A Spiritual Perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease and Caregiving (Part 3)
Posted Dec 23 2010 8:20am
In this series of articles I have been talking about how to transcend the pain and discomfort associated with Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving from a spiritual point of view.
By Donna McCullough
This process always begins with accepting the reality of one’s situation in the moment.
This may include accepting a diagnosis for oneself or a loved one, as well as accepting the thoughts and feelings about the diagnosis and how it will change your life.
Although this may seem like a contradiction, the next step is to not identify with nor attach to these very same thoughts and feelings. In other words, the idea here is to touch on them and then let them go.
In his book, “The Untethered Soul,” Michael Singer says that
“The bottom line is, you’ll never be free of problems until you are free from the part within that has so many problems.” (The Untethered Soul, p. 16).
He refers to this part of us that experiences problems as the inner roommate.
The inner roommate is the voice in your head that chatters all day long. Imagine if your thoughts were spoken by a person that followed you around all day saying out loud the things that you were thinking? Wouldn’t that be horrible?
The inner roommate is often critical and judgmental, very sensitive, jealous, insecure, fearful, flighty, harsh ... Would you like to live with someone like that?
Unfortunately you already do. But you do not have to be affected by this voice. You can transcend or move beyond your attachment to this voice by noticing it and letting our reaction to it go. (See Part II of this article for a more detailed discussion).
You move your awareness to the part of you that listens or watches the voice in the head. Remember that you are not the voice in the head, you are the Listener, the Watcher, the Witness, the Observer. Use whatever label helps you to connect with that neutral part of you.
You are so much more than the problems in your life, despite what the roommate says. And, there is so much more peace, love, and joy available to you despite what is going on in your life. It is just that most of us have never been taught this Truth nor how to move beyond the part of us that has so many problems.
This can be very helpful for someone who is a caregiver or someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
First you need to stay present in the moment and look within in order to notice the current state of affairs. Are you feeling depressed, resentful or bitter, empty, disappointed, abandoned by family and friends, exhausted, overwhelmed, hopeless and helpless?
Are you thinking that your life is difficult, and without joy?
Once you have identified that you are experiencing this kind of negative energy, the next step is to decide to let it go. You do this by moving your awareness to the part of you that Observes your experience, and then taking a deep breath and letting it go. It helps to relax your chest and belly on the exhale. You remind yourself that the real you is the part of you that notices your experiences. Your experiences will change, guaranteed. But the part of you that is watching NEVER CHANGES.
These ideas are not meant to be a quick fix as much as a practice that over time will free you from the bounds of the inner roommate. However, one immediate benefit that many people experience after they move their awareness to the Observer, is the ability to deal with problems in their lives with more clarity.
The Observer is much more logical than the roommate and you will find that you are less emotionally reactive to situations in your life as you witness or observe them. When problems arise we usually react to the current situation as well as unfinished business from the past. But when we move our awareness to the witness we find that we can deal with what is right in front of us more effectively because we are not reacting to past situations.
There is a lot more to be said about the ideas that I have introduced to you. If you find these ideas helpful please consider picking up a copy of the book and learning more about how to apply this process in your life. Sweet blessings to you!