Meditation and Stress Reduction
Meditation 'works just as well as anti-depressants' according to Johns Hopkins study
A study following 3,500 people in the U.S. found evidence that half-hour a day of meditation can reduce depression as well as popping a pill -- without the side effects. Click the title above to read the entire article.
New study shows increased emotional stability, stress reduction as result of meditation
Science Daily published an article titled: "Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain", about a joint study by Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University, among other institutions, which followed three groups during an 8-week study with pre-and-post-testing. One group used mindful attention meditation, another compassion meditation while a third, control group, received general health education. The truly amazing and unique aspect of the results come not only from the changes in the brain produced by meditation (which has been well documented in a number of studies) but rather in the fact that the emotional stability and stress reduction properties of meditation gave lasting benefits, outside of the time spent meditating.
I have shared a number of things through this website, including practical tips & suggestions, creative ideas, books, music and links, silliness and coping strategies, along with my own experiences and insights. But this is probably the single most important information I can impart to you, the caregiver, because it empowers you to profoundly change your own experience of the caregiving role. You can reduce your stress, and achieve the best interaction possible between you, family members, and all those along the journey with you. It is powerful. It works. And I highly encourage you to try it.
The "it" I am speaking of is creative visualization. If you have no experience in this area, fear not! It is an easy, perfectly acceptable and highly positive tool to use, for your own wellbeing and that of your loved ones.
One of the very most damaging aspects of caregiving, is the constant anxiety because of the pressure on you to make the best decisions -- not only for yourself and family, but for your loved one as well -- made all the more difficult because often there is no clear answer and lots of conflicting needs. The negative impacts of stress and anxiety on caregivers is only now truly coming to light through long term research and it is very alarming. That's why I want to share this tool with you and encourage you to use it whenever you need it.
Creative visualization exercise: Sit comfortably in a room where you won't be disturbed for a few minutes. Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for three slow breaths. Close your eyes and consciously relax your shoulders and neck, moving a bit if that feels good. Now, begin to imagine whatever situation or decision is causing you anxiety, but see it in completely positive ways, being resolved for everyone's highest good, seeing those involved as smiling and cooperative, helpful and happy (including the person for whom you are caring). See the people interacting in supportive, loving ways. See and feel yourself smiling and relaxed as you give love and care, and receive help and gratitude. Create as much vivid detail and emotional power as possible in the images, keeping everything positive, smooth and flowing. If you can't see the best outcome, you can simply visualize everyone involved as happy and cooperative. Stay with it for a few minutes, until you feel "complete". Then, release the situation, affirm that it is so, and wait in full expectation of a positive outcome. If you practice a faith tradition, you can also add a prayer for your visualization to be accomplished. Not beseeching, but affirming. I think people should be more like cats and ask for what they want in no uncertain terms.