There is no need to tell any of you what a challenging time we are living in. Life has really changed, and it has happened very quickly. There are so many uncertainties we are all facing. How bad will the pandemic get? How long will it last? Who will be the next among us to fall ill? In such times, what we need most is love.
I am moved by the irony of how my heart has opened to strangers at a time when we are cautioned against being out in public. Sheltering in my home with my wife and dog, I am constantly awakened to the present moment by deep feelings of appreciation for people I don’t even know. I am feeling an urge to thank everyone- the mail carriers, the store clerks, the employees of Zoom, neighbors staying out of their cars and walking around the neighborhood, the children playing soccer in the street, the neighbors who planted the flowers in bloom, the utility workers who keep at it, the medical workers who are hidden in the places I hope I don’t visit anytime soon. The list is endless.
In our Mindful Caregiver Education courses, we teach ways of keeping compassion activated amidst the demanding circumstances of caregiving. We draw upon the ancient wisdom traditions and the most recent science to explain how to access our deep and innate well of compassion. I am finding these teachings extremely relevant during this time of Corona.
For many, accessing compassion for strangers is extremely difficult. In the world we live in, this is quite common. Thupten Jinpa, in his wonderful book A Fearless Heart, explains that acknowledging two essential truths about all humans is helpful for breaking down the barriers we put up between us and strangers. One, all beings strive for happiness and freedom from suffering. And two, beings are dependent upon each other for their very existence; we survive because of our interdependence. When we stop to think about it, we see it is absolutely true. Just take a moment to think of all the beings who have played a part in bringing you your most recent meal. Again, the list is endless.
When life has been turned on its head and I am wondering if there will be toilet paper on the shelves of my local market when I run out, I can’t help but think about those people who are working hard to see that it is there for me to purchase. And, when I wake up in the morning and remember that I am not going into work, I think of all the faces I will not be seeing. And, when I turn on the radio or pick up the newspaper, I think of all the people who have been impacted by this pandemic. How are all these strangers holding up?
Just like me, all beings want to be happy and free from suffering. And, just like me, all beings are dependent upon others. The wise teacher Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.” Even when we are confined to our homes, nothing could be truer. So, when fear and feelings of isolation creep in, turn toward compassion. Turn toward love. It is really needed right now. And, I think it is what will allow us to emerge out of this difficult time better off than we were before.
From a recent study conducted by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving,
“…there are more than 43.5 million adults in the United States who have provided unpaid care to an adult or child within the last year. 34.2 million of these Americans provide care to an adult age 50 or older. On average, a family caregiver will spend over 24 hours each week providing care to a loved one, although many report spending over 40 hours per week on caregiving duties.”
Caregiving, in any capacity, can be quite rewarding but it also comes with its own set of challenges. For some, caregiving can be stressful, overwhelming, strenuous and frustrating. Asccare.com lists a number of difficulties for you to pay close attention to, here are a few;
- Depression and isolation
- Sleep deprivation
- Emotional and physical stress
- Lack of privacy
- Being afraid to ask for help
- Financial strain
- Managing time
Coping with any one of these challenges can be trying though many of you face multiple challenges on a daily basis. Thankfully there are mindfulness-based tools and approaches to help you build emotional resilience to maintain delivery of high-quality and compassionate care to your loved ones.
Our Mindful Caregiving Education (MCE) introduces caregivers to mindfulness-based approaches and tools to help build their emotional resilience and work with stress. These approaches help caregivers successfully navigate the unique and challenging situations that can arise in caregiving. Through mindfulness-based education, you can build the skills needed to take on the common challenges of caregiving.
Zen Caregiving Project’s Mindful Family Caregiving, Four-Part Online Series, starting April 7, helps family caregivers find support and community while sharing resilience-building tools to improve the caregiving experience. This online series will help you:
- Increase the capacity to cope with discomfort and suffering
- Create a plan for maintaining self-care
- Establish healthy boundaries in relationships
- Deepen and sustain compassion for self and others
I invite you to take a moment and consider our Mindful Family Caregiving course and see if it fits with your schedule. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com
Mindfulness and meditation don’t have to be complicated. Our advice: start small, with a few moments daily where you mindfully follow your breath, and grow from there. Below are some resources to support you on your journey.
Created by meditation teacher Dr. Danny Penman, and Clinical Psychology Professor Mark Williams, this website gives a simple overview of mindfulness and provides resources and apps for those who want to explore further.
Written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this book offers a step-by-step introduction to the practice of mindfulness and how to cultivate mindfulness in the face of stress, pain, and illness. You can find videos of Kabat-Zinn’s meditation teachings on his website.
This free app has guided meditations, a timer, and the option to show who else across the globe is meditating at the same time as you are.
This meditation app offers a free a 10-day beginner’s course that guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.
The SF Zen Center has in-person beginner’s introductions to meditation while also sharing videos of talks and teachings online.
Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico offers daily Zen meditation, weekly dharma talks, and programs on Buddhist teachings, art, neuroscience, and social engagement. The center also provides professional training for end-of-life-care and Buddhist chaplaincy.
Foundations of Mindful Caregiving 4-Part Online Series introduces mindfulness-based tools and approaches to caregivers, helping to build their emotional resilience and supporting them to maintain delivery of high-quality and compassionate care.
Instructors: Mary Doane
Foundations of Mindful Caregiving is a deep immersion into time-tested practices for cultivating mindfulness and compassion in caregivers. This weekend course offers a methodology for maintaining healthy and sustainable relationships through challenging times.
We can customize our courses to fit the needs of your organization and of those you serve. Using our core curriculum as the foundation of any course, we can tailor our content to focus on different aspects of caregiving and loss, and tailor the length and format of the course to fit your requirements.