We know how stressful being a family caregiver is. The unpredictable demands can make planning difficult and, unfortunately, one of the first things to fall by the wayside is “me time.”
For the past 14 years, during my many conversations with family caregivers about the importance of daily “me time,” I usually see plenty of nods of approval but also many dubious eye rolls. Today, let’s focus on helping everyone move to the positive head-nod section!
I am only asking you to set aside 10 minutes per day for “me time” – that’s just about 1% of the time in a day; a small but meaningful fraction that can – and will – improve your overall quality of life.
I cannot think of a better way to help reduce stress and rebalance than a 10-minute meditation. According to Dr. Deepak Chopra meditation delivers the following benefits:
• Relief from stress and anxiety
• Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
• Lower cholesterol levels
• More efficient oxygen use by the body
• Restful sleep
Additionally, according to Dr. Chopra, new research is demonstrating that meditation has the power to restore the brain. A medical study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer, but also produced measurable changes in various areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
Although meditation is an easy practice to learn and adopt into your daily routine, there are many myths that prevent people from giving it a chance. The most popular meditation myths include:
· Meditation is difficult (Nope)
· I don’t have enough time to meditate (Really?)
· You have to quiet your mind in order to have a successful meditation practice. (Not a chance)
· It takes years of dedicated practice to receive any benefit from meditation (No way)
For years I fell victim to many of the myths about meditation and it delayed me from experiencing a readily available resource that ultimately delivered me invaluable moments of quiet and peace each day; a time I can turn off the chatter and gain a sense of tranquility. (Come on, isn’t it worth a try? Especially if you are a family caregiver?)
Meditation comes in many shapes and sizes, which means that you are almost certain to find an approach that works best for your personal needs and interests. Just Google “meditation practices" and you’ll immediately see for yourself.
Enough talk and let me show you what I mean…
I am a person who responds to visualization so a mediation practice I particularly like is Louise Hay's Color Meditation. This mediation uses color to help focus your mind and thoughts.
Let me have the pleasure of taking you through it… You are about to take a trip by imagining yourself climbing a mountain of color. Before you begin, remember there are no missteps; this is your journey. Just read this meditation a couple of times so you understand the general idea and flow, set a timer for 10 minutes and you are on your way…
Close your eyes. Relax and take several deep breaths. Let your body’s tension go.
During this trip, be aware of your breathing. Each time you take in a breath, you will be inhaling a color, which will have an effect on your body.
You are going to start at the bottom of a colorful mountain. At the bottom, everything is Red: the grass, the flowers, the trees and even the air. Each time you inhale you breathe in Red. And as you continue to do this, you feel your energy level pick up. With each Red inhalation, your fears drop away and you have the courage to be yourself. Look around: everything you see is Red. Feel this Red.
As you begin to proceed up the mountain, you arrive at the second level and now you see everything is colored Orange. Breathe in Orange with each inhalation. As this Orange color enters your body, you feel your inhibitions drop away and you become more aware of both your physical vitality and your mental powers. You feel balanced. Everything you see is Orange. Feel this Orange.
Now you are ready to move to the next level and when you arrive, you see everything here is Yellow. Now you are breathing in Yellow with each inhalation. As you breathe in Yellow, you feel your mind expanding. Sense the freedom gained through the use of your mind. You feel Yellow saturating your body with happiness and a joy for living. Everything you see is Yellow. Feel this Yellow.
Now it is time to climb to the next level. You feel great peace and tranquility as you enter the Green world. Everything at this level is Green.
You are at the midpoint of your climb and it’s time to rest.
Breathe in Green with each inhalation. See the color coming into your lungs. Feel the balance within yourself. The Green is soothing your muscles and relaxing your body and your mind. Everything you see is Green. Feel this Green.
OK, you’ve had a brief rest and now it’s time to climb further and reach the Blue plateau. Everything is Blue. You begin to sense eternity. You have left the valley and your sight has no limitations. Breathe in this Blue and feel faith entering your body. The Blue takes away all anxieties. Everything you see is Blue, feel this Blue.
You are now approaching the summit, climbing higher and gradually entering the Indigo level. Everything you see possesses that deep Indigo quality. Breathe in this color and acknowledge the value of your intuition. You are beginning to see the larger picture - beyond little personal problems - to get a sense of the journey of life. Breathe in the Indigo with each inhalation. Feel this Indigo. This Indigo breath is filling your body with love— a love for yourself and others.
With this knowledge, the climb to the mountaintop feels effortless. Here you see everything has turned a rich Violet color. As you breathe in this Violet color, you feel like eternity stretches out as far as you can see. You are filled with courage, balance, joy, peace, faith, love and understanding. With each Violet breath, feel the truth of the Universe as fear dissolves. Your flaws and your faults drop away. Everything you see is Violet. Feel this Violet.
Take a few moments and just soak it all in. Sense it. Feel it. And, today try to carry this feeling wherever you go.
Now open your eyes and slowly come back, feeling a wonderful gratitude for your special journey; a journey you can revisit every day at any time.
“Me time” is your time. It is a must not a maybe. Whatever you choose to do with it, enjoy the wonderful benefits it will deliver every day.
Help yourself. Help others.