Meditation for Caregivers
Meditation for the caregiver is a way of caring for the self, turning inward to access the highest good that resides in each of us and to tap into the love that permeates the universe. It touches the soul.
Setting the Stage
In just three to five minutes you can change the outlook on your present circumstances. The first minute can feel like five minutes as the thinking mind, the monkey mind with the to-do-list, is most active when you begin. Shorter periods may be helpful, but going beyond three minutes calms the thinking mind more deeply.
- Choose a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted.
- A beautiful picture or a lighted candle or smokeless oil lamp can be a neutral focal point.
- Many people find that closing the eyes helps them quiet the mind during meditation. Others may go to sleep or the mind becomes more active with the eyes closed. Discover what works best for you.
- Have a clock available if you want a timed meditation.
Essential Aspects As You Begin
Notice and acknowledge your state of mind and body. What emotions are you feeling? Is there tension in your body?
Breathing is an important part of relaxing meditation. Without breathing, you would not be alive. Acknowledge that fact as you breathe in this way:
- On the inbreath, say within the mind, “I breathe….”
- On the outbreath continue within the mind, “…the breath of life.”
- Mindfulness: Keep the mind focused on your breathing. If the mind wanders, bring it gently back with a statement such as: “There will be time for that later; now I will use my mind to fill my awareness with the True Self.”
Short Meditation (less than one minute)
- Take a deep breath.
- Hold it for a short while.
- Release the breath and let it go completely.
- As the breath goes out, say silently in your mind, “I choose to let go of my…”(worry, stress, fear, depression – you choose the feeling).
Three to Five Minute Breathing Meditation
This meditation goes more deeply and is best done when you have a space of quietness of three to five minutes or more. You may find it helpful to record this in your own voice and listen to it while meditating.
To begin: Breathe deeply into the lower belly, below the navel. Some meditators like to feel the energy of the breath go all the way down to the tailbone. As you relax, focus on allowing yourself to feel the breath fully extend the lower belly. Feel the belly expand with the breath in the area around the pubic bone.
- Begin with ten breaths that are perhaps deeper and are received more slowly than you usually breathe. Count the breaths; it is a good way to keep the mind focused.
- Find your own rhythm and continue to be aware of your breathing for the entire meditation.
- Feel the breath as it goes all the way down from the head to the belly.
- Notice any tension you become aware of as the breath passes through the head, through the mouth and the throat. Note especially any discomfort that may be present around the heart, below the rib cage, at and below the navel and at the base of the body.
- Allow the breath to massage from within the areas of tension you discover.
- Continue for the full meditation with deep breaths at a comfortable speed for you. (There are variations listed below.)
- Near the end of the three to five minutes or before your ending time allow the breath to wash over the heart. (With practice you may want to extend the time beyond five minutes.)
- Close by bringing to mind something you are grateful for. Say “thank you” either aloud or silently within the mind.
As you become more accustomed to and comfortable with your meditation experience, you may want to add any of these variations.
Silently become aware of these areas of possible tension as you continue to breathe and massage the area with breath if you notice discomfort or tension.
- Does the head have tension or discomfort?
- Is the throat clear so that you are able to speak your truth?
- Is there pain or unusual feeling in the area of the heart?
- Does the area below the rib cage feel blocked in any way?
- Do you feel blockage or a hunger at and below the navel?
- What feelings arise as you focus at the base of the body?
Recognize and do not avoid any feelings or emotions that arise. It is important to embrace emotions so that they can be dissolved and released by the breath. Embracing means hold the emotions in love and forgiveness. Self-criticism is not helpful. An attitude of, “Isn’t that interesting? I am still doing that, and I am ready to give that up”, is the most healing.
- Feel a warm soothing energy wash over the body as though you are standing in an energy bath.
- Focus your visual attention behind the closed eyelids. Appreciate any colors that arise spontaneously.
- It may be helpful to remind yourself of these things:
- With each breath I receive light, love and wisdom from my Creator.
- I am the beloved child of my Creator, and I am totally worthy of receiving the Creator’s love.
- Love is my birthright as a child of the Creator.
- If use of words is important for you, say this: “I am loved, I am loving, I am loveable…forever”.
Close by giving thanks for the light and love you have received.
Once you have settled into a receptive state through your breathing, it may be useful to go further and use the power of imagery. You can start with whatever of the meditation practice techniques works for you and then go on to refresh your spirit by allowing an inner journey. Choose any of the following that may seem appropriate to the moment.
- Imagine a place that holds beauty and serenity for you. It can be anywhere, at any time of the year: a beach, a garden, mountains, a forest, or a starry sky.
- Let golden light stream around and through you, dissolving pain of the body and burdens of the mind. Allow yourself a healing rest in that light.
- Let go of all thought. Open your heart to a visit from an animal, a child, an angel, a man or woman who will bring a sense of comfort and peace. Even if nothing seems to appear, you are being gifted by a loving presence.
- You are sitting in front of a lovely painting, a colorful bouquet of flowers, a window with a scenic view or any object that brings you joy.
- Think of a time in your life that was wholly joyous. Feel the emotions that come up associated with that experience.
Marilyn and John Hempstead have been meditating independently and together for over 30 years. They share some of the things that have changed their lives over the years.