About nine years ago my mom had a stroke that damaged the part of her brain responsible for short term memory.
Initially, she was aware that her memory was not so good. She used to say that she had CRS, Can't Remember Shit. Over time her CRS developed into what the doctor's called MCI. Mild cognitive impairment.
I remember selfishly thinking, "MILD cognitive impairment! It's not mild! She's not like she used to be, she can't give me advice or listen to my problems, she can't even remember my kid's birthdays! I want my old mom back!"
My "new mom" remembered her family and friends, but didn't have have the brain function to replay a conversation over and over in her head and discuss her ideas about it. She also didn't have the ability create a story in her mind about some future thing that might happen. This took away her capacity to get upset about an argument that she had with my dad or get scared about the fact that she didn't know what tomorrow might bring. In other words, my new mom could only live in the moment. When the moment passed, she couldn't grab onto it hoping that it would stay or regret it when was gone.
My new mom could only be PRESENT. Every experience became a new one, unencumbered by old ideas, thoughts, judgements, memories or anticipations. This gave her an essence of peacefulness.
Recently, I realized and accepted that this is actually a good thing. In fact, it's something that many spiritual teachers encourage us to aspire to.
Thich Nat Hahn, a Zen Buddhist says , "To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water, the miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment and appreciate the beauty and peace that is available now."
Being in the present moment deepens our understanding of what is going on and then we can be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.
When the moment comes, we should receive it and when it passes, we need to let it go.....
In yoga philosophy, we learn that it is our attachment to and inacceptance of the impermanance of all things that causes us to suffer. The sooner we learn to accept and embrace that EVERYTHING changes, the more peaceful we will be.
I call my mom an inadvertent Zen Buddhist because she didn't have to work to get to this state of peacefullness. It just happened to her.
If I let go of my need to keep everything the same as it was, I can accept that my new mom is a gift. She still remembers that the blue sky is beautiful, a flower smells nice, chocolate tastes delicious, and her grandchildren are perfect. The most important parts of living are not lost on her.
When she sings, "Good morning to you, good morning to you, we're all in our places, with bright shining faces and that is the way to start a new day!" to passersby in the mall, even the most distracted person will stop what they are doing and come to the present moment to listen to this beautiful lady singing a joyful song to them.
Although she can be a handful for my truly loving and patient father, and my very committed sisters who take care of her, the happiness that she spreads to strangers and friends alike is quite amazing.
The last time that my parents were visiting, I was reading a book on mindfulness while my mom sat on the couch next to me. I looked up from my book and she was just sitting there smiling. We looked at each other and started to giggle.
When I looked back down at my book, I saw this quote by Thich Nat Hahn.
"Breathing in, there is only the present moment, breathing out, it is a wonderful moment." I will never forget THAT moment, but I will learn from my mom and let it pass by without clinging to it accepting with as much grace as I can that a moment as sweet as that may or may not ever happen again.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras