—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Being a primary caregiver became real for me 1965, when I was 19 years of age. The circumstance, my 18-year-old bride was diagnosed with cancer.
Since then, I have had many more experiences not only as a primary caregiver but being a psychologist, as a witness to the caregiving experience.
As such, I offer here three little known resources I’ve learned along the way to make the journey a little more graceful.
1) Discover Source Energy.
Source Energy refers to the life force emanating through all things. Every one of us is a manifestation of this energy. We can best discover and expand access to Source through body-grounding techniques such as meditation or yoga.
Those without other mindfulness practices can also accomplish body grounding in a few minutes.
First, find a private space. Then sit or lay down, with the intention of attaining an expanded awareness of Source Energy. Close your eyes to avoid visual distraction. Bring the focus of your attention to the back part of your body. Notice “the felt sense” of places where you more strongly feel the connection between your body and the chair or floor.
Bring attention to the soles of your feet. Notice any sensations of contact between your feet and the floor. Notice gravity. If you find your mind coming in with chatter (or “head noise”) respectfully set this interruption aside, asking it to allow your return to the body, knowing that you are larger than your mind. You may have to do this several times until your mind gets used to it and buys-in to the process.
Then after a few minutes, shift awareness to your natural breathing. Observe the in and out of it. Notice that it takes no conscious effort: it knows how to breathe itself. Let each breath be the perfect one in this moment. You may want to place your hands over your heart. Begin to notice an amplification of a sense of inner strength and mild elation.
Next, as you allow yourself to notice the body grounded and breathing, invite your wondrous imagination to surface a meaningful moment in your life, one of those experiences when life felt good and right, or a time when you felt love or when you were giving love. When the image arises, allow it time to develop in your mind’s eye.
You should begin to notice the physical surroundings of that meaningful moment—smells, colors, textures of light, breezes, etc. You are inviting memories living in your body to make connection with that image in your mind’s eye.
At this point bring the focus of attention to your whole being in this moment. Generally you will notice a calm openness that is full-bodied. You have found yourself momentarily grounded in the full experience of Source Energy. Hang out there a bit. Our body tends to grow toward what feels good, so let it just be for a while. Allow your body and bones welcome and even celebrate this moment.
Every time you repeat this exercise you will notice a faster, more direct route to Source with its openness, calm and heightened awareness of who you are beyond your physical identity. The more you do this, the more accessible Source will be. You will soon find yourself able to consciously come to your caregiving experiences from this way of being.
You may be surprised at how this mysteriously occurs. The liberating sense of Source Energy is truly larger than your ego, physical identity, and painful attachments.
2) Drop Conditioned Thinking
Your enhanced access to Source will allow you to let go of conditioned thinking—all the “should” and “should-nots” to which your mind has been exposed, the endless internal conflicts that drain one in caregiving. By coming more and more from Source Energy you will discover an ability to transcend previous conditioning (often outdated, or just wrong for current situation) and discover a fresh, new intelligence fed to you by that Energy.
Such in-the-moment guidance can never lead you astray because it encompasses everything beyond the mind’s individual conditioning. The more you trust it, the sooner it will be at your disposal. The exhausting inner conflict will dissolve. You will know what to do, and when, with certainty and a grounded, clear sense of purpose.
3) Create Space from Source Energy.
After repeating your conscious, intended exercises to invoke Source Energy in this way, you will notice an enhanced ability to let positive patterns come forth, and to drop draining entanglements within yourself and with those you care for.
Once you experience the spacious world we actually inhabit you can then become a “space-giver.” When you are able to give space to your ailing loved one you enter a subtle and more expansive time of “being together.”
No longer responsible for your loved one’s life, you surrender that burden, instead of consenting to a new role as space-giver. No rights, no wrongs, just being“in-the-moment” with the one who needs you, with whatever surfaces in that time/space.
The relationship’s dynamics will be transformed. With each encounter thereafter a grace and lightness will enter the room. In such space-giver mode, the notion of time collapses, allowing perception of deep imagery. This is often a time when mysterious healing moments occur.
Michael Picucci, PhD, MAC, SEP has a private practice (in NYC or by Skype) for individuals, and couples experiencing care giving and/or end-of- life challenges. Dr. Picucci also provides a unique healing methodology for all types of human struggles and stuck-ness. He’s been internationally recognized and has authored five books on healing and writes many articles from his experience and observations. See more at: www.michaelpicucci.com