Mindfulness and meditation are two effective techniques for reducing stress associated with caring for a loved-one with dementia. Although each of these are shown to be effective stress-reducing activities, UCLA researchers found even greater health benefits to caregivers when these two skills are combined. Various studies indicate that practicing mindful meditation improves both emotional and physical well-being.
While some consider meditation and mindfulness as separate but related concepts, most all agree that they are two complimentary skills. The lines between the two seem to be blurred with some believing that you can’t do one without doing the other. Perhaps, the real question is can you be mindful without actually meditating.
Eric Harrison, Director of the Perth Meditation Centre, says they are not always exactly the same. According to Harrison, ‘meditation’ is “about body-mind stillness, detachment from thought, relaxation and rest.”
Mindfulness is the practice of being present, aware and in the moment. The mind focuses on the here and now, not troubles of the past or worries of the future.
One can choose to be mindful any time, during any day, by totally and completely focusing on only one single thought or one specific activity. An afternoon break for a cup of tea or coffee can cultivate mindfulness when the focus shifts totally to the experience. By immersing ourselves into the moment, feeling the warmth of the cup, smelling the aroma of the brew, savoring the flavor, and visualizing one of our favorite peaceful places, we can create mindfulness.
Due to increased awareness and focus on wellness principles, the practice of mindfulness meditation has become one of the most well-known types of meditation. Making this part of a daily routine, can change our attitude, behaviors and responses. In numerous studies, caregivers practicing mindfulness report being calmer and more relaxed. There is increased satisfaction and emotional wellness which helps to prevent or decrease many stress related health problems.
Happy and healthy caregivers are always going to be able to provide care in a more loving and patient manner. There are less frustrations for everyone concerned. And, at the end of the day, probably everyone will eat better, sleep better, and laugh a little more often.
Caregiver Corner by Pam Johnson