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Mind, body and soul in balance

Meditation and how it can increase our resilience.

What is resilience and how can we increase our own capacity to be resilient.

Being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or distress.

People who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives commonly experience emotional pain and stress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

Being resilient means:

Being able to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.

Something that can help us all as we come out of this period of lockdown and return to “Covid” normal is the practice of self-care- meditation.

The True Definition and Benefits of Meditation

Meditation, defined simply, means “extended thought.” It’s a practice of focusing your mind on the present moment in order to gain a clearer and calmer mental and emotional state. For some people, this means spending an hour on a cushion in complete and utter silence. For the Support Worker of a client with special needs, it could mean just 5 minutes of quiet time, or listening to a guided meditation on a blanket or yoga mat in the living room. The idea is to carve out some time without distractions to focus on something relaxing. You can do this with or without your client/ Client, although both of you can definitely benefit. Research has shown that even brief amounts of time spent on meditation can reduce stress, lift mood, relieve anxiety, reduce hyperactivity, improve attention and focus, and strengthen relationships. With so much potentially to gain, there is really nothing to lose!

Will your client wiggle the first few rounds? Will the dog bark just when the CD gets started? Will your neighbour choose that exact moment to knock on your door to remind you of the association bake sale happening two weeks from Saturday? Of course! That’s why you need to set realistic expectations for your session. Here how:

Realistic Expectations for Parent/Client Mediation

1. Talk to Your Client Advance: Tell your client, in advance, that meditation is something you are going to do as part of your weekly routine. Just like he or she eats good food and takes vitamins for a strong body, meditation is something that they need to do for a strong mind, body and soul.

2. Find a Quiet Spot: It can seem impossible to find a quiet spot but remember – you’re not aiming for perfection. Perhaps your bedroom, with the door shut, is the best place to avoid distraction. Maybe it’s his or her bedroom? Maybe it’s in the car under a shady tree where that dog or pesky neighbour can’t find you. The point is to find someplace where you’re least likely to be disturbed and go for it.

3. Find a Guided Meditation: Google “mindfulness audio” and you’ll have more than your share of options to choose from. We suggest you keep it simple and find one specifically geared for the age/developmental level of your client. Those that tell stories or describe nature in vivid detail are often big hits with kids, as it sets their imaginations soaring down a fun, narrative story. Teens tend to prefer more realistic visualization exercises with relaxing music. Stress-Free Kids is a great resource for many different activities and audios. I also highly recommend the meditation app Calm.

4. Use Essential Oil: When diffused, essential oil can add a lovely fragrance to the room. The comforting scent not only will become a familiar reminder for your client that, “Now it’s time to quiet down,” certain essential oils actually can calm your client down. Lavender, bergamot, orange, and vetiver are oils known for their soothing effect on the nervous system.

5. Keep Your Expectations Low: Expect some bumps on your way to nirvana. The goal isn’t to meditate perfectly. There’s no such thing! The goal is to take time out of your day and just “be” with your client in a calming and positive way. While silence and total relaxation would be awesome, not losing your cool over unrealistic expectations is pretty darn awesome, too.

6. Keep Your Perspective on Track: following on tip #5, remember that meditation is about stressing less. Don’t put more stress on yourself and your client by having an end goal in mind. Use this time as an opportunity to bond with your client and see what comes from the experience. Many support workers find that just 5-15 minutes a day increases their level of patience, understanding and overall gratitude for their client (yes, even their difficult people!).

Start with just 5 minutes a day of quiet sitting, with or without a guided meditation audio or relaxing music. Work up to 15 minutes several times a week, in whatever way works best for you and your client, and see what benefits you notice

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