Burdens of the Caregiver
Is there a way to detach from emotional and physical (energy) draggings or burdens while taking care of a sick loved one?
Caring for loved ones can be very trying. We generally don't expect to become caregivers, and yet more and more people are finding themselves taking care of mom or dad, the grandchildren, or each other.
You have to ask the question, how did I get into this situation? And the answer, of course, is karma. Nothing comes our way that is not ours to deal with. It is a universal law.
Swami Kriyananda shares a story in the path where he and a brother disciple were just about to go to lunch when Paramhansa Yogananda asked if they would smooth out a mound of sand created when the swimming pool had been dug out. They were happy to do this for the Master.
But then he asked them to do another mound, and then another and another. At some point Swami saw that the Master was trying them to see if they would break in a positive way. Swami began to laugh and Yogananda said, "I was playing with you."
The test was this - could they put out more energy and not resist what life was presenting? Yes!
In the case of caring for loved ones, you have to realize that it is God through the loved one - testing you, strengthening and guiding you towards Self realization. When we are able to depersonalize these situations and see that it is for our own education and entertainment, then things go much easier.
Finally, it is important for the caregiver to take care of themselves. Caregiver burn-out is a real problem. A few statistics may help put things into perspective:
23 percent of family caregivers caring for loved ones for 5 years or more report their health is fair or poor.*
40 to 70 percent of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, and approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.**
Fortunately, the practicing yogi has meditation techniques and life style perspectives that support and rejuvenate the individual. These are even more important for the caregiver yogi.
*Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009.
**Zarit, S. (2006). Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective
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