Saturday, June 4, 2016

In The Moment

In the moment. Experiencing the here and now. And I am not necessarily comfortable with this.

After a thorough Thai Massage yesterday with massage therapist Sarah McLaughlin, with whom I have been working for, what, five years now; I got into my car, completely relaxed, and feeling a strange feeling. I stopped as I was sitting in the driver's seat, car yet unstarted, to think about what I was feeling. It was an uncomfortable feeling. It wasn't a good feeling or a bad feeling. It wasn't filled with happiness or sadness. It just was. But it was uncomfortable.

I realized that besides scattered bits of conversation with Sarah during the hour long massage, my world had stopped. It had stopped except for the sensations of my body being stretched, pushed, pulled, rotated, massaged. My mind focused on each part as it was manipulated. I sensed the pain, and the good feelings, and the tensing and release of muscle. But I did this without labeling the sensation or the body part.

I didn't need to label my arm and the muscle tension slowly disappearing, I just was focused on the moment. I did not label each hip in turn or the pain and release which radiated from the hip towards the knee and at times on opposite sides of the body. I just focused on the moment.

Today I had a similar experience. After catching up on e-mails, paying a few bills; after updating my iPad and iPhone including a call for help from Apple SOS; a light breakfast of toast and yogurt and later another cup of coffee; a brief nap, one or the other of the cats chasing each other, rubbing my leg for attention, or a yawl or purr; running a few loads of laundry and folding the results; I decided to lie down for half an hour before meeting a friend for dinner in the neighborhood.

As I lie in bed, still in m P.J.s, I experienced this "In The Moment" again. I felt the crisp smooth sheets against my body, the nubs of the cotton blanket under my fingers, the soft pillow supporting my head, the sound of the HVAC, the gurgling of the water in the cat fountain located in the bathroom just opposite my bed, the soft fur of the cat lying next to me and slightly leaning on my thigh while cleaning herself.

As an exercise, recently studied in one of my Buddhist books, I tried to experience each physical feeling and each auditory experience without labeling the object or the noise. I actually was able to do this. But agin, like yesterday in the car, it felt uncomfortable. Not good or bad, I just didn't like the experience.

So I stayed with that thought to see why I was feeling uncomfortable. I did not want to label the experience GOOD or BAD but was disturbed that I was uncomfortable. An awareness came to me. I am so used to the sounds around me, and distraction, and all sorts of odd jobs and activities, always doing something, always thinking about how to do what is happening now or what's next, thinking about future travel plans, tonight's dinner, are the sox ready to come out of the washer and be put into the dryer.

With the ability to stop all that "noise in my head," I had truly achieved being "in the moment," experiencing the "here and now." And I was not used to this. I had experienced it while spending time with Gregory and just being focused on being with him, not what was next, not the Alzheimer's, not what I would be doing later that night. But even then the "here and now" was filled with activities of the present, even if the past and the future played no mind.

This time, it was a place I had not been before in such this way. It was so strange, foreign, uncomfortable. Perhaps even fearful. No labels, no names, no explanations or descriptions. Just in the moment. Time seemed to stop. Past and future did not exist not did the present. In some ways, I wondered, is this was death feels like? Just not so permanent?

So what is next? Not sure. Learning to become more comfortable in the absence of things and activities of life? Learning to listen more carefully to the calm that exists within me when I can turn off the "noise in my head?" Not sure. Not sure.


  1. It will be interesting to see if being in the present without distraction will become a comfortable state or if you need to move past it.

    I have a question, hardly appropriate here but I'll ask anyway rather than go back and search. As the Alz. progressed and Gregory stopped playing the piano, did you use music in trying to comfort him, bring back a memory, reach a forgotten spot?

    I was reading this morning about Music Therapy and there is renewed interest in using the music of one's teen years to enhance memory in dementia. Not everybody's teen years held the same music. I might best respond to a rousing Sousa march.

    1. Stay tuned for more on the "HERE AND NOW." Always appropriate to ask questions! Even though Gregory could no longer play music we often listened to classical music in the condo, always had it on at dinner time. By the time he was at Lieberman, I bought him a high quality set of head phones and he loved listening to mostly classical but some Disco, Abba, and show tunes. When he was upset or agitated I would use music to help sooth him. I have seen a few documentaries on how music brought people out of deep lethargy and "disappearance" but Gregory was more or less present most of the time. His language disappeared and the music didn't help that except he did sing along in nonsense (at least to me.) Sometimes he and I would harmonize in "nonsense." Difficult times but many good memories even as he declined.


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