By: Elaine Douglas

In last month’s Care Partner Corner, Ashley Perera wrote about the importance of continuing the relationship with the person who has MSA. Ashley also recommended mindfulness. So, let’s dig a little deeper.

At the core of both suggestions is “being present.”

With all the intense and practical aspects of caring for another, this sounds too simple. Miniscule really. But being truly present is quite powerful and can become the foundation of our ability to be loving and effective care partners.

 

Being Present with Our Loved One

Being present is more than being in the house, even being in the room, with another. It’s more than all the tasks we do. It means being actively engaged with the other. Dedicating time to sit together and let go of everything else.

Here are some things we can do:

  • Carve out one-on-one time
  • Communicate
  • Make eye contact
  • Stop and listen

 

Listening

We think we listen, but do we? I’m a problem solver and a worrier. But when I hear the other person without trying to fix things and without stressing out about potential future problems, I’m a better listener.

As care partners, we can show interest by asking questions and reflecting what we hear without judgement. And we can have empathy without giving advice.

We can simply be present.

 

Being Present with Ourselves

But here’s the thing…we have a better chance of being fully present with others when we can be present with ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in.

The Mayo Clinic offers these simple ways to practice mindfulness:

  • Pay attention.
  • Live in the moment.
  • Accept yourself.
  • Focus on your breathing.

Meditation is a great way to be more mindful. Meditation can be as simple as finding 20 minutes each day to go inward. Even 5-minute intentional pauses can help tremendously.

A few tips:

  • Breathe: Inhale deeply for three seconds and slowly exhale for three seconds. Just that.
  • Calm and other apps: There are many resources for guided meditations. They’re timed and talk you into reflection.
  • Walking meditation: Walking is a great way to stay present. You can walk inside or out; the key is maintaining awareness of your sensations.

Presence is a gift. Why not open it?

 

Additional resources: