Posted by Ellen Sichel on January 11, 2012
When traveling by plane, one of the first instructions you are given is to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting it on the person next to you needing help.
This is very true of caregiving. Our lives center around the patient and before long, we neglect our needs. We do not take time to eat properly, exercise and participate in the activities we used to enjoy. We grow frustrated, angry and depleted. We feel guilty for feeling this way when our loved one is suffering, which perpetuates the spiral.
We cannot give what we do not have.
It is vital to remember to take care of ourselves. Each day we need to take time to fill up which will help both you and your loved one. When we do, we are more centered, more efficient and have more stamina. We can fill up so we can give with the same love and compassion we show ourselves.
Let me know in the comments below how you might be able to take better care of yourself.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on August 29, 2011
Cultivating a change in our attitudes unlock the mind from the inner obstacles that create agitation. The keys to the locks are in these four practices.
In previous posts I have focused on the first two:
- Friendliness toward the happy
- Compassion for the unhappy
The third is: Delight in the virtuous
What this is talking about is that to help the mind, we need to appreciate others virtuous qualities rather than trying to pull them down.
Others might be extremely giving or knowledgeable in ways that make you feel “less than” and we envy them and are critical rather than complimentary.
The practice of taking delight in another would be to look at their qualities with the possibility of cultivating them within yourself.
Focus on their kindness, generosity or whatever quality they display and practice emulating it.
Give this a try and let me know in the comments below what happened. If you could not find delight, what do you think got in the way?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on August 22, 2011
Helping the mind remain calm and undisturbed is a lifelong practice. Often our thoughts are agitated from our reactions to other people.
A chapter in the yoga texts focuses on four categories of people and how cultivating certain attitudes will help.
Cultivate attitude of: Compassion for the unhappy
This one seems easy when we first look at it. Of course we are compassionate for others who are not happy. However, when we are around people that we find annoying and whining, are we able to be merciful toward them?
It is easy to get frustrated and judgmental with those individuals.
Next time you find yourself feeling impatient with someone who is unhappy, even if their behavior is inappropriate, take a breath and look beyond the behavior and practice compassion, even if you do not feel compassionate.
Your mind will be calmer and your attitude might help them feel better about themselves.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. If you could not practice compassion, what do you think got in the way?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on August 19, 2011
Acceptance is observation of life and suspension of judgment about whether what is happening is good or bad, right or wrong…. Ron Smothermon
When we observe what is happening without imposing our labels, we are freed up to stay in the moment.
In the moment, no matter what the moment brings you can feel calm and centered if you allow your mind to relax around what is happening.
I have had the opportunity to practice this the past week. I have a virus that has forced me to slow down and take time off from the Cancer Center where I teach. At first I was quite frustrated and resistant to that prospect, but as time has gone on I realize that my body needs the time to heal.
I decided to step out of my judgment about my situation and embrace the experience of staying home, resting and accomplishing what I can when I feel up to it. At times my mind what’s to chime in and label myself as lazy, but then I take a breath, get centered and am once again accepting and compassionate to myself.
Let me know in the comments below how you relate to the quote. When do you notice yourself in judgment? What have you done to make a shift to acceptance?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on August 15, 2011
Elders are often stuck in their way of thinking and communication can get quite frustrating. It is clear that no matter what is said, they are not going to change, but we try anyway bringing increased tension and frustration.
There is another way: Compassion
It is easy to practice when you are not so invested in the situation, but the challenge is to practice compassion with a parent who “pushes your buttons”.
It is challenging not to argue and judge when they are being stubborn or negative.
Step back, take a breath and consciously change your focus to see beyond their behavior. Look at them as a human being with fears and struggles.
When you make this shift, your will be more calm and centered and can bring that state into the relationship with them, meeting them where they are at.
Give this a try next time you are with elders that are frustrating and let me know in the comments below how it went. If you could not make the shift, what do you think happened?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on August 12, 2011
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” Dalai Lama
This quote from the Dalai Lama is quite powerful. One definition of compassion is: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.
This is a practice of shifting your focus away from our judgments and separateness from others to seeing the suffering of others, even those who you do not like.
Relieving suffering is not about fixing anything or forgiving anyone, but showing up to life with openness, kindness, fullness and peace.
Your presence affects those around you. When you realize that we are all connected as humans and you can choose to live more peacefully with compassion, rather than allowing your emotions to negatively impact your well being and the wellbeing of others.
Let me know in the comments below if you were able to focus on compassion. If not, what do you think got in the way?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on July 25, 2011
Phone calls that require waiting or complications can trigger frustration and anger.
When we encounter these situations it is challenging to remain calm and patient, especially if the person on the other end is rude, unhelpful or slow.
We take it personally,and the consequence is physical tension and emotional anxiety.
It is a more productive interaction when you are calm and centered.
Next time you have this kind of call, try this:
- Bring your feet under you and feel your feet grounded on the floor.
- Take an easy inhale allowing your belly soften and then slowly let it out, a minimum of three times
- Know that you too have been rude or confused when asked to do something- this will give you some compassion and patience
- Remember that the situation is not a personal affront
- Keep the situation in perspective and know that it is one small part of your entire day. Take a breath and move on.
Let me know in the comments below what you tried and how it worked for you. If nothing helped, let me know what you think happened?