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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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How to Get Great Mindfulness Help for Anxiety with Change

Summer is coming to a close. Families are gearing up for the new school year, which includes every stage from preparing little ones for kindergarten to launching older kids off to college. Even if there are no longer kids in the picture that you need to help, this part of the summer season is often a transition time. We can feel the days shortening and the temperatures getting slightly cooler, especially in the northeast where I live. Here’s the thing. When we are in the midst of change and transition, we can often feel anxious about the past and some trepidation about the future. That’s normal.

Practicing mindfulness both formally through meditation and informally by allowing ourselves to focus on the present can be huge in helping us to navigate transitions with less stress and more enjoyment.

As you may know, I’ve been exploring mindfulness beyond my customary way of being to include daily mindfulness meditation, journaling, reading, and formal learning. I’m grateful for the wonderful teachers and guides I’ve had so far that include Laurence Magro, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Amy Reyer, Ellen Langer, Tara Bennett-Goleman and Daniel Goleman. I’m so thankful for finding them at this juncture in my life.

Just the other day, I had one of those ah-ha moments. There’s another mindfulness teacher who has been helping me my entire life, but especially these past few years. It's my mom. She has vascular dementia. At this point, her memory of the past is fairly compromised. The future is no longer a real concept because her short-term memory has also been affected. She lives very much in the present. She finds joy in the present through playing piano, listening to music, singing, dancing, having conversations, being with people who care about her, exploring the garden, holding hands, enjoying a beautiful day, or being playful. When I’m with her, I enter her world wherever she is and we experience each moment for all that it is. She’s helped me to appreciate the now even more, to savor these precious moments with her. I slow myself down so that I can be here now.

These past few weeks I’ve missed being with you as I’ve been involved with family that needed my time and attention. I’m so happy to be back. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Come join the conversation! What discoveries have you made from those that help or guide you?





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Reader Comments (16)

Been thinking about you and wondering how things were going, Linda. Sending you love as you navigate whatever life has been bringing you! My younger daughter works with dementia patients periodically, and she would share similar thoughts. I love your phrase, "entering her world." None of us knows what tomorrow will bring (even though we live as if we do.) Taking time to live fully in the moment we've been given can be like increasing the saturation on a photo. Everything can be experienced at a deeper level. I'm learning from you, and hoping to spend more time in the now and less time worrying about what could be.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I've missed our conversations and connection. It's so nice to be back. This has been an unusual time. How wonderful that your daughter works with people with dementia. It's a fascinating world. As there are so many types of dementia and as it manifests itself in a multitude of ways, I'm learning a lot during this time. I love your analogy that living in the moment is like increased "saturation on a photo." it does allow us to experience things more deeply because we are present for all that each moment has available to us. So happy to "see" you again, my friend. Thank you for stopping by to share.

August 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It sounds like you made a sad situation into a beautiful one. From personal experience taking care of my dad, staying in the moment and enjoying it really helped me stay out of the sadness. And, when he passed, I was so grateful to be a part of his process of leaving this planet. Mindfulness helps you not feel regretful of anything. It's the way to go to lighten up our lives.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I've missed our conversations, Linda. I'm so happy to see you back. I'm working to spend more time in now and less in wondering about what could have be if only ... I am currently working with a client who is 94 years young. I have helped her to put together a family history to share with her children and their families. Sometimes she is all there and knows exactly what's going on and sometimes she's a bit confused. No matter where she is, I meet her there. Her family paid me the greatest compliment when they told me that their mother loves it when I visit her - it makes her happy! Isn't that what it's all about - finding and sharing those moments of happiness.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

Relaxing into the moment with parents who suffer confusion and dementia can be difficult. Sometimes you want to try and fix it. Accepting change and transitioning to a new relationship allows moments to be enjoyed by everyone. Linda I'm glad you are taking care of yourself too.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Stobbe

Thank you for sharing your journey! These are happy, positive energies that serve you and us well as we will all be navigating changes in our families. Your inspiring us all.

Mindfulness has been on our culture's mind too. It's becoming a common conversation with my clients because of the stresses of our days and our need to lessen anxiety. Sharing ways you are incorporating this has been powerful.

Thinking of you!

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

I offered to bring a veggie tray to my last book club meeting. My friend who was hosting thanked me for making it, and I told her how much I enjoy cutting up vegetables. Her reply made me realize that it is a mindful activity for me, as I take in the colors, shapes and scents of the various items. I never thought of it that way until my friend commented on it.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Thank you for this post, Linda. It's beautiful how you're enjoying your mother's company.
It helps to see how others are dealing with transitions and how I can use these practices to make the ones my family and I are going through more smoothly.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

It's nice to "see" you again in the blogosphere, Linda! Though I have to admit I follow you on Instagram and the beautiful photos you share of your family and nature make me smile everytime and help me feel connected. Sending love and positive vibes to you and your mom. Spending these last few weeks with my 5yo before he heads back to school is helping me be more mindful. There's nothing like time with a child to get you to hit the pause button and cherish the now!

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

My heart is full that you are all here. How wonderful to "hear" your voices!

@Sabrina- My heart goes out to you about your dad's passing. How lucky he was that you were able to care for him and be with him during that stage. Being in the moment, being aware of all there is to be grateful for, and practicing mindfulness are true gifts. Thank you for sharing with us.

@Diane- Me too. So nice to "hear" you again. How beautiful the way you're helping your client share her family history, give her your full attention, and meet her where she is. That's a huge gift and she's so lucky to have you with her. Those "if onlys" can be challenging. Great that you're working on letting some of those go.

@Julie- I keep a card on my desk that has helped me be there for mom during this time. It says, "Creativity, flexibility, dignity, and love." These are the words that guide my interactions with and decisions for her. Acceptance is another great word that you offered up. Thank you for that one.

@Ellen- Thank you. Mindfulness is definitely a trend and buzzword. I see it attached to so many things...even ones you wouldn't expect. But the truth is, be it trendy or not, there are deep benefits of practicing it. I continue to learn each day and am enjoying sharing some of that learning with others.

@Janet- Way to go! Isn't it amazing how we can find mindful moments in so many ways? Allowing ourselves to be fully present so that we can experience the sounds, scents, textures, and colors around us is one of life's gifts. I bet your veggie tray was wonderful. Yum!!

@Helena- I'm so glad to know that you found something here that might be helpful for the transitions your family is going through. That makes me smile. Wishing you all the best as you navigate uncharted territory.

@Sarah- Awwww. I'm glad that you've been enjoying my Instagram feed...and that it helps to keep our connection. I so appreciate the love and good energy that you've sent. I'm soaking it all in. How beautiful that you're able to push that pause button to be present for your Kindergartener-to-be. What precious time this is and one of big change. I love the words you chose to describe this..."cherish the now!" Just beautiful.

August 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Living in the present is something that I strive for. I appreciate that you have found a way to see the silver lining of your Mom's dementia.

August 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen DeGarmo

@Maureen- I understand how being "living in the present" can be challenging. It's so easy to think about or dwell on the past. And it's just as easy to be anxious about the future. Both are so normal and often our go to responses. There are times when I go there. But when I can be fully present and let go of the past and the future, I am more able to enjoy and/or face what is happening now. Kudos to you for striving. Thank you too for your positive thoughts about the silver lining and my Mom's dementia.

August 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Parents continue to teach us. Learning that with my dad. What gifts you have now. And you were open to receiving. Not everyone could do that.

August 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

@Linda- It's an interesting cycle of life, isn't it? When we're young, our parents are some of our greatest teachers and guides. When we become parents, it is our children that teach us. And now at this stage, the learning has opened up yet again learning both from my Mom and my adult kids. How lovely that you are open to the learning with from your dad. And as you said, such gifts.

August 22, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love my mom and she is my everything... I know how it feels like to have a single parent and I love her a lot. Even I want to give her everything like she did always... thanks for sharing your experience !! :-)

August 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShubham

@Shubham- How lovely that you are close to your mom too. She's lucky to have you.

August 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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