Lessons Learned from Meditating and a Purple Plant
There is this purple plant on my living room window sill. My cousin gave her to me. She's her grandfather's daughter, specifically with her green thumb. The only person I've ever seen so happy to be among her flowers is our Poppop.
Meditation and brain health
I've recently rearranged my living room and now, my meditation pillow, which I'm trying to do more of, faces this goddess of a plant in all her glory. Meditation, they say, improves brain plasticity. If you put "improve" and "brain" in the same sentence, you've got my attention. I run, not walk, toward anything that could keep my internal computer functioning for as long as possible, as any descendent of someone who has had Alzheimer's would.
Finding time for daily meditation
And so, I meditate. I call out to my digital assistant, Alexa, via my Echo Dot and ask her to open Daily Mediation, the skill I've enabled to keep my brain functioning for as long as possible. Alexa even asks me, at my prompting of course, to open the app and take a few minutes for meditation once a day. She says it out of the blue as I'm going about my day, as though I may be the assistant here and not the other way around. She has a little beep and then comes over the speaker to say "breathe in, breathe out, it's time for your daily meditation."
I usually shrug my shoulders and say, "alright," pull myself away from whatever task has to be accomplished at that moment, take a deep breath and sit cross-legged on my meditation pillow looking right at the goddess plant. Although you're not really looking when you're beginning to meditate, you're listening to the speaker to tell you to visualize your breath going into your throat and out to all its necessary organs, trying to put your sit bones on the ground, straighten up your posture and clear your mind for a few moments. There's no real seeing in that time frame.
Clearing the mind, finding the calm
After a breath or two and far too long fidgeting on my pillow, I focus on my breath, passively listening to the sounds around me, my fan, my air conditioner, my neighbor leaving the apartment, and visualize the scene of Cinderella — old school Disney version — when she's singing and scrubbing the floors of a great hall. I put my thoughts in the bubbles that are the byproduct of Cinderella's elbow grease and I pop them as I think them, clearing my brain for the good brain health focus/out of body experience/inner calm.
The fundraiser I want to start; my sister's birthday present; a new story I want to write; whether or not I paid the parking ticket I got on vacation in New Jersey, all bubble up and meet their fate on the Sleeping Beauty-worthy spindle needle that eviscerates them. After a few minutes, I find the calm, but I get excited that I found the calm and so now I'm thinking things again and we start the process over again.
Finding beauty in being present
And just as I think I've got it without the excitement of getting it, the voice coming from Alexa says, "as you're ready, slowly begin to bring awareness back into the body," and the moment passes. I start wiggling my toes and my fingers, maybe I'll throw in a neck roll to the right and to the left. Keeping my eyes shut I say "goodbye" to the peace with one long inhale, held at the top, like a promise to return, and exhale back into the me who fills my days.
Then, in that moment, I see the Goddess Plant. Her deep purple hue demanding the respect of royalty, her long arms reaching out, demanding to take up the space she requires, taking the oxygen that she needs from the atmosphere and spreading her leaves like a welcome into her kingdom. I take an extra minute to thank the divine for the beauty presented in my life, and I resume my day.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?