There are many times during the day and night when I feel exhausted with the constant struggle to know how to deal with aspects of Maureen’s presentation. Listening to the teachings of Dekyong; particularly the one above always help my motivation to seek new ways to support my dear wife. I’m really grateful that we now have a carer on Wednesday evenings so that I can attend meditation classes in Grimsby. I am also about to book another few restorative days at Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre early in March.
The visualization of the sign at the entrance to Madhyamaka helps me to cope in the middle of the night when Maureen wakes up distressed wanting her mum.
As you will see from the photo above grugging – group hugging – is once again firmly established as an ongoing Retreat at Madhyamaka. I encouraged Gen Togden, the Resident Teacher here, to demonstrate the technique after lunch yesterday. Shortly afterwards, in their farewell to Jo (3rd left back row), Working Volunteers demonstrated that they understood the practice.
Grugging is being taken to York tonight. It will be on in various venues as the Volunteers celebrate the forthcoming birthday of one of their number (far right, front row). As an experienced grugger I have been asked to go along to ensure there is no straying from the path!
Togden’s teaching below has great relevance to me this morning as my Retreat draws to a close:
I had a really good day yesterday. Taking Precepts at 7am. was a really helpful start to my day. The teaching on my Retreat continues to be excellent; provoking me to think about how to move my mind in a positive direction.
Every time I come here I benefit from the warmth of my fellow travellers. At 10 ‘o’ clock last night a woman I hardly knew was willingly giving me advice on how to improve this Site. I’m not sure if she will have time before her departure this morning to see the results of her advice.
It is always reassuring to hear that your wife is ‘settled’ during a Respite Break. That was the news when I made telephone contact with Alderlea Care Home last night: a member of staff assured me that she was ‘doing brilliant’. I just hope that Maureen’s thinking has shifted from feeling that she is an ‘invalid’. I would hate her to think that is why her husband has left her in the care of others for a while.
Once day breaks I will be able to eat again, after not having any food since yesterday lunch-time: the one meal you are allowed after taking Precepts. It’s good to have a day when food does not take up so much of your time. Although I won’t be wasting any opportunity to consume my share of the beautiful food that will be available here today! The other thing I will focus on today is to watch my mind and what I say: drawing on the guidance I’m getting on my Retreat.
I have decided not to set up a new page and will post news of my Retreat here:
Yesterday morning Gen Togden the Resident Teacher at Madhyamaka greeted me with ‘welcome back’.
We snatched a brief hug as we went our separate ways: he is teaching on another Retreat. Togden is always willing to hug and introduced me to ‘grugging’ on my last visit: a group hug.
Most of the time there are only two of us on ‘How To Transform Your Life’. Working visitors join us in the evening when they are free from their voluntary duties. As always they are young, enthusiastic and from all over the world.
One of the purposes of a Retreat is to rest and I’m certainly doing that; frequently dropping off when I’m trying to meditate. There are another four teaching sessions today and I’m also going to take Precepts at 7 am. This will be a new experience for me and I’m looking forward to a day of moral discipline and watching my mind. However, I’m sure ‘grugging’ is not out of the question for the initiated!
I eventually let my head rule my heart yesterday morning. Once again our Key Worker kept me on the straight and narrow and eased Maureen into Alderlea Care Home. He remains the only professional who Maureen remembers and trusts! Now I’m on my Buddhist Retreat I am grateful for his wise counsel.
I attended the introduction to my Retreat last night and I’m really looking forward to the next few days. There are four teachings every day and we are encouraged to observe silence until late evening. Madhyamaka is such a peaceful place: its impact on me is always significant.
I hope to find time to set up another page on this Blog so that I can share what I am learning from my Retreat.
Today’s Buddhist teaching is once again from Dekyong :
As well as trying to deal with my mind I’m also taking steps to resolve issues with my body. My physiotherapist has now prescribed a series of exercises to address restricted movement in my shoulders and legs.
There is little doubt that bilateral hip replacement has reduced the chronic pain that I used to experience. What I hadn’t understood is that is new hip joints are not the end of the story. If I want to make the best of the Surgeon’s work I need to exercise to maintain muscle mass and flexibility.
My shoulder problems are explained by physiotherapists as ‘white hair rotator tear’. Unfortunately, I have the credentials on both fronts and an operation for someone of my age is not guaranteed to work.
Buddhist assert they are not their body: little consolation when pain is keeping you awake at night. When I was last at Madhyamaka my good friend Kelsang Dorde
taught me a simple breathing meditation that helps me get back to sleep when I’m woken in the early hours – yet another ‘no-brainer’ from the man!
One of my mistakes during 2017 was not taking my time off. There were many occasions when I chose to stay around during Carer Sits: especially when our Sun Room was being built. I made a similar mistake on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when I thought it would be better to have the day to ourselves: what a bloomer!
Yesterday carers were here from 10am until 4pm and I took full advantage of their presence. Maureen has no concept of time and didn’t appear to notice any difference.
When I met our Key Worker yesterday I asked him to build one six-hour sit into our Support Package. This arrangement will be on Mondays from now on – subject to the availability of staff. A six-hour break will mean that I can have a relaxing time, rather than rushing around to make sure you I’m back to relieve carers. I have also asked him to put an additional Carer Sit in place on Wednesday evening so I can attend local Buddhist Meditation Classes.
A week on Monday Maureen will go into Alderlea Care Home for two weeks. Now I have ‘sussed’ the place out I will not visit during that time and take a complete break from my caring role. I have already arranged a Buddhist Retreat for the first week and will catch up with family and friends later on.
It has taken me quite some time to accept that Carer Sits are my time. and from now on I’m out the door almost as soon as they arrive. This is my plan on Sunday and I will not be here to see visiting family members until our carer goes at the end of her shift.
I have edited my About page to reflect my mission to share positives on this Blog from now on. Every day, Maureen amazes me with her intellect and how she attempts to deal with the consequences of severe dementia. One of our mantras has always been to accentuate the positives. Why change habits of a lifetime just because dementia is in our lives?
HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE – A BLISSFUL JOURNEY
BY VENERABLE GESHE KELSANG GYATSO
In the introduction to How to Transform Your Life, the author, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, says:
‘Through practising the instructions presented in this book we can transform our life from a state of misery into one of pure and everlasting happiness.’
I have downloaded the free EBook and signed up for the retreat at the Buddhist Centre in Pocklington in two weeks time.
Yesterday I mentioned how increased carer support can transform our lives. Today I’m hoping to transform my approach to the unknown. Six family members will be arriving shortly: rather than focus on the prospect of overstimulation for Maureen I’m going to welcome our visitors with open arms. I’m hoping to catch many of today’s ‘Magic Moments’ on camera. Maureen is often fixated on: ‘nobody likes me’ and photographic reminders of the love of her family might just transform her thinking on that front!
I hope between us we transform the approach to dementia in 2018. Happy New Year.
Today’s Buddhist teaching is once again from Gen Togden:
Togden is an inspirational teacher as are so many of his colleagues at the Buddhist Centre in Pocklington. He says his ‘inner peace is non-negotiable’ and that must be a wonderful place to be!
I have decided to stay in Coventry for a while longer. Once the roads are a little safer to drive on I will venture out from the warmth of the Spa of my hotel. I am certain that the best Christmas present I can give my mum and brother is to spend further time with them today.
It is far too icy to take mum out but I’m sure once I call up her favourite music we will be ‘tripping the light fantastic’ once again. I haven’t decided what I’ll get up to with my brother apart from companionship, as he sits alone in his favourite spot in the Dining Room of his Nursing Home.
A text to my eldest daughter is all that will be needed for the evening’s food and entertainment. I’m sure she will provide a gastronomic delight and her girls will put on another show as they ask Alexa to support their activities.
Sending yourself to Coventry isn’t all bad if you know the right people!