Another Tool in the Toolbox

We talk a lot about caregivers and how to help them. Sometimes the best support for caregivers is to give them a few tools to better support the patient.  Meditation is more than a tool of self-care.  In the context of caregiving, it can make a huge difference for the patient.  

There is a lot of coverage in the news about the benefits of meditation and how it can be life changing. For me, it was truly transformative.

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A few years ago I had to have several abdominal surgeries.  I didn’t have a choice and it needed to be done to alleviate my pain, but I knew there would be significant post-surgical pain and discomfort, which increased my anxiety in the weeks leading up to the surgery.  A friend recommended trying a meditation program designed to decrease anxiety around impending surgery and reduce post-operative pain and complications. I was skeptical but figured I had nothing to lose and I started listening to the meditation morning and night.  I started sleeping better, drifting off to sleep while it was playing rather than worrying, but other than that I didn’t notice much difference. 

My surgeon was open to me listening to the meditation during surgery. It turns out several double-blind studies had been conducted at Harvard teaching facilities showing improved outcomes for patients who used similar meditation programs.  As a result, surgeons at Mass General Hospital and The Brigham and Women’s Hospital now encourage their patients to embrace meditation.  After my surgery I required significantly less pain control than expected and recovered more quickly – the surgical team recognized it.  

When I started researching this blog, I was surprised to discover how many cancer centers, senior community centers and memory support centers offer various forms of meditation. Dance and movement therapies are a form of meditation, music is a form of meditation; what they all have in common is a reduction in stress and a resulting improvement in immune system function. 

Although we all know of the benefits possible with meditation, for me, the key was that it was easy, accessible, enjoyable and subsequently improved my health. What a powerful tool to offer the loved ones we care for as well as ourselves.

Breathe,

Guest Blogger, Donna

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.” –Buddha