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Transcendental Meditation for caregivers: a personal experience
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14 April 2018
Owen, who retired from the Civil Service when his mother became ill, learned Transcendental Meditation in June of 2017 at the Glasgow Transcendental Meditation Centre to help cope with the stress of being a full time carer.
Attending an Intro Talk
Owen first heard about Transcendental Meditation years ago but never followed up on it. Then, back in May, he attended a talk at Dyslexia Scotland hosted by a Transcendental Meditation teacher named Iain Campbell. ''He talked about his own dyslexia and how meditating had helped him overcome the educational difficulties he had experienced during his time in university. I was able to relate to his struggles as I'm also dyslexic and I thought meditation could help me going forward as it had helped Iain.''
Iain explained how easy it was to do Transcendental Meditation, and how it was only required to be done for 20 minutes twice a day. That really suited Owen's new schedule as he now cares for his mother.
Leaving Work to Become a Full Time Carer
Leaving the Civil Service to take care of his mother left Owen feeling tired and stressed. His day was no longer structured—it became dependent on the needs of an unwell family member. As the structure that he had when he was working disappeared, the level of stress increased. He also felt isolated due to natural separation from work colleagues.
''As a carer, Transcendental Meditation seemed like a good fit. It would help deal with the stress of the caring combined with the isolation.''
Learning Transcendental Meditation
''The learning process was effortless which actually made me wonder if I was doing it right!'' says Owen, who had previously tried other forms of meditation which involved more concentration, more physical preparation and therefore required a bit of effort. ''TM was surprisingly easy, I was able to do it right away and I felt the benefits almost immediately.''
''When I meditate I feel calm and restful but not sleepy. When I come out of meditation I feel very refreshed and more alert and focused. I feel like I got a deep rest even though it was only 20 minutes.''
How Meditating Has Helped
''During the day I feel a lot more aware of my surroundings. More slowed down. More prepared not to react to my mother being agitated'' says Owen, who now has a better perspective of his mother's point of view. ''I now understand that her agitation is just an expression of her frustration.''
''Not reacting or interrupting, listening more, and being calm helps the agitated state be less intense and last less time than is normally the case. Instead of two or three days to recover, it only takes a meditation. This had a relaxing effect on my mother and a reassuring effect on my father. The dynamic in the family has changed.' This has resulted in times where Owen's family is cohesive, less argumentative and overall more calm.
Coping With Exhaustion
Caring for elderly relatives can be exhausting. You can't predict when you are going to get time off and lack of rest can be like torture. Meditating has been a great way for Owen to charge his batteries. ''I'm now able to take fewer naps throughout the day which means I get a better sleep at night.''
Removing Unhealthy Choices
''Prior to the meditation I was constantly trying to juggle too many things. I was restless and agitated, and dealing with that stress by binge drinking to unhealthy levels.''
Thanks to feeling calmer Owen has been able to cut out alcohol. ''I just don't feel like drinking. I've learned that family is more important than a temporary release from the tensions of caring.'' He has also become aware of how the hangover from alcohol impairs his ability to be a good carer. ''Now that I am able to feel calm from Transcendental Meditation I can see that more clearly. I'm more attuned to my responsibilities and I've saved money too!''
Taking the time to meditate every day has helped Owen enormously from the position he was in before June. ''I would be running around like a headless chicken, trying to get everything done. Now I feel like I'm using my time better. I actually find I've got more time during the day than I did before I meditated.''
''The past couple of years have been particularly difficult caring for my mother, but I'm glad that through happenstance I was able to attend the talk with Iain Campbell at Dyslexia Scotland and learn to meditate from Angela Landers at the Glasgow Transcendental Meditation Centre.''
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See related articles:
∙ New study finds Transcendental Meditation reduces stress in family caregivers
∙ Hedging against Alzheimer's
∙ A Mother's Greatest Gift
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