Meditation Articles Series

Reflections on Dementia and Meditation

When youíre with someone who is in the early stages of dementia you will notice that their short-term memory is impaired.  As a result a demented person will repeat the same question, or statement again and again within a short time span.  The person will have absolutely no recall of having just asked that same question.  Parts of this personís brain are no longer functioning as they used to.  In time they will have little control over their thoughts, or even what they are saying.

I become very aware that while my brain is still functioning I do have control over what I pay attention to as thoughts arise.  And sometimes weíve all experienced a thought or a tune in our heads that somehow is very reluctant to leave.  It just keeps on and on.  What if we were to say that thought out loud, you know, the one thatís almost obsessive?  Doing that, the repeated thought out loud sounds like anyone with dementia.  What to do with a thought that is so persistent?  This can happen in meditation especially if there is some concern or worry in everyday living.

It always comes back to accepting and allowing and not berating ourselves that a thought, albeit a never ending thought just wonít seem to go away.  In time with regular meditation thoughts will of course still arise, but they no longer have the same impact or power to distract from the one pointed focus being used.  The more the mind quietens, the less the influx of thoughts.  As this quietening of mind and body unfolds what then arises is presence; of being here now.

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