meditation benefits neurological disorders: patients AND caregivers

There is growing evidence that even brief (5 days −8 weeks) meditation programs may improve neuropsychological, metabolic, and clinical profiles in a range of populations. Studies show meditation reduces stress [26, 30, 33], anxiety [28, 31, 33], and depressive symptoms [33–35], enhance quality of life [30, 34], decrease sleep disturbance [32], cognition [35], reduce sympathetic activation, and enhance cardiovagal tone [27, 36].

(futurity.org)

(futurity.org)

Most recently, 10 people with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and their live-in caregivers meditated for 11 minutes, twice daily for 8 weeks. Results of this study showed decreased perceived stress and depression. Also, improved mood, sleep, retrospective memory function, and blood pressure were demonstrated. This supports meditation programs as effective self-care strategies for BOTH persons with neurological disorders and their caregivers.

The benefits for sleep and mood are especially important, given the high prevalence and negative impact of chronic stress, sleep disturbance, and mood impairment in these populations. What I love best about this study is that is benefits BOTH patients and caregivers… and is something you can do TOGETHER. Strengthening not only self-care strategies, but also perhaps relationship quality and shared experiences.

See the original study here (Innes et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol 2012 (2012), Article ID 927509, 9 pages)

What are you waiting for? And for some tips on how to begin a meditation practice, check out this Tutorial: Meditation 101 (click on link). much love.

References:

26. R. Bonadonna, “Meditation’s impact on chronic illness,” Holistic Nursing Practice, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 309–319, 2003.

27. K. E. Innes, C. Bourguignon, and A. G. Taylor, “Risk indices associated with the insulin resistance syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and possible protection with yoga: a systematic review,” Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 491–519, 2005.

28. R. H. Schneider, K. G. Walton, J. W. Salerno, and S. I. Nidich, “Cardiovascular disease prevention and health promotion with the transcendental meditation program and Maharishi consciousness-based health care,” Ethnicity and Disease, vol. 16, no. 3, supplement 4, pp. 15–26, 2006.

30. T. K. Selfe and K. E. Innes, “Mind-body therapies and osteoarthritis of the knee,” Current Rheumatology Reviews, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 204–211, 2009.

31. L. C. Waelde, L. Thompson, and D. Gallagher-Thompson, “A pilot study of a yoga and meditation intervention for dementia caregiver stress,” Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 60, no. 6, pp. 677–687, 2004

32. L. E. Carlson and S. N. Garland, “Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients,” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 278–285, 2005.

33. J. D. Lane, J. E. Seskevich, and C. F. Pieper, “Brief meditation training can improve perceived stress and negative mood,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 38–44, 2007.

34. R. Jayadevappa, J. C. Johnson, B. S. Bloom et al., “Effectiveness of transcendental meditation on functional capacity and quality of life of African Americans with congestive heart failure: a randomized control study,” Ethnicity and Disease, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 72–77, 2007, erratum appears in Ethnicity and Disease vol. 17, no. 3, page 395.

35. V. K. Sharma, S. Das, S. Mondal, U. Goswami, and A. Gandhi, “Effect of Sahaj Yoga on neuro-cognitive functions in patients suffering from major depression,” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 375–383, 2006.

36. J. P. Manikonda, S. Störk, S. Tögel et al., “Contemplative meditation reduces ambulatory blood pressure and stress-induced hypertension: a randomized pilot trial,” Journal of Human Hypertension, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 138–140, 2008.

living your yoga with Parkinson’s disease

I had an inspiring experience June 4-9 at a Wellness Retreat for People with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners at the Kripalu Centre for Yoga & Health, located in the beautiful Berkshires, Massachusetts.

the Kripalu view

A couple years ago, I did my Yoga Teacher Training through a Kripalu affiliate studio in Kelowna BC (http://www.trinityyogacenter.com/), so it felt almost like a homecoming for me to be at the Kripalu Centre.

I was at Kripalu to help with a retreat for People with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners. We had 57 people registered for the week! We participated in lectures held by physicians, yogis, nutritionists, nurses etc. There were also some great in-depth discussion groups, a delicious cooking-demo. Finally we had lots of opportunity to be in our bodies with yoga, tai chi and dance classes! It was a jam packed week!

Here are some things that I want to share as “take home messages” from the week…

1. lean into JOY! make decisions in order to increase the amount of joy in your life.

2. be RESILIENT. resilient people know that have control over themselves in the present moment. However, everyone needs a “choir” full of people to truly be there for you (like a circle of support). Who is in that choir for you?

3.conscious COMMUNICATION. speak and be heard, mindfully; but mostly, lean into listening. have intentional conversations.

4. caregivers should think of themselves as a SMALL BUSINESS. For example, caregivers need to have a board of directors (i.e., circle of support, choir), hold regular meetings, have a mission statement, take scheduled/regular time off to allow respite, recreation, and relaxation!

5. “what do you do to procrastinate?” honour those things that keep us back, acknowledge them, then move forward.

6. move from your CORE. whether it be your physical core (spine, abdominals), or emotional core (follow your heart!). this will keep you balanced (literally, between both feet) and help you lean into joy.

at the end of the week, participants chose ONE thing to bring home with them… “when I go home, I will…“. to sustain this change and those experienced during the week, we were encouraged to:

a) be AUTHENTIC (i.e., change needs to be true to you)

b) give yourself permission to be FULLY HUMAN (i.e. ups and downs, have self-compassion)

c) take it ONE STEP AT A TIME (i.e. doing and integrating one thing opens yourself up to other positive changes)

d) start IMMEDIATELY (i.e integrate the change right away!)

e) take it ONE DAY AT A TIME (*remember; resilient people are in control of themselves in the PRESENT moment).

Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

If you are interested in being involved in the next session you can find out more information here: http://kripalu.org/healthy_living/806/… hope to see you there!

 I’m so grateful to the National Parkinson Foundation, Kripalu, and the amazing participants for being involved in this inspiring week, uniting movement-mind-breath for wellness in persons living with Parkinson’s disease.

jai bhagwan, namaste.

self-care

The Parkinson Society British Columbia (website here) has a much needed initiative this year to support workshops for caregivers of persons with Parkinson’s disease,

Time Out for Caregivers.

Lonnie Ali caring for her husband, Muhammad, who has Parkinson’s disease

I was asked to be the keynote speaker at their second workshop in Kelowna on May 26th and was so honored to be able to share the afternoon with these amazing men and women.

I was able to relay to the participants about the importance of their health and how there are buffers that reduce caregiver burden, especially :

  1. being prepared to be a caregiver
  2. fully accepting and finding meaning in the caregiver role, and
  3. establishing a quality relationship with the person you are caring for
The main cause of PD caregivers burden is not always the physical tasks they have to do, for example helping a person in and out of bed, feeding, more household chores, etc., but the mental worry… about safety of their spouse or if they have to make big decisions alone, like when to sell the house and/or move into assisted living, legal powers of attorney, etc.

when your direction in life changes… http://www.cartoonstock.com

Some of the information I hoped to convey was that caregivers need to care for themselves!
  • Don’t suffer and try to set boundaries, if there’s a task that’s too much or something you don’t want to do – ask for help! find support! If you need some “me-time” or “me-space” create that. Be assertive! This may involve finding your voice or an advocate.
  • Don’t give up on activities you like to do! Modify so you can still keep active and interested in life together… remember the disease doesn’t define you!
  • Sustain yourself… caregivers are like lifesaving equipment, you don’t want to burn out. It’s like when you’re on an airplane and you are support to put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping others.

  • find someone that can cheer you on and lift your spirits… and don’t forget to celebrate all the small joys. The facilitator for the Kelowna Parkinson’s support group tells everyone to write down THREE things you are grateful for everyday. Doesn’t matter if they are big, small or inbetween! Then, at the end of one year you will have over ONE THOUSAND things to be grateful for… pretty amazing, eh?

check out this novel that chronicles gratitude by Ann Voskamp

I understand this is easier said then done, but getting caregivers to focus on self-care is a great start! I am so grateful for the participants who attended the workshop and to the Parkinson’s Society for starting this initiative, you can contact them at: info@parkinson.bc.ca for further information. A copy of my presentation slides are available by clicking here… please share!


and this is not only applicable to PD caregivers, but everyone…when was the last time you checked in with yourself to see how you were really doing? much love.