One of the biggest difficulties that healers, caregivers, and nurses alike have when it comes to offering their services, is keeping themselves in tip top physical and emotional shape. I’m not necessarily talking about the need to go to the gym and eat a healthy diet, although those things do help. Rather, the need that caregivers have to energetically protect and clean themselves so as not to absorb and take on the difficulties that their clients are wrestling with.
Shari Roan takes a look at the need in this latest LA Times post. According to Roan, because caregivers are constantly exposed to a variety of potentially overwhelming stressors, using mind body techniques such as meditation and yoga can help give these healers an effective strategy for maintaining optimal health.
UCLA researchers Helen Lavretsky and Michael Irwin conducted an eight-week, randomized trial on the effects of meditation exercise on 49 people who were home-based caregivers of a loved one with dementia. About half of the caregivers listened to relaxation tapes for 20 minutes a day for eight weeks, while the other caregivers practiced Kirtan Kirya yoga, a meditation exercise. The study’s authors then conducted tests on mental and cognitive health, did brain scans and measured telomere length. Telomeres are sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes that are protective of cellular health. Measuring telomere length can be used to determine how fast a person is aging.
The study found strong evidence that a meditative yoga routine improves both mental and physical health. While caregivers in both groups experienced benefits, the caregivers practicing Kirtan Kirya yoga had more improvements in quality of life, cognition and memory. Those study participants reported better sleep and less anxiety and said they felt care-giving was less of a burden than before they participated in the study.
Read more here on using yoga and meditation to stay energetically fit.