Friday, November 6, 2009

Being Still, Letting Go

Painting © Copyright 2009 Sheryl Karas

When life is chaotic it can feel extremely difficult to find a calm center to relax into and let go. I think this painting I did recently epitomizes that. Too much happening to feel "meditative". But it is a mandala. Breathe in and focus on the very center.

Or close your eyes and begin again.

The mandala above is a challenging place to begin a focused meditation practice. I can't do the practice I suggested above with this piece myself. But that's why I chose it for this article. Living with someone with dementia is like that. The chaotic disrupting influence of the dementia patient's fractured thought process and the worry, frustration and seemingly endless series of problems creates a backdrop that screams for attention even when you find a few minutes of "peace" just for yourself.

Some things in a caregiving situation take a lot of time to work through. Throughout my book I offer lots of suggestions caregivers can do to make things go better. But what about those things that can't be improved? You know what I'm referring to: the endless repeating questions that you just answered 10 minutes ago, finding the roll of tin foil in the refrigerator along with the unwrapped meat that mom insisted on putting away, the obsessive paranoia, the accusations that someone broke in and stole the purse you know will someday show up someplace weird. The list gets longer all the time and no well-meaning guidebook or caregiving professional has an answer for how to deal with it all.

It's natural to obsess on a situation that is this upsetting. And if there IS something you're overlooking -- maybe Mom's medications need to be adjusted? -- it's wise to get a professional opinion.

But, I know, sometimes you've done everything you can think of to do and the craziness doesn't end. Today I had an insight into this. Just going away, closing the door and obsessing on how much you hate the situation you're in does NOT make it better. :-) Yeah, it was an insight. . .  or rather a reminder to be in the present moment. In this perfect moment in time there is no dementia patient in the room. In this perfect moment there is nothing going on that can't wait until someone (not necessarily me) returns.

By really being in the present, I can breathe and return to a feeling of peace myself.