Paul Kusuda’s column
Caregivers need encouragement
Paul H. Kusuda
Mindfulness is a useful method often used to reduce feelings of stress and to help direct conscious attention to one’s self.  
As in meditation, that inward direction of thinking can be used to induce calmness, to enable movement to an over-all
relaxation of time and other pressures.  It’s a means of forcing one’s conscious thoughts to the here and now, not to what’s
behind or what’s ahead.  It’s satisfying and offers a chance “to stop the world” for a while.  It harms no one; however, it also
doesn’t help anyone else directly.  

A concern I have is that the technique of directing exclusive thinking to self makes me think it’s a monastic approach and
brings to my mind a person sitting in a lonely spot, perhaps high on a hill, and just sitting there contemplating about how
bad things are happening, people are suffering, and someone should do something.  “Woe is me.”  My feeling is that
mindfulness places too much attention on self and not enough on others.

According to a quotation I found on Page 97 of a recently-published book, 8 LAWS OF CHANGE:  HOW TO BE AN AGENT
OF PERSONAL AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION by Stephan A. Schwartz, Albert Einstein said:  “A human being is part of
the whole, called by us as ‘Universe,’ a time part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and
feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of
prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to
free ourselves from this prison…”  Those words could well be applied to the exercise of mindfulness and can serve as a
cautionary note for an unanticipated result.

I would be more accepting of the positive attributes of mindfulness as a mechanism to reduce feelings of being
stressed
By Paul H. Kusuda

As noted the past two months, both care recipients and caregivers face problems that will
increasingly burgeon as time goes on because of the effects of aging on our populations.  The
availability ratio of caregivers to care recipients will definitely face a downward trend as aging
exerts its inevitable influence.  Because of medical and other advances, the number of elderly
and frail elderly will continue to grow. As caregivers age, they will themselves become care
recipients.  Who will replace them?  There is no easy answer.

Currently, efforts are made to deal with known stresses facing caregivers.  Various strategies
used to ameliorate or reduce negative effects include learning best practices to handle
caregiving responsibilities and following principles of meditation or mindfulness.  I referred last
month to best practices.  That leads to thinking about the use of meditation or mindfulness as a
mechanism to reduce stress.  That’s easier said than done.  One’s mind is not easy to control;
however, with conscious effort, control becomes easier with practice and perseverance.  
out if, simultaneously, there
could be consideration of
adding a modicum of empathy
for others. Somehow,
mindfulness may well get
tainted with a dose of
narcissism that results in a loss
in sense of otherness.  If
attention to self and a feel for
empathy for others can be
combined into the technique,
and I don’t know if such merger
of concepts can be made
compatibly, I’d feel more
comfortable touting it as an
excellent tool for caregivers to
practice.