Living With The Guilt

Two months before my mom passed away I remember having a conversation that was so filled with anger and resentment that I think the guilt of it will never leave me.

My mom was at a point in her dementia where she was calling out for me literally for nothing.  She’d call for me to give her water, even though she had water right on her nightstand next to her, or she’d ask for toilet paper, an orange, to close her window, to turn on her light, to find her pencil, to cover her up with blankets, to find her pajamas, or her socks or her slippers.  When she would ask me for such things, she didn’t just give a shout out like, “Can you please get me some water?”.  No.  She would ask me for water and then repeat the request like a chant over and over and over and over and over again.  Then she would bang on her wall or the door with something, ironically sometimes it was with her water bottle that was filled with water.

I would tell her I was going to make dinner, and just as I was chopping the veggies or frying the chicken, she would holler from her bedroom that she was hungry, over and over and over and over again.  These repeated requests for things would drive me absolutely nuts.  One time she had me so nervous that I almost chopped my finger off while I was dicing potatoes.

Most of the things she requested of me were things she could have done herself, but towards the end of her life it seemed as if she had forgotten she was capable of doing them.  Like she talked herself out of wanting to do them, or like she really believed she couldn’t do them.  She was physically capable of turning her lights on or off and she could open and close her curtains.  These were things she’d done all of her life, but for some reason one day she just stopped being able to do them.  I remember tripping out on that.  It kinda freaked me out because I knew she was slipping deeper into her dementia.

Once we all got used to hearing her repeated requests for things, she started yelling for help.  Help me lord.  Help me somebody.  Help me Mandie….over and over and over. She sounded like she was hurt or had fallen but she wasn’t and she hadn’t.  More often than not, she would actually be sitting on her bed looking at her hands or her feet just yelling for help.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d rush into her bedroom thinking something was wrong only to find her sitting there chanting help help help help help, like a mantra.  I would ask her what she wanted and she would make stuff up because she really didn’t need anything and sometimes I think she didn’t even know she was yelling for help.  It was insane.  It was maddening.  I think the worst part was it didn’t make a difference if I told her that she scared me because I thought something was wrong, or that all the neighbors could hear her and were probably concerned because she couldn’t remember I’d say those things and 5 minutes after I’d leave the room she’d start yelling for help again.

Her requests for help didn’t stop at a certain time, like once she went to sleep, because she would wake up at 2 or 3am and start up all over again.  I would wake with a start and rush to her room.   One morning, around 4am I ran from my bedroom to her bedroom, my heart pounding, my eyes still groggy, because she was yelling for help. I asked her what was wrong.  She didn’t answer me so I got closer to her and realized she was asleep.  She was asleep yelling for help.  I called her name and roused her and she looked at me, still in a dreamstate and said, “Where is my food?” She wasn’t awake.  Wow

The conversation I had mentioned earlier was about how I felt trapped and how I felt that my choice to love and honor my mom by taking care of her gave me nothing but hardship.  It was rewardless.  My blood pressure was freaked out.  My heart was palpitating.  I broke out in a rash that would not go away no matter what I slathered or washed it with.  Then I started to break out in hives.  Every single night I’d break out in hives and I would be up for hours itching and miserable.  Financially I was finding it hard to make ends meet.  I couldn’t work because I had to take care of my mom 24/7. I couldn’t afford to have someone come in and watch her because I didn’t have a job.  I lost my car because I couldn’t afford to pay for it.  I had to apply for food stamps.

It seemed that every single horrible financial thing that could happen was happening to me and I couldn’t understand how my goodness was giving me such horrific karma.  I started to think that there must be a reason people don’t do the honorable thing because it doesn’t pay ya back.  I wondered how my life would have turned out had I put my mom in a home and walked away from that responsibility.  Would I have a good paying job?  Would I be living in a nice city and driving a nice car?  Would I have a boyfriend?  Would I be traveling?  All of those thoughts came pouring out of me during my conversation and all of the resentment towards my mom had built up to the point where I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep breathing.  It was pretty awful.  And then my mom died.

Thinking back on that conversation, I can understand that I was overwhelmed.  I didn’t have anyone helping me.  I had absolutely no support system, emotionally or financially. I felt alone and exhausted and sorry for myself.  Luckily, I didn’t stay in that bad place for too long.  I think it lasted all of one or two days, but it was intense while it lasted and because of its intensity, the memory of it will never go away.

I suppose I can go into a spiritual mindset and try to make sense of the timing.  Not two months had gone by after that conversation when my mom passed away.  Was it divine intervention for both me and my mom?  Had her life prolonged, would my life had been cut shorter?  Did God see that I just was not able to go through any more hardship?  Those are questions that will never be answered so I can’t beat myself over the head about it, but I suppose it’s all still so fresh and this is part of the mourning process and I’m just trying to deal.

I will say this though – If I had to do it all over again, for my mom I would do it in a heartbeat.  Sure I’d change some things and change some choices I had made during those 7 years, but I would definitely make the same decision to take care of her.  She was after all my mom.

 

 

The Finality

Today, I had to sign the paperwork that included my mom’s death certificate, a “contract” for the mortuary, and a form that said I agreed with the time of her death.  Yuck.  That last word sits on my tongue like poison.

I had set up an appointment to do this today at 10am, but I realized, after a long night of hearing things and just being uncomfortable, and tossing and turning…I wasn’t going to be able to make the appointment so I called to reschedule.  The man that has been working with me on this, and who I was supposed to meet up with to take care of the final paperwork wasn’t available, but I did speak to his wife.  She said to come in before 2.  I said I couldn’t make it at 2 so she suggested I just come in tomorrow morning.  My problem with this is that I no longer have a car, and if I rode my bike up there (it’s all uphill) I’d be out of breath and near death myself.  I’m relying on my friend, and the only time she can take me is after she picks up her kiddo from school, which is after 2:50.  I explained this to the wife and she told me that she also picks up her kid at the same time and she doesn’t go back to the mortuary after that, so if her husband isn’t available, which he was scheduled to be at funeral services all week, I wouldn’t be able to do it until I could make it before 2pm.  After hearing this, my friend made arrangements for me to get a ride with her boyfriend, Darin today before 2pm so all was cool.

Because this appointment was made yesterday, I had all the rest of the day, and all of this morning to mentally prepare for this.  Signing a document that allows someone to cremate my mom is weird.  I knew this day was coming.  I’m sure some of us all kinda know we’re going to do this for our parents, but when the time comes it just isn’t all that smooth an experience.  It’s kinda tough on the emotions.  It’s a step towards saying goodbye.  Like chiseling it into stone.  So it didn’t surprise me when I walked out my front door and almost threw up.  My stomach lurched and I thought for a second there that I was going to lose my lunch, but I managed to maintain and off we went.

When we got there I told Darin I didn’t want to go in.  I was starting to panic.  He said he’d go in with me.  Okay.  That made me less scared and I was thankful to have someone there with me.  When we walk in the wife pulled us into a room to sign the documents.  I noticed her eye was red and she said it was hurting her and she’d made an appointment with the doctor. I told her I hoped it wasn’t pink eye.  Darin chimed in that it’s called conjunctivitis and then made a joke about how if he’d said that to my mom she would have said, “what?” because she was so hard of hearing.  Then we joked about how she would have made the word conjunctivitis into an entirely different word that in no way meant the same thing, and we both laughed.  The wife just kinda sat there looking at us.  Darin tried to explain that my mom was hard of hearing, and the wife just sat there emotionless but this time just looking at him.

She told me to go over the paperwork and make sure there weren’t any errors.  I noticed one and she rolled her eyes..  Then I noticed another, another eye roll from her.  During this time Darin was reflecting about how my mom would ask him to help her get things out of a shelf in her closet.  My mom would ask him this, and then she’d go on and on about how tall and helpful he was.  Darin was feeling sad, but during his reflection the wife started tapping her fingers loudly against the table.  I thought it was rude of her so I asked her if she was bored.  She said she wasn’t, so I pointed out that she was tapping her fingers against the table.  She kinda buckled and looked a bit embarrassed but she stopped tapping.  As I was signing the papers, I was overwhelmed with the finality of this part of my mom’s life and I almost started to cry.  I looked at her and said I was missing my mom, and she said “Nobody said it was going to be easy”.  It wasn’t even like she felt sad for me or that she was trying to make me feel like she cared.  It was like a naggy irritated statement.  I was in complete shock.  Imagine being in the business of helping people with the death of their loved ones and having no compassion.  This was who this woman was.  She was dead herself, inside.

I signed the last document and we left, but on the way out I was burning with anger.  This woman was cold.  I imagined how she treats other people.  Do you think she treats parents who’ve lost a child like this?  If I were signing these very documents for one of my kids and she said what she said to me about their death, I would have poked her eyes out.  Yes, I would have lunged at her and choked her out.  She would have needed her own services.  Because it was my mom, and I knew my mother’s passing was inevitable, I held my tongue.  Also, I want my mom’s ashes in my hands before I file a formal complaint.  I will complain.  This doesn’t get to happen and then be forgotten.  I will complain loudly to anyone who will listen.  Our local sheriffs department highly recommended this mortuary to me so they will also get a complaint.  I’m appalled.

After a good 2 hours of this woman’s words ruining my happiness, I got over it by summing up that her words and her actions are just a reflection of an ignorant ass, but I plotted her demise.  I just need to have my mom’s ashes in my hands before she tastes my wrath.

The D Word

It’s been a little over a week and I find I’m having a hard time, when talking about my mother’s passing, saying that she’s d.e.a.d.  Ugh.  Just typing that out, even with the periods makes me cringe.  I hate that word.  She’s passed, or she’s passed away, or she’s with Jesus, or she’s gone home, or she’s in heaven….anything other than that she’s d.e.a.d.  My mom isn’t d.e.a.d.  Her personality was way too strong to be d.e.a.d., especially her last few years on this planet.  That lady was very much a burning candle, very much demanding attention from all of those who were in her life.  Her passing has left a loud silence for all of us who were in her life and to think she’s going to be regarded as d.e.a.d. just doesn’t fly with me.  It’s too final.

Maybe I’m being over sensitive.  Maybe I got my quirks, but that was my mom and if I don’t feel cool saying that my mom is d.e.a.d. than so be it.  I wonder how normal it is that I can’t bring myself to say it, and god forbid anyone else were to say it to my face.  I don’t know why I am so sensitive but I am.   I have, for the past few days, tried in vain to remember how some of my friends refer to their parents who’ve passed away.  Do they say their mom or dad is dead?  I just can’t recall.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know she’s no longer here, and I know she isn’t coming back, she’s not on vacation, or just living far far away.  Her time as a human being walking this earth is over.  I just don’t really like the word dead and I most certainly don’t like the words “mom” and “dead” used in the same sentence.

I’m sure one day this will not be an issue.  I’ll probably have no qualms about saying it later later later in the future, but for now I can’t do it.

 

Grief

Grief is one of the hardest things to describe.  I don’t even think there is an exact description for it.  Everyone grieves different and yet we all share some of the same feelings.  One thing is for sure, it is tough on us both mentally and physically, it is exhausting and it is sad.

I lost my mom this past Saturday.  She was 88 glorious years old.  She had an incredible will to live.  In 2007, and at the ripe age of 81, she suffered a series of strokes that left the right side of her body paralyzed.  In 2011 she broke her hip.  In 2012 she broke 3 ribs.  She also was afflicted with dementia and her hearing was terrible, but to her very last day of life that woman was still capable of holding a normal conversation, a very loud conversation, but a conversation nonetheless.

I have been her caretaker since her strokes.  Once released from the hospital, she moved in with my husband, son, and me and we became a complete number.  Her battle to regain the use of the right side of her body was hard.  She hated the exercises they had her do.  She would moan and groan when it came time to do them.  She would hide her exercise list and sometimes she would lie and say she did them.  If I helped her with them, she would become irritated and mule headed, but through her stubbornness she was able to walk again with the help of a cane.  Although she was never able to regain the use of her right hand, that didn’t stop her from writing as she eventually taught herself to write with her left hand.  I remember being in awe of her because of it.  I didn’t think I’d be able to learn a trick like that if I were 81.  Heck no, but that was my mom.  She was a trooper.

Throughout the last 4 years it became evident that her memory loss was more than just something we all get from old age.  It was subtle at first and then suddenly she couldn’t remember anything past 3 minutes.  Dementia is horrible for everyone involved.  It’s frustrating, it’s ugly, it’s unfair.  We tried to slow its progress with medication, but those made her stomach hurt so she refused them after a week of taking them.  We tried cutting out certain foods, having her do word puzzles, having her write in a daily journal the things she ate or did throughout the day.  Writing things down was okay for a short time but after awhile she couldn’t remember what she did or what she ate, and then she started losing things, starting with her daily journal.

My mom was happiest when she was surrounded by her grandchildren.  I have pictures of her with the biggest grin on her face and her grandchildren are either sitting on her lap or standing next to her.  She lived for those moments.  She never forgot their names or their talents.  One thing I will always treasure about my mom was that she always rejoiced in our capabilities.  I crocheted a doll and showed it to her and she went on and on about how beautiful it was.  I was going to sell that doll but, after seeing my mom’s reaction to it, I decided to give it to her.  She would kiss that doll every night and tell her she was beautiful.  Giving her the doll was the best decision I ever made.

My mom was getting more and more tired this past year.  She still managed to get herself dressed.  She made her bed every morning.  She could still tie her shoes and organize her closet, but she was tired, and frustrated, and I know she felt very alone.  Also this past year, she started having daily conversations with my aunt Frances who had passed away the same year my mom had her strokes.  When my aunt died, my mom was still recovering from her stroke and was unable to attend the funeral service, so I assumed she hadn’t really gotten closure.  On a daily basis, my mom would ask me where Frances was.  I had heard we’re supposed to go along with the stories that people who have dementia and alzheimers tell us because it keeps them calm, but every time I would it would raise the anxiety in my mom.  She would ask when her sister was coming home and, because I was going along with the story, I’d tell her she was coming either soon, later, in a few weeks.  Whatever answer I gave my mom, she couldn’t remember, she just knew her sister was on her way, and she’d wait up for her.  One night very late my mom knocked on my bedroom door worried that Frances hadn’t come home yet and she wanted me to call the police, that was when I stopped going along with her story and telling her the truth seemed easier on my mom.

For the past two months, my mom started talking to her mom who died before I was born.  I can’t even describe the fear that I felt when she started doing this.  I knew she was getting close to the end of her time on this earth.  Just writing about it fills me with sadness.  There was nothing I could do to keep my mom here and I’m happy that her last days were filled with daily visits from two of her most favorite people, but damn.  I am so incredibly sad.

I’m at comforted that she passed peacefully in her sleep, and that she is no longer hurting or feeling frustrated.  She is finally with Jesus.  Any fear she may have had about dying never entered her mind because she passed in her sleep.  She and I had talked about how we wanted to die and she got her wish.  That comforts me too.

Since the day my mom passed away, my days have been dreamlike.  I feel as if I’m on autopilot going through the day to day moves.  I haven’t had the energy to cook.  If I’m left alone, the silence is so loud.  My son and I have been blessed with friends who’ve been sending casseroles and meals.  They’ve been so gentle and compassionate.  My gratitude for them has grown tenfold.  I can only hope to be as good of a friend to them in their time of sadness.

I find it hardest to shake what once was my daily schedule of waking and feeding my mom, getting her water, making sure her windows were open, finding her slippers, making sure her television was set to the channel she wanted.  Just last night I was eating a cookie and I thought to myself that my mom would so love a cookie, and as I started to take her one, it hit me that she was no longer alive.  I do that all throughout the day.  Last night was the cookie, today was a cup of tea, a few days ago I started to make her a plate of hummus and pita bread.  I still go to check on her each night.  I swear I can hear her calling out for me when I’m in my bedroom watching a movie.  I know it’s been less than a week, and I know that I will eventually stop doing these things, but right now it’s what I’m doing each time I do I turn into a bundle of tears.  It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I don’t even need a reason to cry.  I cried at Walgreens today while I was paying for something.  Just right out of the blue those tears come.

Then there is regret.  I think that’s the first most outstanding feeling after sadness that hits us when someone passes away.  I should have taken more pictures, held her hand more, hugged her tighter, had more patience when she wanted a second dinner because she couldn’t remember eating a first.  Why didn’t I video tape her more?  Or take her to the beach, or the movies?  I read that we are supposed to allow those regrets to come and allow the guilt to be real.  We shouldn’t fight them because it’s a normal part of the grieving process.  I was an ass because I didn’t hug her tighter.  I was an ass because I would get angry at her when she couldn’t help what she was doing.  All I can do is admit I was an ass and ask her quietly if she’ll forgive me.  Please, mom….forgive me for being that way.  I know if she were alive she’d tell me I was talking nonsense and that of course she forgives me because she is my mom and that’s what moms do.  Knowing that releases some of those regrets.

I’ve already spent quite some time smelling her clothes.  I am keeping and wearing the green robe she loved so much.  I sit on her bed and talk to her as if she’s sitting there next to me.  At times I think I’m losing my touch with reality, but then I think it’s got to be completely normal to do the things I’m doing.  I say goodnight to her each night as I pass her bedroom and I still sleep lightly in case she needs me in the middle of the night.  My dreams have been filled with my mom.  Each night so far I’ve dreamed of her.  Last night my dream was so vivid I didn’t want to wake up and when I did I was so sad that I tried to go back to sleep just to continue my mom’s presence.

Because I have been the caretaker for my mom all of these years, and I literally have been glued to my home for the past 4 years, whenever I leave the house now I feel that I need to hurry home to mom in case she is scared I’m not there or if she’s fallen down.  Not having to rush home for my mom will probably take me awhile to get used to.  I almost feel guilty being allowed more time.

In all the grief, there is something positive that has come out of it.  I have learned to lean on my family.  We are all scattered throughout the states, and we have not kept in close contact.  I’m totally guilty of not calling them like I should, but this loss has transformed my necessity to hear their voices.  My mom would have loved knowing this.  I bet she does know and I bet she is overjoyed about it.

I don’t know how long this overwhelming sadness will stay with me, but for now I think the best thing to do is allow it just to be.  I will let it exist.  It may sound strange but there is some comfort in it.

I think I’ll end this with my mom’s favorite poem:

One night I had a dream–
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
“I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
“When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”  -Mary Stevenson

I love you mom and I miss you terribly but I will see you again so instead of saying goodbye I’m going to say goodnight.

 

Weird Hours

My hours are weird.  For the past 5 years I’ve fluctuated on and off with insomnia.  Recently, I’ve been crazily getting a second wind at about 9pm, and I cycle through till around 2:30 or 3:00am.  These second winds are fully loaded, as if I’ve buzzed myself out with coffee.  Sometimes I can stay awake till 5am, get about two and a half hours sleep, cycle through the day, and then I’m up till the next morning at 5am!  It’s nuts!

I remember when I was young, I had to have been about 10, I was told by a tiny little old man outside my local Thrifty (god I loved that Thrifty), that the older you get the less sleep you need.  He went on to tell me that it was “because just because, that’s what happens when you get old”.  Years later, my landlady told me the same thing (and don’t quote me, but I am sure of it that she’s still alive and frisky as can be, and she should already be about 95!)  For some reason this information stuck with me all these years.

So what does this all mean?  Are my hours weird because I’m old?  Are they weird because I’m stressed?  Maybe they’re just weird because I’m weird.  Whatever the case, I am so totally done with this nonsense.   I need this all to change somehow.  This is my dilemma.

Although I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything, including meditation (sore subject), there is one thing I haven’t tried.  Exercise!  Duh, right?  But it’s not that easy, and that is an entirely new blog deserving it’s own post.

Anyway, exercise probably is closer to the answer than just being swallowed up by sloth’ism, so I am willing myself to get back to running this Monday.  I know I’m gonna hurt for a minute, but the health benefits alone….well, it’s a no brainer.  Even if I still have weird hours, exercise will in fact help me in other ways, Right?  So it’s done then.  I’ve willed myself.  I’d better not let myself down.  So done with that too!

 

Is There a Bondage in Christianity?

I’m a Christian.  I believe there is a God and a Jesus.  I believe there were disciples, a burning bush, 10 commandments, an ark, people turned into stone, giants, talking snakes, blah blah blah, but I am really struggling with a subject that I find hard to approach some of my Christian friends about for fear they will think I’m falling off the Jesus wagon, which I’m not, but sometimes a not so open mind will see it that way.

The subject is “meditation” and by meditation I don’t mean meditating with “The Word” as so many of my Christian friends and pastors have guided me to do when I’m struggling.  No.  I mean plain old fashion buddhist style, om mantra’ing, sitting crossed legged on the floor and imagining the color of my chakra meditation.  Are you getting a pretty good visual of that description?  Now imagine the smell of incense and that visual will be complete.

I struggle with it because I have been told, repeatedly, that this is not of God and that it’s evil and wrong and oh boy I’m gonna go to hell if I even considered doing such a thing, but in all honesty and from the bottom of my heart, I just ain’t feeling the evil in it.

Now hear me out before condemning me to hell.  I should probably start by giving you a brief history of where I’m coming from and why I’m even seeking meditation.  You see, lately I have been so overwhelmingly stressed that I literally can feel my blood pressure rising to an unhealthy level.  My ears ring, then my head buzzes, then something sounds like it’s snapping (more like a boinging sound) in my head, and then I get confused.  Sometimes my speech slows down.  I’ve never really looked up the symptoms of high blood pressure, just the effects, so I could, for all I know, not even be experiencing a blood pressure thing.  Could just be an adrenaline rush.  Either way, it freaks me out and I know it can’t be healthy, so I’ve been trying to discover ways to de-stress, decompress, chillax.  Basically, I need to just mellow out, and aside from praying, which is wonderful don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked into other ways, other more worldy ways if you will, like yoga, changing my diet, drinking less coffee, drinking more vodka, picking my battles, I even listened to hours of Tony Robbins, but none of these things seem to be doing the trick, although Tony Robbins does suggest a sort of ritual where you repeat certain things, like changes you’d like to make in yourself, or things you are thankful for before you jump out of bed which, to me, I look at the same way I look at how some people do their “things I’m grateful for” countdown to the Thanksgiving holiday, usually done of facebook or another type of social media we use so everyone can see it.  I truly believe counting one’s blessings is healthy and healing.  It changes one’s perspective and can make a horrible moment less impactful because, I mean, who are we kidding?  It could always be worse, right?

Now, let’s go back to how Tony Robbins asks that we repeat things.  Repeat.  Hmm…..  This could sound a little bit like a sort of chant.  Have you ever, as a child, swore a monster was coming out of your closet to kill you and you’d repeat over and over again something like, “Monsters aren’t real!  Monsters aren’t real!”?  Wasn’t that, in a weird way, kind of comforting at the time?  Or how about when you have the flu? Have you ever moaned through the pain?  I have, and it always helps.  Always!  Sometimes I rock back and forth and moan at the same time.  Come to think of it, that got me through a stomach ache just yesterday.  Sounds strange to some, but I know I’m not alone on this, right?  Be honest.

Now, let’s go back to this post about meditation and how my brain works.  Thinking about the comfort of a moan led me to research the benefits of them.  Moaning takes my focus off of my pain. This could actually be healing.  Then I researched the various practices of self healing.  I’ve heard of people who swear their positive thoughts actually healed them of cancer.  The more I thought about that the more I believed in the power of self healing.  Researching self healing led me to meditation and mantras.  Also, there are these things called “Chakras” that are believed to be specific areas in our bodies that can be centers for healing or poisoning us physically and or mentally.  They are thought to be seven energy centers that serve as junction points between the body and consciousness.  Chakras fascinate me and I’m still researching them, but I hope to someday be very educated about them for personal use.

Now, even though I was raised to believe anything other than that meditation is pure evil, my curiosity got the better of me. Don’t get me wrong.  I did a LOT of soul searching and praying about it first but eventually I decided to just take the plunge.  I also reasoned that medicine was once thought to be the practice of magic, and I have friends who swear their oxycodones are pretty magical, but in all seriousness, we now know better and some of us know we’re alive and well because of it.  I think we all know better now because at some point in time more of us were willing to be open minded, and who’s to say this can’t be said for meditation as well?

In my research, I learned mantras are an ancient and sacred Hindu practice of Sanskrit recitations.  To my understanding, Sanskrit recitation is the act of repeating an audial sound, like the sound om or aum.   One can insert and repeat (or chant) a phrase, a prayer, or just a word as well.  It can be spoken or sung.  The sound of om is believed to actually mean God, so before and after a chant one says, “Om”.

Okay, here is where things can get uncomfortable for a Christian.  Some religions aren’t chanting to the same God I believe in.  Some beliefs have various gods.  Though there are, for the lack of a better word, pre-set mantras, this isn’t to say those mantras are the only ones to use.  I, for one, will not pray to another god.  If I did I would be buying myself a ticket to hell.  That’s biblical and I ain’t gonna test that, period.  However, why can’t I pray to my god in the form of a mantra?  Ah.  See where I’m going on this?

For example, I can om and direct that om to my god, then I can pray melodically in the form of a chant.  Wait a minute!  Don’t Roman Catholics do this?  Ever heard of Gregorian Chants?  Gregorian chanting is thought to be a form of worship.  I do believe the pope still uses this practice to this very day.  I sing worship songs at church.  So why can’t my melodic prayer chants be considered a form of worship?  I’ll tell you why.  Because most Christians I know don’t educate themselves past what they hear in a church service or what they read in the bible or, like myself, they just go with what they were taught to believe growing up without asking questions.

The bible is a guide that doesn’t include all historic practices of worship to God, if it did it would be huge and would take for-ev-er to read through, but more importantly, if it did we would all learn a thing or two about the various forms of worship.  To me, there is a gray area because of this.  I don’t like gray areas because they make me search for answers, and I don’t trust anyone to answer those questions because I don’t believe they know all the facts, because they’re human with room for error, thus my struggle.

Am I wrong to go deeper than just prayer and bible reading for self healing?  Even worse, am I wrong to believe that the ways some other religions worship could be beneficial to myself?  It feels very much to me like a form of bondage.  Why is it that I can openly admit to a fellow Christian to drinking a glass of wine for relaxation but not trust them to understand the benefit of Sanskrit recitations without condemning me to hell?  How can we evolve as Christians with such short sightedness and with such closed minds?

So, yesterday I decided to sit down and practice what I had learned about meditation while focusing on a specific Chakra.  This included listening to various types of instruments.  I discovered in my research that the note C is specific to healing the first Chakra, also known as the Root Chakra.  I specified this one because it relates to our most basic survival needs and our sense of belonging, whether to our family or a larger group. When this chakra is clear and energy flows through it freely, we feel secure and confident that we can easily fulfill our needs.  Fulfilling my need to seek self healing was my goal so I went with it.  Blockage in this area can cause us to feel anxious and worried, a perfect example of my everyday being.  Also, it’s believed to be located at the base of the spine.  I have a bad lower back.  Could this be a coincidence?

During meditation I concentrated on opening up my mind to a power of self, the power of peace, and the power of good health with God as my focus, but also with me as having the power to have the ability to be empowered.  I struggled through what my Christian friends would think of me if they knew what I was doing.  For the first few minutes I was overwhelmed with guilt, but each minute thereafter I became more and more calm.  Why worry about what anyone thinks of me?  God knows what I’m thinking and what I’m doing.  I believe that is all that matters in the end, unless one of my friends is going to be standing at the pearly gates to speak on my behalf when my time comes, and trust and believe I know a few pompous and judgmental Christians who act as if that is even remotely possible.

After meditating I felt like a million bucks.  I was so strangely calm my son even commented on it.  I was energized and in a great mood, and believe it or not, my back pain was almost nonexistent.  I truly believe all this was because I trusted meditation would help me and because I worked on opening up that chakra.

Later, I thought about all of the guilt I initially had going into my first serious meditation session and it really bothered me that I carried such a heavy load based on the ignorance of other people.  It felt very much like bondage and bondage is as bad as stress.  It holds us back from being able to see past the trees in the forest, and from seeing a light at the end of a tunnel.  It keeps us constrained to the past.  It imprisons us.  Who wants that for themselves?

I have much more learning to do with regard to meditation and chakras but as it stands I believe in the benefits of keeping my mind open and learning about these things.  I’m still a Christian, and being a Christian means using the brain God gave me to seek answers and gain wisdom.  I’d like to hear someone elses take on the matter.  Feel free to comment.

Tree Trimming

Love, so fickle and angry

So delicate a reflection of

The soul

Love, the mere act

To love with a fierceness

So unlike that of my emotions

Love, the necessary element

Missing from many

Yet with so many holding on

To give theirs to someone worthy

Love, if it will come to me

Will be kept warm

Will be kept safe and protected

From the monsters

That hide under the bed