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WebSideStory Pick of the Week! 3/16/98

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Senior Housing Net
    JULY 21, 2000
    Mindfulness and Love In Your Role As A Caregiver
    By: Gail R Mitchell
    Mother Teresa said, "It is not how much 
    we do, but how much love we put into 
    doing it. It is not how much we give, but 
    how much love we put into the giving."
    Your intentions in caring for your loved 
    one are very important. If you have been 
    thrown into this role, there most likely 
    wasn't enough time to really think about 
    clarifying your intentions. 
    Some of the immediate issues most caregivers 
    concern themselves with are:
    ·Where do I begin?
    ·How can I give my loved one the quality 
    care he/she needs?
    ·Where do I find out more information 
    about their condition?
    ·Does my loved one need another consultation?
    ·How do I juggle my work with caring for them?
    These are just a few of the questions that pop 
    up immediately when you become a caregiver 
    in an instant as the result of their diagnosis. 
    While these issues are priorities, there are 
    others at hand, which sometimes get overlooked 
    by many in their roles. They are mindfulness, 
    giving and love. These three areas are imperative 
    in creating a dance of harmony, cooperation, 
    fluidness and balance between yourself, as the 
    caregiver and the one you are caring for.
    The "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by 
    Sogyal Rinpoche speaks of mindfulness in the 
    following way:
    "The practice of mindfulness, of bringing the 
    scattered mind home, and so of bringing the 
    different aspects of our being into focus, or 
    stilling yourselves in the nature of your mind, 
    accomplishes three things…
    1.	All the fragmented aspects of 
    ourselves, which have been at war, 
    settle and dissolve and become friends. 
    In that settling we begin to understand 
    ourselves more, and sometimes even 
    have glimpses of the radiance of our 
    fundamental nature.
    2.	The practice of mindfulness defuses 
    our negativity, aggression, and turbulent 
    emotions, which may have been gathering 
    power over many lifetimes. Rather than 
    suppressing emotions or indulging in them, 
    here it is important to view them, your 
    thought and whatever arises with an 
    acceptance and generosity that are as 
    open and spacious as possible. In this 
    space there is a feeling so warm and cozy 
    that you feel enveloped and protected by it, 
    as if by a blanket of sunlight. As you remain 
    open and more mindful, your negativity will 
    slowly be defused; you will begin to feel 
    well in your being.
    3.	The practice unveils and reveals your 
    essential Good Heart, because it dissolves 
    and removes the unkindness or the harm in 
    you. Only when we have removed the harm 
    in ourselves, do we become truly useful to 
    others.... we allow our true Good Heart, the 
    fundamental goodness and kindness that 
    are our real nature, to shine out and 
    become the warm climate in which our true 
    being flowers."
    By now, you may be saying to yourself,” What 
    is she talking about?”
    If you can reflect back to a time when you 
    felt loved and you loved, remember how it 
    felt to you. Now remember a time when you 
    were angry or hurt. What did that feel like? 
    Can you recall at time in your childhood when 
    you wanted to tell your parent about 
    something exciting only to be told, “I am 
    busy, you will have to wait until I am finished.”?  
    Do you remember a time when a relative 
    might have pinched your cheek out of love 
    and you thought to yourself, ”Ouch! That 
    hurt!”? A gentle stroking touch would have 
    felt more loving to you. Now, can you 
    remember a time when you fell asleep and 
    woke up feeling uncomfortable because 
    your bed linens were crumpled beneath 
    In caring for another person, mindfulness, 
    intent, and love, all play an important part 
    in meeting the needs of both of you. If you 
    are not in a loving space; if you are coming 
    from fear, resentment, guilt, obligation, 
    feeling overly responsible, or some negative 
    space when you are caring for your loved one, 
    your role will become burdensome and you 
    will burn out.
    When you come from mindfulness, with a 
    clear intent and love, your role will become 
    easier and more effortless. Your loved one 
    will feel the differences as well. Slow down 
    before you take action. Be fully present in 
    all that you do. So you are thinking, “this 
    is full time work in itself. I don’t have the 
    time or the patience to do any of this!” 
    So be it. 
    However, if you see how much time you 
    waste, how much confusion is caused by 
    your actions, your attitude and vibrations 
    if you aren’t focused and coming from a 
    loving space, you will realize that by aligning 
    your self and becoming aware, you will 
    create much more peace, joy and happiness 
    for yourself and your loved one.
    If your loved one has suffered a stroke 
    and cannot speak, if they have a form of 
    dementia and do not understand, or if 
    they are in the final stages of their life 
    and cannot describe the sensations they 
    are feeling as their body is closing down, 
    then you will not be able to tune into what 
    they may really be needing in the moment. 
    Just as you were able to recall about the 
    time you were pinched instead of stroked, 
    or that crumpled bed linen that awakened 
    you, it is your responsibility to tune in to 
    what your loved one truly needs.
    Love is the most powerful healer for both 
    of you. Open your hearts so that your 
    loved one may open theirs. Shift your 
    role from being a burden to being a 
    remarkable gift. You have a choice in how 
    transforming and rewarding your 
    caregiving experience can be. Make the 
    right choice for yourself and the one 
    you are caring for.
    Richest blessings to you.
    We look forward to the opportunity 
    of serving you. We welcome your 
    comments, suggestions, and questions. 
    Please feel free to contact us at: or

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