Colorful Caregiver Meds


I tend to pay attention when a concept (e.g. a book or movie title or a travel destination) keeps surfacing especially when my legs tingle or the idea comes to me via three different avenues.

This summer my husband Rob had his bladder removed. During his surgery, week in the hospital and early recovery time at home, I was grateful to have stumbled upon a free 21-day e-series of guided meditations. Each was 20 minutes long and I was disciplined about listening every day. Well, usually I found such deep peace (some might call it sleep) that I don’t remember any of the guidance in terms of the words that were said.  I noticed that this form of resting was ideal for me at the time.

When our new reality began to set in and those free online meds ended, I continued my long-standing practice of journaling without fail but I was completely distracted during what might be labeled “Stillness.” I was not drawn to my usual mindfulness practice in the least. While I had finally learned to enjoy these quiet times no matter what happened during my 10 to 30 minutes of meditation (including falling asleep), I was disappointed to have no discipline whatsoever to simply come to the chair. Having taught these practices in our public schools for years before my (new-this-Fall) retirement, I knew that the welcome sense of calmness would be elusive without steady practice. I missed the stillness and I beat myself up too. Where was my self-compassion during this surreal, sad time?

Then, I attended one cancer caregiver support meeting about guided visualization. The facilitator led us through a body scan calling up colors associated with the chakras. I found myself anticipating the next color of the rainbow using the acronym ROY G BIV (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet). Rob had taught it to me years ago.

When our leader asked, “What happened during the visualization that you would like to share?”, my first thought was that for a change I wasn’t thinking at all about Rob and his cancer. However I was thinking about Rob and colors with great appreciation.

After group sharing, the trainer suggested we try to remember a fond memory from the past—fond as in “good,” “happy”—because next we would be imagining a place we could recreate and revisit whenever we wanted or needed to.  Immediately I wondered, “Could I possibly remember the very first time Rob taught me about our friend, Roy. Our house-haunting 30 years ago sprang to mind. I dressed up as the rainbow and Rob was my pot of gold. We invited everyone we knew to come over and help us bless our new home on Halloween night. I closed my eyes and the facilitator led me right back there.

When I came home after the session, I downloaded every free application I could find. This would be my way back to Still Calmness with the help of mentors, alpha-wave music and guided imagery. I would find deep and steady peace within myself again.

And the colors would continue flying at me. The second color blast came from a friend in the form of a beautiful “metta” prayer composed for Rob. Now it’s posted on my blog as one of the August Prayers.

And what do you know? I learned yesterday that this year’s prompt for our introductions during my theology class is COLORS. I will be telling my spiritual autobiography with Roy’s help again, perhaps adding a lot of colors to my journal and then painting using my new easel. Who knows whatever else will come my way given the bright rainbows within and around me.

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