The late Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto (Messages from Water and The Hidden Message in Water) demonstrated that words spoken to beakers filled with water, or that words written on pieces of paper that were taped to the beakers of water, “can alter the molecular structure and cause it to form into distinct shapes.”
The words – love, joy, peace and hope – produced beautiful snowflakes; but negative words such as hate, evil or despair caused the water to form distorted shapes.
I read about the water experiments a couple of years ago…it is something that Louise Hay talks about often in her books and on her website, and I am completely in awe of the power the tests reflect. Our words matter; our energy matters. When we absorb this information, we learn that we have the power in both our words and our actions to make a difference. Our thoughts truly can become things.
What happens when our good intentions go south? Our loved one who has a dementia-related disease is upset and/or angry and our visit isn’t going well. Unfortunately many visitors or caregivers are discouraged or worse, decide that they will either discontinue their visits or visit less often. I get that. It’s challenging to witness your loved one in an agitated state – it’s scary. There is no manual that comes with this diagnosis. (Your father has Alzheimer’s; maybe your mother does, too. Deal with it.) There is no manual, nor is there a set of rules of behaviour and management that is predictable and one size fits all.
Instead we must use our internal compass – sometimes we just have to follow our instincts. Or as I like to say, just follow our heart. Our hearts will guide us and steer us in the right direction. Because it is our hearts that will remind us what would someone who wants to bring loving energy into the relationship do?
When faced with a challenging circumstance with our loved one, instead of losing our cool and adding negative energy to the situation, why not try this: do nothing. Stay still and silent. Do nothing. Yes, you read that right – do nothing!
Go into a stillness that changes your energy and just breathe. Take a few deep breaths and exhale each breath slowly. Very slowly. Stop your mind from the internal chatter – stop the thoughts of fear (the words/thoughts that transform water into distorted shapes). When you can let go of your fear (which is negative energy), you will recognize that you are not adding to the tension in the situation.
Now that you are silent and still, you can switch your attention to your loved one’s energy. Focus on their energy and try to determine their (unspoken but palpable) needs and wants.
When we react negatively to a situation (especially when you have no idea what your loved one wants) our bodies and our emotions communicate our distress. Are we tense? Have we scrunched up our shoulders? Is a headache coming on? Is our lower back causing pain? Our emotions and our bodies are connected! We know that but we ignore that fact.
I am advocating that we begin to read our bodies and we begin to listen to them. We don’t need to be scientists to believe that the body/mind connection can transform our energy. And it is our energy that gives us power – power to transform our relationships with everybody. And that includes our loved one who has a dementia-related illness.
My friend whose husband has Alzheimer’s (and he is much younger than either of my parents) recently became very angry in a grocery store. My friend told me after the event that she was mortified, distressed, angry, humiliated…well, you get the picture. Those of us who have been in similar situations understand with a full heart!
But I have since learned from my own journey that we may not prevent a similar situation, but we can certainly transform our own personal energy so that we do not feed that negative energy. My friend cannot prevent her husband’s outbursts (we are not here as caregivers or loving family members to heal them), she can only learn to change her reaction to the outbursts. And she will (as I have had to learn) begin to understand that she is only in charge of herself. But that in transforming our own personal energy into a loving one, we can help transform our loved one’s energy. That is a powerful lesson.
When we become still and silent, we become aware of the moment…the Now. Practice letting go of the tension in your body. Become silent and still and allow your loved one his space. In this silence, we can find answers. And at the very least, our loved one feels validated; that he matters.
Think of this: what if your parent was ill from another disease (that was not one of dementia) and was yelling in pain? Wouldn’t you react with compassion? Yet I often see that when a person with a dementia yells, people become angry themselves. They become angry with the person as if they have forgotten that the person cannot control his actions or his words.
When we truly accept and understand the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any dementia-related disease and its effects on the person, we can begin to let go of fear. Instead of fear, let us breathe in…compassion.
Be grateful for every moment, the good and the not so good. Change your energy just by relaxing your body. Take a few deep breaths and become silent. When you do that – you are paying attention to the Now. Trust it. It is all that you have. And even that is enough.
When you practice this…you are transforming the moment – into peaceful energy and acceptance. Just like beautiful snowflakes. Your words and thoughts can do that. They matter.