Now, at 3:47 a.m., I have been up for 2 hours and 14 minutes. And so it begins (again)…
The last month has been another challenging period in our family’s interminable travels with Mom’s dementia. Around this time two years ago, we faced similar concerns: Mom was unhappy and frustrated with her living situation, especially as she had stopped driving. Back then, we, her adult children, scrambled and fumbled and whirled ourselves into a state of anxiety over how to address Mom’s issues: We had become certain that the only recourse was to move her out of Home, and move her into a “home.”
When nothing seemed to be a good fit, or obstacles and uncertainties caused us to spin faster and more wildly, we finally realized that there must be an alternative to how we were thinking and what we were doing. Thank goodness for my sister, who managed to rally a neighbor of my mom’s to provide help: Long story short, “L” stepped in and up, and provided our family with care for our mom, and time for us to regroup.
So it has been two years of a deep breath for all of us. As of this moment, however, we have returned to the thought that Mom needs a different environment and a deeper level of care. (To be clear, this current state of thinking originated with our mother’s demand and declaration that she must, she will move “back Home.” She can not express exactly what that looks like, or where it is, but she has spent a month packing furiously and often waiting for a “ride home.” Over and over again, we have had to thwart her aim: She already lives in the one and only home/house she has.)
Finally, last week, all of us—including “L,” her intrepid caregiver—simultaneously agreed that the time has come: Mom must be moved. Ironically, that is the granting of her wish; however, it is a wish that she can not visualize or describe. Said “wish,” in its fulfillment, may be the very thing that brings her to her knees.
Anywhere we move her likely will not sate the feeling that she craves: peace and purpose.
So how do we accommodate her and our hopes? Where lies that accommodation? Here, I could launch into a diatribe about “peace within,” or the universal presence of a divine kingdom and its inner dwelling. In the distant, milky past, these are ideas that my mother and I would discuss for hours. But then the harshest of earthly realities strikes: My mother’s dementia does not allow her to grasp abstracts, or at least to retain them; and her cognitive challenges include decreased judgment and reasoning. Her mood swings are certain to occur, but we never know when or for how long.
To encourage that mind to look within, or to breathe deeply, or to be grateful for her lovely home and its nature-filled surroundings is a fool’s errand. She may understand the intention of such suggestions, but she will not remember them, nor would she be able to engage them.
Thus, here we are again. And here I am, watching my own mind try to retrace what we did in the previous version of this challenge two years ago, and how to do it differently. Thankfully, while Mom’s mind has shifted away from reasoned understanding, my own (by dint of sheer need) has acquired a greater ability to focus and direct intention. And as with distance healing for others’ physical concerns, one can stimulate and amplify a vibration of peace for others: So it shall be for my mother.
What I return to (which took me a while to access last time) is the mantra “Sat Kartar,” or, “God is the Doer and the Truth.” One could also say, “Let go, let God;” or, “What is meant to be, shall be.”
All such mantras reroute a wayward mind, one that attempts to juggle, analyze, or fix too much. When yoked to God’s will, one’s own will can ease up on the reins. When anchored in God’s wisdom, one’s own mind can discern and dismiss irrelevant or misguided choices. When one consciously breathes into the vast void that is paradoxically the eternal entirety and wholeness, one can temper the demands of this earthbound existence.
With the mantra—or whatever mantra “appears” on any given day—I also have returned to the most fundamental of breathing techniques: “in for 4; out for 8.” Typically, after a few rounds, the counts become closer to 6 and 12. And I find that I breathe in through the nose, and exhale through the nose, eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye. Sometimes a groan or sad sigh emerges: Whatever is imprisoned within is given the opportunity to escape. Usually, after 5 minutes, I begin to play with the calmed, deeper breath: whistle in, whistle out; or, in through pursed lips, and out through the mouth with tongue extended.
This is a case when the body knows more than the mind: Let the physical need guide the remedy. And such is the case of the spiritual need and remedy: God knows, the Universe knows—let them lead the way.