Your Own Well-being: Chants for Caregivers
Numerous studies have demonstrated that meditation and chanting improve one’s health. Sounds—especially repetitive ones—can reduce your blood pressure, control your heart rate and help you tolerate pain. The power of mantras is in mind over matter. Chanting has been used to treat everything from trauma to insomnia. It can also help you find inner wisdom. If there’s one thing every caregiver can use more of, it’s inner wisdom.
Proper chanting requires that you breathe deeply to help get rid of the emotional toxins inside you. You also need to choose a powerful mantra (a word or short phrase) that is appropriate to the cause at hand. The most effective chants employ long vowel sounds. Finally, you need to repeat that mantra over and over—perhaps as many as 50 times. The goal is to set up a profound vibration in your energy core.
Gregorian Chants and the Hindu OM are the most common examples of ritualistic chanting. Today you will learn a series of chants created especially for caregivers. They address a range of issues that should be familiar to you. Be sure to use the right mantra for your specific goal, whether it’s purging a toxin from your emotional psyche or finding the path to caregiving enlightenment.
For worries about Long Term Care payments being reduced or running out altogether:
Place yourself in a comfortable position, hands folded across your chest. Inhale deeply. Begin chanting: “Lock Box. Lock Box.” Be sure to draw out the “o” sounds. Visualize the lock box. Mentally check the latch to make sure it is locked. Continue chanting until your pulse slows to a relaxed rate.
For concerns about Medicare prescription drug costs:
Place yourself in a seated position, arms above your head, with palms touching. Inhale deeply. Begin chanting: “Donut Hole. Donut Hole.” Once again, be sure to draw out the “o” sounds. Visualize an enormous donut; focus on the hole. Now fill it with an equally enormous Munchkin. Continue chanting until the Munchkin has totally plugged the hole in the center of the donut.
For severe joint pain, especially due to pushing your loved one’s wheelchair:
Lie flat on your back, arms at your side. Inhale deeply. Begin chanting: “Glu-co-sa-mine. Glu-co-sa-mine.” Pronounce each syllable as though it is a separate word. Visualize a cold compress being applied to the primary site of your pain. Continue this mantra for 25 repetitions. Then switch to the mantra “Cap-sa-i-cin. Cap-sa-i-cin” for 25 repetitions. Visualize a hot compress being applied to the primary site of your pain. Alternate these two mantras until both compresses reach room temperature.
For help finding your true late-life (post caregiving) passion:
Stand with your back flat against the wall, arms at your side. Slowly slide your arms up to shoulder level, keeping them against the wall. Then slowly bring them across your body as if in a gentle embrace. Repeat this sequence as you chant: “Focus. Focus.” Systematically review every happy event in your life, beginning as early as you can remember. Those that seem most in focus will provide clues to your passion. If nothing comes into focus, you may want to have your eyes checked.
For insomnia at night, leading to the need to nap during the day:
Lie on your back in bed at night and elevate your head with a fluffy pillow. The success of this chant lies in the tension between the mantra itself and the imagery used. Visualize a large cup of coffee—big enough to keep you awake through a four-hour drive. The coffee is extremely hot and you are drinking it slowly. Begin chanting “Decaf. Decaf.” Continue for 50 repetitions or until you fall asleep, whichever comes first. Important! Be sure to go to the bathroom before you get into bed.
For chronic feelings of anxiety, especially about whether you could be doing more for your loved one, or whether your patience is running out:
Take whatever position you want to; you’re going to be uncomfortable in it regardless. Close your eyes tightly. Picture something specific that makes you feel anxious. Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly. Repeat this breathing pattern. Each time that you exhale, chant your anxiety mantra. For Jewish readers, your mantra is: “Oy Vey.” For Catholic readers, your mantra is “Mama Mia.” For all other readers, your mantra is: “As If.” If your chanting isn’t relieving your anxiety, try one of the mantras for another faith. You do not need to convert to do this.
As we become aware of additional mantras that are especially appropriate for caregivers, we’ll pass them along. In the meantime, we hope you’ll make meditative chanting part of your daily routine. Along with a nice glass of wine, of course.
(This guest post by Elaine M. Decker, social artist and columnist, originally appeared on the Caregiver Partnership blog.)
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.