Stan, Andy, and I have had a lot of stress for quite a while. Stan’s illness had us calling 911 in the middle of the night or driving him to the Emergency Room more times than we can count. On top of that he had several planned surgeries, so for many days Andy would do his homework while visiting Dad in the hospital.
Andy was visiting his grandparents in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and his grandpa was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night.
And then my diagnosis with ALS shook us to the core. Andy has had a lot of anger, which is understandable.
Twenty years ago I had the opportunity to mentor two foster teens. This was before Big Brothers Big Sisters came to Reno. One of the teens I mentored is Keia, who is now 37 and has just become a yoga instructor and has her own business here in Reno where she goes to her client’s residence for tailored yoga sessions focusing on breathing and guided meditation: holistichealthnv.com
I asked her about a family healing session and we were able to schedule that the first week of Andy’s spring break.
She had us do some basic stretching to start and then did a guided meditation for relaxation. And then she talked about using mindfulness to control anger. And showed Andy the Eagle yoga pose which is also great for dealing with anger.
The attitudes and intentions that are most important for mindfulness meditation include:
- Non-judging: observing what’s actually happening without adding emotions, fears or prejudices to it.
- Patience: understanding and accepting that sometimes things take more time than we’d like and must unfold in ways we can’t fully control
- Trust: trusting yourself, your basic wisdom and goodness, your feelings and “intuition,” and trusting the same in others
- Having a beginner’s mind: (open-mindedness): not letting what we think we already know affect us seeing things for what they are
- Acceptance: recognizing and allowing what’s happening first without trying to change it, giving us a clearer picture to work with when it comes time to act
- Non-striving: trying less and being more; allowing your experience to unfold without fighting against it or wishing it was different
- Letting go: recognizing that everything changes, being willing to let go of unpleasant and old beliefs, and also accepting that good things can’t necessarily last forever.
Keia came back that evening for dinner and we watched my favorite movie, and Andy’s too: Short Term 12, which is about foster kids.
This was a particularly good week to have some mindfulness training. We had 5 doctor’s appointments between the three of us, an interesting video conference for market research on packaging for a new ALS drug, as well as an ALS Support Group meeting on Thursday. And then on Friday we went away for a few days. We also fit in the Toytopia exhibit at Wilbur May Museum.
The exhibit also had classic video games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders. It was fun to share those with Andy.
At the ALS Support Group meeting on Thursday, we had visiting speakers from Vocasso to tell us about the wireless headsets they are building that will generate speech from electronic signals from the speech forming muscles. They wanted input from us on their product for ALS.
Deb showed off the car washing mitts she uses to cover the cold metal plates that her feet are on in her wheelchair. Brilliant idea!
Andy came along to this support group meeting, his first. He didn’t want to come, but he said it was fun. The two other ALS patients there had great stories and were funny. The guys from Vocasso were great too. We met them for dinner that night too.
And then went home to pack.
Stan and Andy will be participating in a Cornhole tournament in June in the Bay Area to raise money for Young Faces of ALS, a part of ALS TDI. I have several friends who were diagnosed here ALS at very young ages. Please consider a donation to research to end this awful disease, while supporting my boys in the Cornhole Tournament here: http://yfals.als.net/page.aspx?t=2413
Thank you for helping to wipe out ALS.