Route with One Other, namely Mum. I now know this to be a fallacy. I walk the Alzheimer Route with countless Others. Here on TP you have reached out to me again and again, lifted my spirit, mended my heart and touched my soul. When my brother had an aneurysm on Jan 5th, over 3000 TP users reached out to carry me through another horrific blow - and the catharsis in this sharing reached a place within me that nothing and no one before has ever reached. So, once more, I want to share my personal chapter of self-care through Meditation as we traverse individually/as a group the steep inclines and slippery slopes of the Dementia Mountain Range.

While this thread is my Meditation Experiment, I want to share it with you. On the dementia level, we are all connected. So, if you have a thought, insight or something to share, please feel free to connect with me, i.e. post here.
 

loveahug

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Moved to Leicester
I started the same course yesterday and meditated with it again this morning. It sems to be a very supportive course with a daily journal available too. I look forward to reading the journal at the end of the 21 days. I don't know why I got out of the meditating habit years ago but this is drawing me back in a lovely gentle way. I do find the 15 minutes goes in a flash though!

If it affects my responses to my mother, improves my health, and helps me get more positive, then the time investment (which I would have spent drinking a cup of tea anyway) will have been worth it.

Best wishes BE, thank you for continuing to post and encourage
 

Big Effort

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Day 1: Healing Mediation Adventure

Yesterday was Day 1 of the Deepak Chopra Healing Meditation Adventure. It was a difficult day for me, one I would have spent in centering myself. Instead I found myself struggling to find a space on TP where I could post and share. I trust I have now found a safe space hidden in the bowels of the forum.

To be clear: I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in the next 21 days of the challenge. A new adventure arrives in my inbox each day, and part of the adventure for me is to go with the flow, to open my mind to what someone else (Dr Deepak Chopra) suggests is an effective path to Healing. Mum listens to the 15 minute pep-talk and meditation with me, but this is principly for me, the carer.

I have dabbled a bit with meditation, but I am a well-read novice. I want to see what Meditation is like Chopra-style. My reserves are low now, as Alzheimers takes a firmer grip on my mother, throttling her skills, knowledge and personality. Just like the outer Spring Clean I am indulging in, this is my Inner Space to explore.

Day 1's centering thought is:
"I commit to living perfect health"

My first reaction is one of apprehension, resistance and fear of failure. Does that mean I have to start eating sensibly and losing weight? The mental see-saw kicks in already. Do I? Don't I? And perhaps taking up jogging again, some gentle weights perhaps? No more late night nibbles. Positive attitude prevails. Observing my negative self talk? Getting things done? Grasping my creativity. No longer putting on the brakes and staying in safe neutral. Grasping life with both hands, no holds barred. Feel the fear and do it anyway kind of stuff.

Committing to perfect health sounds pretty serious. Not frivoulous, not fun either. It sounds like a commitment. I am already over-committed, committed to Mum and Alzheimers. And Perfect Health? That sounds quite heavy duty too. Quite an ask. Can I do this? Or am I going to be my usual weak, non-committal, undisciplined self?

My mind spins forward. What will be expected of me in day 2? Commiting to Perfect Balance? Emotional Freedom? Physical Fitness? Perfect Compassion? Now, now, stay in the present. Cross this bridge first.

A buzzer goes off in my head. Insight. I sprint upstairs to get my copy of "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin (the one who started by clearing out clutter, 40% less housework). My Inner Wimp is quailing. Wise, soothing words are needed, to stop all this self-talk of maintaining the status quo and fear of overwhelm.

"To feel more energetic, I applied one of my Twelve Commandments: Act the way I want to feel. This commandment sums up one of the most helpful insights that I'd learned in my happiness research: although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act. For example, studies show that even an artificially induced smile brings about happier emotions, and one experiment suggested people who use Botox are less prone to anger, because they can't make angry faces. The philosopher and psychologist William James explained, "Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together, and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not." Advice from every quarter, ancient and contemporary, backs up the observation that to change our feelings, we should change our actions." [page 35/36]

OK. Point taken. Time to stop dithering and take action. Day 1 Meditation 1. Click the link, woman, allez!

Deepak Chopra delivers his opening pep-talk. All trepidation and aversion vanish. I have read several of his books, I know his intentions are expansive.... I let this body-mind-spirit medicine bathe me....

"There exists in every person a place that is free from disease, that never feels pain, that is ageless and never dies.... When we journey to this place, limitations that we commonly accept simply cease to exist, they are not even a possibility.... This is the place called Perfect Health.... Stepping into this realm, even for brief periods, can bring profound transformation and healing..... In this state of true mind-body-spirit connection, all previous assumptions about ordinary existence disappear, and we experience a higher, truly ideal reality.

Sometimes our health is less than perfect, but we need to understand that's not a permanent sate, it's only a snapshot... So while we believe the diagnosis, we needn't believe the prognosis..... Within an hour, or the next day, this snapshot will be completely different.

Om Bhavam Namar = I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilites.

We are the controlers of our own physiology and we can take steps to restore our health and vitality..... We can train the brain to think in new ways and choose nourishing habits that will help us connect with Perfect Health more frequently in our lives.... The brain stores our beliefs and retrieves them as thoughts and can cause us to experience negative feelings..... To shift such views we must invite our minds to be out allies.... As we do this we will become more open to Breakthrough Thinking, raising our expectations higher than we ever thought possible and finding creative solutions to make what we envision come true.

Embarking on our journey to Perfect Health, we begin by forming new pathways in the brain to move us from the level of the problem to that of the solution.... And by examining our current beliefs and creating fresh perceptions, we can live more vibrant, and rewarding lives......

The mantra Om Bhavam Namar allows us to reconnect to the memory of wholeness...

Simply with a change of mind, you can change your life....."


My fears are gone.... I like the picture of Perfect Health he invokes, he encourages me to connect to the place of wholeness that lies within each of us, and I slip into the memory of wholeness.... the place called Perfect Health.

Some minutes of meditation follow.
Those fears leave me, and new perceptions float into consciousness.
1) To listen to this meditation is not enough for me, I must do it morning, (noon?) and night.
2) I remember a message someone posted about spending an hour each of the 21 days doing cardio exercise. I determine to cycle.... but it's raining.... I will take my bike out and see what it feels to push my body physically.
3) I am not too convinced by mantras, yet!

And now back to my other life!
 
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Big Effort

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Meditation: its effects on dementia and my grieving process

Day 3.
Where is day 2, you ask. Well, it is done, but I don't have time to post about it, as events from day 3 unfold. And I want to remain in present time.

Today dawned and there wasn't much inner sparkle. I am low. Mum is descending fast and it is now that she is dying as a person, not at all the moment when they draw their final breath. Now she is in full-dementia and I am in bits emotionally.

The Healing Meditation is having more effect than I actually expected. I already practice Yoga Nidra daily (well almost daily), and I do yoga for my back (so that is quiet time and very sensory, a body-listening exercise). But this meditation seems to have brought the subject of healing right under my nose. So I am all attention.

So what's going on within?

* This is a free online 21 day Healing Meditation. I was open to healing, so I assume I attracted this course. Mum certainly needs healing. My brother is still in hospital having suffered a surprise burst aneurysm - he is healing. I am grieving the loss of Mum as my mother, so I need healing. My sister seems to be lapsing into depression - her tactic has been denial, so as we see there is no denial, just self-delusion, and she needs healing. Other brother is on pre-cancer watch and doing well - so a dash of healing would do no harm. Plus there are all my lovely forum friends who need healing from time to time as they try to keep above water. That was my intention or focus when I started.

* Three days in and the topic is about healing. But so far, more about me opening to healing myself. First week is about listening and tuning in to our body talk. Well perhaps this is Divine intervention. Just last weekend (day before this meditation lark started) hubby chanced to see there was a massive second-hand bike sale.... so now I have road bike and mountain bike. Getting fit and using strenuous exercise is a way of tuning into my body. It is snowing today, so I am going to use the time indoors, rowing machine that lay idle for a year, and some light weight-training. If I am honest, I know it is time to treat my body as a special vessel that contains me: me, my mind, my spirit and my body, we are inseperable. Yet I have ignored my body (pretty much) since dementia entered my life.

Insight: my meditation felt very different, more vivid and alive after my bike ride. Body a bit tired, so it did switch off and rest while I moved my attention within. So before I start up on Day 3 meditation, I shall row hard (-ish, I am unfit due to running a private nursing home, average age of inmates: 86, so not much call for strenuous exercise). I shall do the light weight training routine I used to do before Alz invasion, and I will do my back yoga exercises.

Insight: A tentative one this. I am talking about the Bigger Picture. The way, way Bigger Picture now. Suppose, just suppose, Mum (at a super-conscious level) also knows she is pushing all our boundaries with her severe descent? In 'real life' she wouldn't want to live like this and she definitely wouldn't want me caring for her either. I have agreed in 'real life' to care for Mum, yet when she came to live here I had no idea she had Alzheimers. What if, at a super-conscious level both of us are actually negotiating a halt to this Dementia Journey. She isn't getting better or benefitting, and I am held back in (almost) all my life plans. If I am very, very honest, Mum would opt to let go at this point (in a different life when she didn't have dementia she felt strongly about living too long).

Strange incident: Yesterday while out cycling I shoved the door key in my zip-up pocket. On my return I couldn't find it. Later found it on Mum's bed. Her comment, "There, I found the key for you, see, I found it." (she didn't, I did, but that's dementia talking). After meditating, I pondered the significance of the key. First I lost it, a 'missing key', symbolic stuff are keys! In meditating I also seek a key, or entry to a space of knowing 'within'. And then I found it. The key lay with Mum all the time. What does that mean, in the Big Picture, 'the key is with Mum'? So what will this 'missing key' open up? I wait with eager anticipation.
 

Big Effort

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Balance: a melding of body and mind

This meditation course is starting to be rewarding and expansive. I don't know how a course that is designed to 'appeal to everyone' can be personal, but it is. The meditation and preceeding comments from Day 3 of the Healing Meditation Challenge are deeply meaningful for me.

Albert Einstein said:
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift: and the rational mind is the faithful servant."
"We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift"
,​
adds Deepak Chopra.

This means something to me. For a while I have been intuiting things about aspects of TP and whether it is time for me to reduce my presence here .... yet the servant got the upper hand and here I still am. Furthermore the servant I am serving is not the servant I came here to serve! I cannot use my gifts!

Three days in to a generic healing meditation course and I feel I am already changing for the better. How can this be? Three days ago I would have stumbled at today's centering thought:

"My mind and body are in perfect sync."

No they aren't, I would have squirmed, unable to face the enormity of kick-starting my body out of its turpor. But I feel 'supported', in a flow of sorts where the right thing or the right information comes just before I need it. Sunday I bought two bikes, and Monday (unknown to me) Dr Chopra starts in on how to bring body and mind into alignment. I have broken through my personal resistance of remaining physically static, afraid to push and urge my body. Today I as I listened to his talk, it became clear how I am to achieve this body-mind balance - and it is so simple that I can do it. Without further support or prompting. I now resolve to get three sessions of aerobic exercise distributed across the day - this to lift my energy/metabolism/gain strength, endurance and fitness. Meanwhile I resolve to continue the Yoga Nidra and back yoga to calm my over-active conscious mind, allowing other energies to get a word in.

Today it is not true for me to say, my body and mind are in perfect sync, but I am not afraid to hold that thought for I have perfect clarity on how to achieve body-mind balance. This seems like a healthy step and one that promotes personal growth.

One cause for my current inner turmoil, where I fight Mum's descent and seem unable to accept her doctor's calm advice, "Il faut accepter, madame" is this inner voice that is alerting me that Mum is not going to be alive much longer. My conscious mind (Einstein's servant) keeps trying to understand this. But my intuition 'knows' that Mum doesn't want to loose her marbles, she has lost almost all of them already; she would not put me through this for all the tea in China; nor would she want me or anyone privvy to a muddled mind and a body out of control (pee and poo are private matters to Mum). If Mum could choose, she would exit. And my soul, or perhaps hers, is telling me that the End is nigh. To prepare.

While my servant mind (the rational one) has been harnessed to assist me now in preparing for the great letting go, she will return to Dad, no doubt in her mind (when the marbles were more numerous). I have in my possession a document that explains how to manage a death in France. Again this came to my notice about two weeks ago and I ordered it. Yesterday the documents to organise POA en France arrived in yesterday's post. I am preparing for the End. No wonder my mind squirms, anxieties soar, irritation runs high when she demonstrates the last of the marbles are just waiting to shatter into pieces.

Her lovely diary, today's quote of the day, provided yet more evidence from beyond the veil (or the barrier) of the rational mind:

"We can let circumstances rule us,
or we can take charge and rule our lives from within."​
[Earl Nightingale]
Now how much of a coincidence is that? Mum won't be ruled by circumstances, i.e. Ebixa, coconut oil, pain meds and an excellent health system that we avail of in France. Nor does she want me to be held back dedicated to end of life care for a person who has lived a huge, dynamic, burgeoning and generous life. She has lived her life, and dementia is now starting to rule, a circumstance she will not tolerate long. She is withdrawing as she can speak less, communicate less, do less - closer to Dad now, for he would NEVER leave her in need. And I too am prompted to leave all this Rational Mind stuff, choreographed by my Servant, as I withdraw and listen within. Are we communing on a different level, Mum and I? Oh yes, I am grieving, but she would not have me grieve - not for a life like this.

There. That took a bit of courage to express. But it has been articulated now.

My waking thought today was:
"There is only love."
Not such a coincidence seeing as it was part of an historical novel I have just finished reading. Coincidence again? A woman faced all manner of trials and upsets until she finally realised she would do anything for her husband and children: when the chips are on the table there is only love.

After a day like I had yesterday, I didn't bound out of bed. No, I felt quite reluctant to face dressing Mum. Where oh where will I find the patience? Where oh where will I find love in all this madness and dementia and chaos? Yet, as I mentally held the thought "There is only love" and wondered what that really meant, I encountered a mother who was calm, alert, ready to be helped into her clothing, complimentary and supportive of me. And I could feel this sensation spread through me: There is only love.

Now it is time to stop. Enough head stuff (pitta according to Chopra's Vedic medicine) and time to connect with the body - on my bike in the sun near the forest (reduce kapha - the inert, swollen, sluggish body that I have become since I disconnected from it).

And I have yet to start Day 4 of the Healing Meditation Challenge. Cannot wait. But exercise, cardio, stretching and strengthening comes first.
 
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Big Effort

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Something's happening - despite my beliefs!

This first week of the Healing Meditation Challenge is all about the body-mind connection. Today's centering thought is:

"I trust the wisdom of my body"

Due to time constraints, I only get around to listening to Day 4 late in the afternoon, so I listen to the same talk and guided mantra meditation again the next day, before I move on to Day 5.

This seems to be a good system because I notice the shift that occurs between hearing the health information the first time (where I have a tendency to be over-awed and feel I am not able to embrace the centering thought much but would like to) and the second day, where clearly subtle changes have taken place at deeper levels, as I am aligned and content with the daily thought, and know I am doing my best to measure up to taking it on board. Thus, I have decided to record the whole lot, and hubby and I can do 16 minute meditations before we get up each day, running through the whole program as often as we need to take this valuable health data on board.

Do I trust the wisdom of my body? Well...... not much on first glance. I felt I needed to take my health more seriously as I feared adult-onset diabetes. But the results are back from all my blood tests and I find my blood is in a better state than last time I did a blood-MOT in 2008. Good and bad cholesterol are both fine, anti-bodies not at war with something, blood sugar perfect and so on. So, I didn't trust the wisdom of my body, but I was wrong, my body is running just fine. I am grateful for that, and it just makes me want to look after it better (I had assumed high blood sugars and cholesterol would be the kick up the pants I needed, but au contraire, I find seeing all is very well is far more motivating to take care of my body better. It hasn't failed me after all.)

Now I understand much better this body-mind connection concept. The truth is that I consciously disconnected my mind from my body. So how could I listen to my body's messages and tap into its wisdom? Actually when my body told me it needed a good stretch and regular exercise, I told it that things were already difficult enough without that added burden. So, over the past three years, I have slowed down to Mum's pace, and she is 86. Two inmates of the same old people's home: time virtually stands still. And my mind certainly had things to say about that! I want to be effective and efficient.....

The truth is I have treated my body badly. Junk food is shoved in sometimes in preference to good stuff, that would be just as quick to prepare. I deprive myself of regular exercise. I don't allow the concept of fun - this is to keep myself aligned with the silly notion that fun, health, well-being and major steps forward are not feasible while running a nursing home at home. Given the choice I always prioritise my mind's needs. In my case, mind-body connection was actually a mind-body disconnect. It is a wonder my body continued to serve me so well. And just imagine the health levels it would be capable of if given the right inputs? And if I care for my body, it can in turn ratchet up the mental powerhouse, a win-win situation, surely?

Insight:
It is a fact that changes are taking place, unconsciously, between the first listening to the day's health meditation, and the second listening some hours later. I have observed this on all the past three days. Something is happening - stop this endless doubtful self-wickering!

Insight:
I thought I would hate labouring up hills - puffing and panting - on a bike. But no, this is not the case. It is interesting to feel my heart thumping hard in my chest, it is not unpleasant to gasp for breath, and I know from past experience that muscles build incredibly fast. I am only on Day 4, how will that hill feel today?

I adapt quickly. When I started out, just four days ago I had absolutely no idea what to expect of this free online course. I have never really taken to mantras, it reminds me of the insane prayers in latin I heard in my childhood. I always thought if you can't understand yourself what you are praying about, how would God answer you. A sanskrit mantra somehow felt the same, not of my culture, not understandable to me. Yet, after just four days, I find I liked the mantras of day 2, 3 and 4, just day 1 threw me. [If anyone wants to start up, PM me and I will send you the link, apparently not allowed to do so here.]

Final insight. My body seems to be waking up! The cycling and rowing and yoga is dragging my body out of its turpor and I am performing better during daytime hours, getting more done, faster. Is this why I was so ineffective and slow? Because I had put my body to sleep, even in waking hours? I cannot believe (yet) how different I feel mentally.

A nice treat: I have been given the opportunity to study with Jack Kornfield for the next 6 weeks. This is an example of manifesting something I have wanted for a long time. I had even considered going to his centre in the US once my Alzheimer Journey is over, just for me. Instead, I was given a scholarship, and have access to him online for six whole weeks.

If anyone reads this, and you are in spiritual denial, get yourself a copy of Jack Kornfield's "Path with Heart", that really touched my soul (and I never knew I had one as I am not religious at all!). And another masterpiece is Deepak Chopra's "How to know god", introducing seven levels of god, I discovered religion, as I know it, is only level 1, no wonder it did nothing for me. TP is at level 2 of god, and its limitations have me chafing at the bit! I want to operate on levels 4, 5 and 6....

Onwards and upwards..... day 5 calls and my bike too, bright blue sky and sunshine!
 
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Big Effort

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Day 5: Learning to go with the flow

"Om Anandham Namah"
"My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome."​

It is hard (impossible) for me to imagine how it would be to live life totally unattached to outcomes. And today started with a phone call saying my brother (2 months post burst aneurysm) was currently in surgery to insert a shunt (to relieve pressure from excessive fluid pressing on his brain). A shunt? A shunt? This isn't the outcome we all wanted. What about the simple spinal tap we were told he needed? I lit a candle, and also in in Mum's house (though wiser now, I just said I knew she would like to think of her son, and send him healing thoughts). My emotions begin the rollercoaster. Up down up down down up. An hour later, a new phone call, a change of plan. The senior neurosurgeon said brother was doing far too well for a shunt, no it was to be a spinal tap. That's all.

Now, how do I manage not be be attached to outcomes? I definitely was upset at the shunt idea. I then acclimatised and realised they would not put it in if it weren't in his best interests. Acceptance. And then it was to be a tap after all. Relief, new plan, new need to adapt. Wouldn't it have been better, wiser, more balanced and healthful if I had managed just to go with the flow? Certainly. But easier said than done.

It must be my Servant who really does run my show (remember the Einstein quote, "the intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant"). I clearly have to learn to Trust outcomes, to Trust that all will be exactly as it should be. No amount of candles, prayers, incantations, rituals and worry will overturn what is going on in a neurological unit in another part of Europe.

One lesson is driven home yet again. Right now, I am still in a fragile mental space. It is right for me to be on retreat, to listen within, to take time to recalibrate and heal. To take those actions which I have been putting off - I know what my intuition tells me, yet I am still heeding the servant.

Today's talk is how a healthy mind creates a healthy body. Luckily for me, at 53, my body has remained healthy despite all the unhealthy mental habits I have inflicted upon myself.

According to Deepak Chopra:
"Human beings, unlike all other beings on the planet, can change our biology through our thoughts, feelings and intelligence. Our 'Selves' are constantly eavesdropping on our thoughts. [....] Because we possess this subconscious ability to heal or create toxicity in our body through thought, our work is to mentally go with the flow, creating positive thought patterns that support our optimal health and well-being."

Today I start a six week intensive course led by Jack Kornfield. The power of Mindfulness. I feel pushed as there is so much to do, and so little time to do it in. My soul knows that mindfulness is the route for me - I must have been a Buddhist monk in some previous incarnation. I am just not sure if I can continue reporting here..... so is going with the flow, just doing what I can, not being perfectionistic?
 

Haylett

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Feb 4, 2011
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BE - would like to send epistle-ish PM! But your letterbox is full - is there another address I could use? Or could you file some of the other PMs so I can squish in this one?
 
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Big Effort

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Inbox: Open to Receive

Hi Haylett,
I didn't realise it was full......
I hate to delete those special PMs where people have reached out....
Done some tidying up and made space.
Open to receive your epistle - glad I'm not the only one who fountains words.
Love BE
 

Big Effort

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Another perspective on severe dementia = Haylett's

Haylett,
Your epistle was another piece in the puzzle. Thank you so much for reaching out. I think a change in perspective is imminent - better for Mum, better for me. Also the Universe is sending tools as I find the Healing Meditation (which I am reporting on here) and the Power of Mindfulness Course (for which I was given a scholarship) are meshing to create an interesting Bigger Picture.
I have only started to 'digest' what you have shared. Need to print it out to clear my inbox. I thank you. It shows how interconnected we are - despite my being forced down here into Resources. I am dealing with dementia, just like the others, so still can't see the wisdom of playing it out down here!
I am grateful, Haylett. xx BE
 

Haylett

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Feb 4, 2011
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BE, I hope you keep posting - we are all learning continually, and I've learned such a lot here. I only check New Posts anyway so all those of us who want to follow what you say, will find you - don't worry!
 

Big Effort

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Day 7: Honour your body

I haven't even started looking at the guided meditation and all the 'tools' in today's toolbox in Day 7 of the Healing Meditation Challenge. Just the title speaks volumes to me: Honour your Body.

Hatha Yoga and Spinal Care
I have just spent 17 minutes on the floor doing the spinal twists and stretches that my yogi master instructed me to do, as my back was getting stiff. They are so good, that now husband and daughter do them when they can. As I twisted my arms to the left, and slowly twisted my legs/pelvis to the right, the sensation of being wrung out like a dishcloth came to mind. And as I felt the intitial stiffness and resistence melt into flexibility, s-t-r-e-t-c-h, and the glory of feeling my body actually f-e-e-l itself, quite a bit of emotional grief released out, again like a dishcloth being wrung out and losing its hold on water. The spinal twists wring the pain, grief, tension out of my muscle fibres...... and quiet healing occurs. These eastern medics are right, trauma is stored in the body, in muscles, in organs, and it needs to be located and released.

Western medicine and Eastern philosophy
The 21 day Healing Challenge is a useful introduction for us Westerners into the thousands of years old Vedic medicine. This week we have worked on the body-mind connection. Body-mind connection? Here in the West we don't really even know what that is, no wonder it is so hard to connect with our entire Selves (body, mind, spirit).

I seem to be in the fortunate position of having access to both Eastern and Western healing philosophies. Mum has never been physically healthier since coming to France. Her every ache, pain and mental malaise is treated with a new chemical. Painkillers for arthritis, cortisone for polymyalgia, Ebixa for Alzheimers, an anti-psychotic (mild) to ease off aggression, and now he suggests a gentle anti-depressant to lift the spirits. All chemical.

Then, I who seek a less chemical-warfare attitude on ill-health , try to introduce coconut oil to see if it will help oil some cogs back into use in Mum's plaque-infested brain, and it meets with dismay by TP admin. Don't raise hopes, no evidence, don't mess with vulnerable people. Hmmmm.....

For me, in my mental anguish, Western medicine, or at least my doctor had this advice: "Il faut adapter, madame!" This rings through my brain a few times a day. How does one adapt to the pain and challenge of losing someone we love day by day, by month by month, by year by year? Adapter..... How? My bet is if I pushed the issue, his response would be anti-depressants or mood-enhancers, n'est pas? Now, is that really adapting? Or is it a chemical crutch in the face of the individual not having the tools at their disposal to adapt?

By contrast my Indian guru - bless him, as he doesn't even speak a word of English, so his son does all the translation - such is the wonder of the internet - has prescribed something very different.

First Yoga Nidra. To relax the body and mind. [It also reconnects mind to body, but I didn't know that a year ago. Now my body 'tells' me how it feels once ir not twice a day, what is aching after a tough time emotionally, where I have stored my emotional trauma - usually my teeth/gums in my individual case.] But again, I am not permitted to share this amazing Eastern tool here - we must protect the vulnerable here. They may be disappointed!

Then my guru had me working on my body energy systems, to unclog those knots in my energy lines and coax my chakras back into supporting me. Not what I was used to, but I didn't question. I just did it, and continue to do it. No Western instant magic here. No. In the East, people have a different concept of time. It is all about developing a daily practice.

Since hearing of my added burden of concern about my brother who has suffered an aneurysm (and done brilliantly at the hands of Western neurosurgeons, a miracle in action!), he has prescribed a whole new regime. Breathing. Prana. I breathe, and breathe, and breathe. I breathe through my nose, I alternate nostrils, I breathe through my chakras...... and I wait to see what changes manifest over time and through dedicated practice.

Back to Day 7: Honour your Body
The very title speaks to me. Deepak Chopra understands, he knows, that we cannot be well, achieve total health, if we live life sitting on an office chair, sitting in front of the TV and guzzling fast food (not that he has spoken of that once). But it is clear that one of the things that ails us here in the West is our broken body-mind connection. And week one has been about how to mend that. I genuinely feel I understand how to hear my body talk, how to act on it.......

In my emotional dispair yesterday, when my temples were tense, my face hot with grief, my eyes dry and tearless, and a few encounters with dementia (real dementia, not something I can slip into comfortable denial over) just to reinforce the Present reality of madness in full swing (live in the now! but boy, is it gross), I knew it wasn't anti-depressants I want. For I am not depressed (probably due to the yogic practice actually).

So, I slipped into my comfortable practice of Yoga Nidra (total body care!), cleaned a chakra or two, breathed enough for an army, and then let my mind slip..... beyond .... the veil.

Rowing. That's it. I must row. I have a rowing machine upstairs, a swanky one. I am to row. Metaphorically row across the ocean of my pain. And physically row the pain, constriction, emotional knots away. I am to row, row, row my boat gently across the pond.....

Should I listen to this body-mind wisdom from within? Something tells me I would be a fool not to give it a try. "Honour your Body" appeared in my inbox today, as today's guided meditation. Yes, I should trust that my body knows what to do to ease my mind through this tough patch. So before I even begin my Healing Meditation Adventure today, I am going to put some meditation music on, drink two glasses of clean water, set a timer for 10 minutes, and row, row, row through the trauma of Walking through the Valley of Alzheimers.
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Big Effort

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I'm ok, just been busy

To those who are worried in case things have gone down hill with mother or brother, hence lack of posts..... no, I have been busy at work and busy taking Mum to hospital for health check. Time flies. I shall continue as soon as I have got my head organised.
Thank you for your concern - it's all fine at my end. xx BE
 

Big Effort

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What state am I in? Unconscious, Aware or Self-Aware

The short introductory talk for today, day 8 of "Perfect Health" was very powerful and meaningful to me. All last week, talks have centred on helping me to re-establish the body-mind connection, and I have such clarity on how to do that.

This week is going to be very moving and emotional. I have lived all my life in a spiritual wilderness, no soil to grow roots in as common or garden religion does nothing for me. However my True Self knows that dementia has come into my life to push me. To push me so hard and so long that I find a spiritual vein to tap into. A way of making sense out of this cruel time for Mum and I. There is an inner surity that Dementia, like death, or poverty, is the great leveller. Dementia has stripped me of my mother, my career, my income, my children (as I have supported them in studying too far afield to walk Dementia Walk all day every day), my dreams...... there isn't much left. And yet, I have to admit that minus everything that I thought counted for me, I am still very much here, alive, thinking, feeling, and now my dreams are simpler, clearer. The levelling worked. But now I need to find an access to the Biggest Picture, the universal one, not just the microcosm of my thoughts and needs.

Deepak Chopra's words today were deeply meaningful to me, on today's first step in aligning mind-body with spirit. Becoming whole, a whole that is much greater than its three parts, body, mind and spirit. The synergy begins!

"Whenever we have an experience, the mind is in one of three states: unconscious, aware or self-aware. The mind's two main modes of operation, unconscious and aware, are highly developed. When we act in the unconscious mode, the brain is able to take care of the body without needing specific, detailed instructions, processing the five senses to keep us aware of our inner and outer worlds. However, in the unconscious state, health and well-being are generally left to chance, and the critical mind-body feedback loop operates automatically without any awareness.

Consider this example. If you light your 5th cigarette of the day without thinking, you are doing something Unconsciously, which is the mode of operation which underlies habits. If you see yourself lighting the cigarette, you are Aware. As you light that cigarette, Self-Awareness can also step in, for instance, in that moment you may ask, "What am I getting out of this?"

When we begin to ask ourselves questions, reflect on our behaviors, look at the larger picture, and invite the answers to come to us, we may move into the place of Self-Awareness. When we are self-aware we begin to pay attention to the One who is Aware: the True Self. And the True Self is where values, meaning, purpose and answers come from.

Self-Awareness moves us beyond the old, well-worn pathways in the brain that support fixed, unconscious habits. Imagine a situation in which you are angry. In that instance, when you recognise that "I am angry", you are having an Aware thought, but knowing where that anger comes from, to recognise a pattern of behavior, you realise that all habits, past outbursts for example, likely haven't served very well. And you begin to take steps to transcend those habitual responses.

Reality shifts when Self-Awareness enters, and we start to take control with the help of our Spirit. Becoming Self-Aware opens the door to lasting change and a basis to make the most nourishing choices in every moment.
"

Today's centering thought" With Awareness, I create healthy habits."​

Some observations on myself which are based in Awareness - but I would very much like to run my Awarenesses (self-observations) through Self-Awareness, to gain total insight into why I run these silly, painful, automised pattern. Patterns that hurt me so much.

Why do I get into discussions with Mum, when she is in no position to articulate her thoughts and arguments in the first place? Why can't I just say, yes, yes, yes and walk away emotionally? Likewise, basically anything I say, she will argue to toss over. If I say it's hot, she will inform me it is cold today. I would dearly like to shine the light of Self-Awareness onto these pointless patterns of communication. Deepak is right when he says they "likely haven't served you very well". They haven't. But what purpose do they serve? Why do I see fit to explain what is right and correct? Why do I care if she gets exercise or not? Why do I limit the amount of sweet things she consumes (never, ever a sweet tooth my 'real' Mum), and worry about the effect putting weight will have on her bad back? Why indeed, when she resents this, disputes the veracity of what she has eaten (6 cinnamon rolls between breakfast and lunch 3 days ago), and actually eating sweet things tastes good to her.

The flip side to this coin is the consternation I now feel at how I can sever the mind-body connection as a way of punishing myself. Deepak is so right. When I align body and mind by giving my body the exercise it needs to function optimally, my wonderful, amazing body starts to communicate with my mind. It is do damn easy to re-establish the body-mind connection, but I needed Eastern Philosophy to get the message.

How am I now? I have just been to a funeral. Like so often these days, my head is hurting. My temples pound, as they did through the service. Run by two women, incidentally, as the Catholic Church has finally run out of men to conduct the service. When there are no men, women are permitted to become spiritual leaders. My father's funeral (not Catholic) flowed into mind. How my tiny son, who never, ever cried, such a balanced cheerful soul that entered our lives, cried as soon as he entered the church for the funeral service, no consoling him. How Alzheimers is a living death, and when Mum does die, I shall not grieve, for I am grieving so much now.

And what is this all for? Wherein lies the Life Lesson for me? What does Dementia have to teach me? I am not angry with god, for I do not believe in god, nor do I believe god sent dementia. No, dementia was a random cruelty, it could have been cancer, or us following our dream in France, or some other affliction. I realise that life is just a series of ups and downs, so I don't blame god. But I do believe in the Bigger Picture. And I don't want to lose the lesson I am being given the opportunity to learn in this Dementia Chapter of my life.

Does this make any sense to anyone out there? I am glad to have Eastern Philosophy, where millions of wise people have dedicated millions of hours, in quiet, in meditation, just to understand this self-same Bigger Picture I seek to glimpse and experience and know.
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Big Effort

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Not well right now

I am in a strange dissociative state..... almost feel as if I have suffered a stroke..... complete with (guess what!) memory issues.

Cannot post more as I am so so so so tired.
Once I dissociated from my body, totally lost all body sensation (I was being publicly attacked)..... this time my mind is dissociating and I feel muddled.

Off to bed now. Send me gentle peace and healing, if you can. Thanks to all who read this. Love BE
 

FifiMo

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Feb 10, 2010
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Hiya,

Not sure if you are aware, but this can be an indication that your meditation is having a positive healing impact. The tiredness comes as part of the body cleanses itself and heals. Might also be useful to note what meditations you were doing when this started happening...I'd like to hazard a guess that they were ones where you already know that changes could be of benefit to you. So, rather than it being a concern it can be a positive indication that the healing is working.

The reason I haven't posted any accounts yet is because I have got a couple of diagnosed health issues so I know when I start these meditations that I am already carrying an 'injury'. Having done lots of these I know it is a process and with me the fatigue and tiredness happens at the outset then improves over time as the healing process takes place. So, no point in me posting on a daily basis because it would have given some strange accounts and experiences! LOL

This my personal contribution to this thread and it is based on personal knowledge and experience and is not intended as any kind of medical advice or endorsement.


Fiona
 

Skye

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Aug 29, 2006
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SW Scotland
Hi BE and Fiona

What interesting comments.

I'm following the challenge, and felt wonderful for the first week - positive, and thinking more clearly.

Then out of the blue I had a severe attack of vertigo on Wednesday. Out of the blue because there had been no triggers. Since then, though nothing like as bad, I still feel woozy and tired.

I was wondering if perhaps I was overdoing the meditations. I'd done some before, but never on such a regular basis. I'm hoping you're right, Fiona, and the exhaustion is a sign of healing. I'm going to carry on though, if I didn't I'd never know.

Hope you're both soon back to full health.:)

This is my experience only, not intended to promote or negate the validity of the program.
 

Big Effort

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Dear Fiona,

Thank you for posting of your personal insights to the process. I came to the conclusion this morning that this strange 'head-flu' must be related to all the yoga and meditation I am doing. So reading your post was very reassuring.

Actually I am over-dosing on the personal dev. front because of timing circumstances. I do yoga and yoga nidra anyway, but my Indian guru has set me lots of prahnic breathing to do..... then the 21 day Healing Meditation cropped up, and as I think Deepak Chopra is light years ahead of us Westerners, I had to take that opportunity as it arose. By strange coincidence I was given a scholarship to participate in Jack Kornfield's Mindfulness course, which started last week also. Add to this my decision to get more physical exercise (bought a road bike and a mountain bike on 10th March), or rowing indoors if weather is not great..... and I have a situation of overload.

I am glad you call it healing, as to me it feels like head-flu, but not too terrible. Slept last night, did EFT tapping to let off tension in the head, which worked and let me rest. This morning I am very very tired, and intend to rest some more.

I am recording all the 21 Chopra sessions (actually Best Beloved is), so I can let you have a copy of that if you aren't able to do it while it is online.

What tipped me over? I think the pranic breathing is more powerful that I thought, and then all the huffing and puffing as I peddle up hill - that is when it occured. And yes, there is a connection, as I have long wanted to regain my fitness: I used to jog, do some weight training, cycle and I was lean, fit and strong. Want that back, for me.

Thank you for letting me know, as I am not experienced in such matters. My aversion to religion or any organised, ritual, prayer etc has stopped me doing things like this in the past.

I shall grab the 'healing' explanation, and look forward to pleasanter feelings shortly. I am very grateful to you for sharing this. We have one case of dementia, brother with aneurysm (doing absolutely brilliantly, really! our own private miracle there), and I don't think hubby and I could have coped if I had a mini-stroke of my own! So, Fiona, onwards and upwards, I look forward to healing.
Love BE

Postscript: I notice that the Healing Meditation worked on mind-body connection the first week, and now week two is about connecting mind-body-spirit..... and the spiritual stuff is a Big Deal for me, at least it was. This coinciding with a time when I am 'over-doing' the pers. dev. aspect, added to coming to terms with the huge slide in Mum. It sure felt like overwhelm, but I'll opt for the term 'healing' any day!

I found your post very reassuring. Wonder what my yogi will have to say.
 
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