Video with the Learnings from Alzheimer’s

At Moving Your Soul we have been collecting for years stories from great people who have discovered how to find in Alzheimer’s, beyond the pain and sadness, a reason for joy, growth and learning in their own lives. A few weeks ago we decided to ask a new question through the social media:

What have you learnt from Alzheimer’s?

In this video you can see the inspiring responses we have received, selected and translated with all our best intention and gratitude. Lots of people from different parts of the world have shared in few words a hopeful message from dementia/Alzheimer’s. Thank you everyone for participating!

Enjoy the video and if you know someone who can appreciate it, please share!!

Alzheimer’s Learnings

At Moving Your Soul we have been collecting testimonials for years from great people who have known how to find in Alzheimer’s, beyond the pain and sadness, a reason for joy, growth and learning in their own lives.

Some weeks ago, we started a project, called #fromAlzheimersIhaveLearnt, and for the moment we have received the comments below. We encourage you to participate, in case you haven’t yet.

What have you learnt from Alzheimer’s?

Click here to participate: Learning From Alzheimer’s

What have you learnt from Alzheimer’s?

Click here to participate: Learning From Alzheimer’s

What have you learnt from Alzheimer’s?

At Moving Your Soul we have been collecting testimonials for years from great people who have known how to find in Alzheimer’s, beyond the pain and sadness, a reason for joy, growth and learning in their own lives. We now want to invite you all to leave, in just a few words, what you have learnt from Alzheimer’s.

Share what you have learnt so that between us all we can amount to so much more.

What have you learnt from Alzheimer’s? In your personal experience with the disease, or as family member or carer. Leave your message!

Within the next few weeks we will be creating a video with the most inspiring comments.

If you would like to receive the Video by electronic mail, leave us your e-mail address and we will send it to you.

How to participate? There are two ways:

- Leave a comment below
- Tweet your comment with this hashtag: ‪#‎fromAlzheimersIhavelearnt‬

Thank you for participating!

Moving Your Soul’s Team

A moving book for living with Alzheimer’s

There are books that change our lives, and there are books that can help us in difficult moments, like when we are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or if we have a person we love with this illness. “I’m still here”, by John Zeisel, is one of these books that help and inspire…

Written by a Ph.D., president and co-founder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, this book is very inspiring because it offers a different point of view about Alzheimer’s and dementia in general. Dr. Zeisel’s shows the possibility and benefits of connecting with an Alzheimer’s patient through their abilities that don’t diminish with time. Even with Alzheimer’s, people can understand music, art, facial expressions, and touch. By harnessing these capacities, and by using other techniques, it’s possible to offer the person a quality life with connection to others and to the world.

“The person is there. The person knows she’s there. It is up to others to remember and recognize this always. As the disease progresses, other people are the keepers of that person’s personhood. Those who overlook this contribute directly to the person’s anxiety, agitation, aggression and apathy. Acknowledging the person by words and actions reduces these symptoms.”

John Zeisel has a foundation with the same name of the book, where he develops and evaluates innovative non-pharmacological approaches for people with cognitive challenges. They’ve been more than a decade focusing on creating and implementing inclusive, community-based arts and culture programming.

Which books have helped you? Tell us about one of them! Be social and leave a Reply!

People with dementia provide a voice in the world that should be heard

These days , after our colleague and friend Begoña has left us, we have been remembering all those days that provided us with her wise presence in Moving your Soul . And part of her legacy is this article we publish today, and, for some reason, was not released at the time she wrote it. In this article Begoña challenges us to look in the deepest part of ourselves, as individuals and as a system. She encourages us to let us walk between light and shadow, and all with the noble aim of making this world a better and more beautiful place. As beautiful and noble as you are, Begoña… ! Curiously, she speaks of Alzheimer as a voice to listen in today’s world, but it is the voice of Begoña what we listen through her written words, a voice at the same time compassionate and provocative, like she was. A voice that must also be heard.

“If one single drop of water contains the secret of the immense ocean, as Kalhil Gibran said, all possible manifestations of life are to be found in one manifestation of the human being. What happens is that we choose what to identify with and we normally do so by choosing between two possibilities. Accepting one with its corresponding subjective evaluation. And discounting another, which also has a subjective evaluation.

So for example we might say: ¨I am an evolved, intelligent being in control of my own destiny”, against “I am not an irrational, stupid being with no control over my destiny¨.

However, that which we reject does not disappear but rather becomes integrated into the part of our soul we call the Shade or Shadow. And this worries us a lot because it is made up of everything we reject of this society and we believe it should disappear from reality in order for it to be healthy and perfect. Without realising that this shade contains everything the world needs to be healthy and perfect.

The shadow becomes illness. When an illness or diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, massively increases within a period of time, there is a very specific message that the system is ignoring. Our fear of confronting this shade or shadow prevents us from moving forwards and therefore healing’. And yet only the courage to face the shadow will save us.

Alzheimer’s is an escape to another planet probably less painful than the one in which reason, productivity, everything fast, young, controlled, rational, logical, material, realistic, etc. reigns, repudiating all of their opposites: the irrational, lack of productivity, the slow, old, corporal, illogical, spiritual, fantastical… Alzheimer’s is a powerful voice for the illness suffered by our system, increasingly early, widespread and more acute.

Moving your Soul, like Percival in the legend of the Grail, confronts the shadow, Alzheimer’s, asking WHAT DOES OUR SYSTEM NEED TO BE COMPLETE? and in this journey to the deepest darkness of the soul, we have found a higher message, one which warns that healthy and perfect systems are the ones that make up the light and shade that allow our soul to keep moving. And this is our contribution, to walk between light and shade, reflecting what is needed to make the world more inhabitable, more beautiful”.

Begoña Gutiérrez Ubierna

Thank you

thank you

Since my consciousness started to become autonomous, I began to seek the meaning of my life in literature, music, travelling, in my contact with Nature, getting to know things, people and diverse places, the more different the better, and in the love of the people I have around me.

I was looking for an answer taking for granted that happiness is something you always find along your path first, until some years later I convinced myself I wouldn’t find it there, because what gives meaning to our lives is the path itself, and that meaning is something we find as we walk. In other words, I still didn’t know where to look at, and until long time later I was still looking where I couldn’t find it: outside. And never where it lies, in our animal essence, in our human condition. Inside.

I have come across with famous thinkers afterwards, people who have given words to this feeling:

“The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.”

- Rabindranath Tagore.

”So many people come to me when I talk about purpose and finding meaning in their life, what is it, why it seems to be eluding me [...]. I’ve always felt that the real purpose of life is just to be happy, to enjoy life.”

- Wayne Dyer.

Deep inside me I have always known it: always I have looked for it along my path, the meaning to why I am and why I am here I have always mixed with the pursuit of happiness. However, for those words to have the meaning they have for me today, I have had to make a leap. The impulse comes from the first times I listened to the wisdom that explained the meaning of things. Day in, day out through such expressions as ”We have to feel happy” and the answer to the question, always affirmative: ”Are you happy?”. Getting to know Facundo and seeing the easiness with which that wisdom was part of his everyday life helped me be a little more aware, to change my perspective, and an important tool to face my future.

This text does not intend to explain how it is to connect to somebody with dementia. I just want to share how it was for me to make a connection with him. To do that I had to see through his eyes, the ones of somebody who lives his present moment so intensely. It often meant to return from the antipodes where my chain of thought had taken me. I rememmber moments when I found some resistance, bigger or smaller according to my fears, which were not always conscious and not inmediatedly explainable.

I agree with those who believe that somebody with dementia keeps the essence of who s/he is. I also believe that being in touch with someone who lives his/her present so intensely is a privilege for anyone who finds the space/time to be there and can in exchange collect that gift of peace, wellbeing and happiness, for having connected here and now, something that comes natural if you let it happen.

This text is part of my gratitude for one of the most important, transcendent lessons I have ever received. To someone whom I never met without advanced symptoms of dementia.

Juan Cruz, Madrid, Spain

We are not depressed, just distracted

There is a very inspiring speech of Facundo Cabral that reflects the importance of positive and grateful attitude in life. It’s a good message for facing difficulties, like when we have a family member who is losing memory, or we feel we are getting older and our mind is not so clear, or we are sad because the person we love is no longer as he/she was before …

These are some parts of his brilliant speech:

“You’re not depressed, just distracted. Distracted from the life that inhabits you. You have heart, brain, soul and spirit … then, how can you feel poor and unhappy?

Do not fall into what your father fell, that he feels old because he is seventy, forgetting that Moses led the Exodus to the eighties and Rubinstein played Chopin as anyone at ninety, to mention only two known cases. “

“Sometimes we don’t feel happy, and it is so easy! Just listen to your heart before intervening your head that is conditioned by memory, complicating everything with old things, with orders from the past, prejudices, that chain: the dividing head, that is impoverished, the head does not accept life as it is, but as it should be. Do only what you love and be happy. ”

“We have plenty of things in life to enjoy: the winter snow and spring flowers, the Perugia chocolate, the French baguette, Mexican tacos, Chilean wine seas and rivers, the Brazilian soccer and Chez Davidoff cigars. We can enjoy the Thousand and One Nights, The Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Pedro Paramo, boleros Manzanero and Whitman’s poetry, Mahler, Brahms, Ravel, Debuzzi, Mozart, Schopain, Beethoven, Caravallo, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Cézanne, Picasso and Tamayo among many wonders. ”

You’re not depressed, just distracted …

Fear distracts us from the love that is wise and courageous because when we love, we know that there is neither action nor end, looking in and the clouds disappear from the periphery; be still and silent to listen to your inner wisdom…”

Here you can listen a great part of his speech: You’re not depressed, just distracted

Credit of the picture: Flickr Faungg’s Photo

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Alzheimer’s and personal growth

I never imagined that the most important lessons I would learn from my mother, would be imparted without her even realising it, during the stage of her life dominated by Alzheimer’s.  I am sure she would be surprised too if she knew how much she continues to teach me, from her wheelchair, with her mobility and speech almost gone…

My mother has helped me get to know myself better and every day she shows me my light and my shade without judging me. She invites me to get the very best out of myself and also challenges the most limiting aspects of my personality. An example: that habit of mine of always doing something, of keeping myself active and productive, impatient, always thinking of the next thing to be done.

When I am with her, this doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work because if I want to feel close to her, I must enter into the bubble she inhabits and which is called NOW.  I get to the care home where she lives, I say hello, I search for her eyes, I sit down next to her… and everything stops. Even her afternoon jelly at six becomes an event requiring my total presence.   My mother has taught me that not everything is about Doing, that simply Being is much more important, above all when it comes to creating closeness and intimacy with the people we love.

And this thing that happens to me, this act of confronting my own patterns of behaviour, is what I also see when I hold workshops for relatives of Alzheimer’s patients with the Moving your Soul team.  Other fathers, mothers, spouses, siblings are unwitting teachers of life for these family members that look after them and who, in one way or another, watch over them.

One of them must learn to let go, another to say “I love you”, a third to look after him or herself, or to ask for help… each of us brings to this illness, to this school of life, our own particular notebook, in which we must learn how to write a little better.  To humbly return to the role of student and learn the lessons we didn’t quite get to.

This is why, at Moving Your Soul one of our most fundamental beliefs is:

Opening ourselves up to dementia is also opening ourselves up to the opportunities for personal and relational growth that come with it.

And the fact is that our approach comes from the discipline of coaching, which seeks to unlock the potential of each and every human being, in search of completeness and growth.  Even in the most adverse circumstances of life.

Olga Romanillos

Opening up to Alzheimer´s

It is not easy to accept the diagnosis, and it is hard to digest so many emotions. To witness our loved one gradually deteriorating and losing some of his capabilities can be painful; to know that that person will be eventually depending on us to function, day after day, is a huge emotional and logistical burden hard to bear.

It is not easy.

We acknowledge all the hardness of this complex process. And at the same time, we go a step further: once accepted, we also see Alzheimer’s disease as a great opportunity. A unique opportunity in the hands of the caregiver to grow as a person, to live in a more conscious and fulfilling way, creating new nuances in the relationship with the loved one with dementia and those around him, and ultimately, a precious opportunity to be happier.

When dementia sneaks into our homes, the way we have communicated regularly with our loved one might not work any longer, and it is then when new bridges and channels of communication can be built up, more direct ones, simpler, and why not, maybe even more authentic.

Let us take advantage of our loved one´s forgetfulness to allow ourselves to get rid of old grudges too, to delete differences from the past; because when we are able to see our loved one with a new lens and we dare to present ourselves as we are, then we are creating space for more rewarding, authentic and profound communication.

To open up to Alzheimer’s is to open up to the unknown, to a script yet unwritten, to pain, fear, to our own vulnerability, to the ephemeral nature of our journey through life. It also means to be opened to new experiences, such that we would not even dream of, to the greatness of our loved one which is our own greatness. We will be ultimately embracing life itself, and what it has to offer, and above all, embracing our essence as unique human beings.

Susana García, Moving your Soul