3 Mindfulness Lessons From The Ones With Dementia.
Both with my mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's and some of the older residents at Zen Hospice, I have had the opportunity, many times, to experience what it's like to be with a person with dementia. The same questions asked over and over. The accusations. The impossibility to carry on 'normal' conversations. The underline distress . . . Those are the 'bad' parts.
There are also some aspects of relating with the memory impaired that are feeding right into Buddhist practice:
- Staying in the present - no need to dwell in the past, or project into the future, for these are no longer part of reality.
- Operating from empty self - in the absence of another self to relate to, one's constructed self becomes irrelevant; there is only what happens in this moment, bad words exchanged a few minutes ago never took place.
- Practicing equanimity, compassion, and loving kindness - reactive anger would be very unkind; love that forgives and truly understands is the only option.
Last Sunday, I had most profound time with Jane*, an older woman at Zen Hospice. She and I, both happy from getting what we needed from each other, as we danced with words and I let her have the lead. She felt understood and loved. And I got an ultimate lesson from her in the art of mindful relating.
* Not her real name.