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Health Matters, Matters of the Spirit, Mental Health

Beyond The Clock Test

ifyoudontI was inspired to write this after being over at The Chatter Blog, where Colleen wrote a lovely post called ‘The Clock Test’. The Clock Test is a simple diagnostic evaluation that is used by psychologists as a screening tool to assess a patient for dementia. Colleen’s job exposes her to the patients who undergo these tests, and she expresses real sadness at having to watch as people who were once mentally agile, struggle to understand and follow simple instructions. What hurts Colleen even more, is having to observe these vulnerable aged people when they reach a point where they barely have any recognition of themselves or their family members. She perceives something dreadful occurring before her eyes; she sees a loss of the personality, a loss of personal dignity and feels helpless in the face of such encounters. Dementia is a deeply painful experience for family members to witness in their loved ones, since they are enduring the gradual departure of a personality they have loved, and often the process is accompanied by dangerous (mostly to themselves), erratic behaviours that require that the patient be under constant observation. I’ve seen this phenomenon in my own elderly family members, but have a completely different view of the situation.

This post is not about dementia itself, although I use it as a reference; it is about looking at life from different viewpoints and questioning our current beliefs in order to reduce our suffering. And to look at life from a different perspective, we have to acknowledge that our current view is limited by both our unexplored beliefs, and by our refusal to wake up and observe life for what it really is. From the moment we are born, beliefs are foisted upon us. This is not always a bad thing. We need certain beliefs to give structure and purpose to our existence. Without these beliefs we wouldn’t exist. What limits us, what makes us suffer, is our continued adherence to beliefs that clearly bring pain into our human experience.

When we suffer over anything, it is because we are looking through the lens of a belief that has no truth to it. Life is not meant to be painful; it is our beliefs that make it so. Colleen and a lot of other people suffer pain because they believe that these dementia patients are losing something, yet most are in advanced age, and are clearly in transition from this life to the next. Why do I say they are clearly in transition? Because I have observed it, and read a lot of other accounts of people who have experienced the same thing with their own relatives. Over time, I have developed the habit of challenging popular belief, and when it came to my experience with dementia, I didn’t believe the widely-held idea that my own family members were losing their faculties or losing their dignity. I witnessed (because I observed the things they were saying and doing) that something entirely different was happening. I saw that they had transferred their point of focus from this world to another, that they were preparing for something new.  In watching and listening to my family members, and without being influenced by ideas of them being ‘mentally ill’, there appeared to be a period of time in which they were undergoing some sort of life review. In the confusion of being in the still-living physical body and their point of focus being elsewhere, they would wander off to visit their childhood friends (long-dead), and as a result, end up lost and disoriented as they were rescued by neighbours. They would also begin talking to people they had known years before, people who were not even in the room with those of us sitting there. Doctors would say they were ‘hallucinating’, but I’ve learned that this is just a term they use because they have little understanding of how human beings are able to actually interact with other dimensions of reality. My transitioning family members would not recognize me or their closest relatives. Sometimes they would become violent, since they were revisiting some painful past moment in which some aspect of themselves had to be resolved. They would be rude and act in some offensive manner, re-playing an ancient confrontation. Often they would get depressed, since depression is an indicator that change is ahead, and the patient not yet ready to confront transition. If we view dementia from this perspective, we will see so clearly how people in this condition are shifting from one world to the next. We will see just why they are no longer functioning in this world.

There exist many native cultures the world over that refer to dementia as a state in which the person’s spirit has partially transitioned to the other world, and the body remaining until the time to fully vacate arrives. I saw this myself with an aunt who was making her transition through dementia. The ‘delay’ is attributed to the intricate nature of family relationships. Sometimes there is something for all family members to learn in the process. Sometimes some family members have trouble letting go of the person with dementia, or the patients themselves are afraid of the journey ahead, and need time to transition. In native cultures, it is the caregiver’s job to take care of the body until the patient is ready to leave. This is a sacred undertaking wherein the caregiver feels privileged to be close to the world of spirit and the entire situation is considered to be a highly regarded, deeply spiritual position for the whole family to find themselves in.

I felt sad when I read Colleens article, because she is a woman who cares deeply about people. I want her, and especially people who are dealing with family members with dementia, to shift their viewpoint for a moment, and give themselves pause to question their current beliefs.  Mostly, I’d like people who are currently suffering in their lives, to ask themselves what belief it is that is causing them to feel the way that they do. It isn’t an easy process, and the pain doesn’t leave us overnight. But to embark on the journey of questioning everything we believe in, is the beginning of the critical process of awakening to the truth about life.

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About Yaz

Hi Everyone! Please check out my site. There you'll find a range of subjects on which I've expressed my world view. I always challenge myself and others to move out of their point of view and try seeing things from another perspective. Your point of view will always be there if you don't like mine! And I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you'll shift something in me. This is the journey to the True Self and I love it. Lots of love to you all!

Discussion

13 thoughts on “Beyond The Clock Test

  1. Yaz, this is certainly a perspective I’d never heard of before. You always challenge me to think waaaay outside my box. Thank you for that. It’s refreshing.

    Posted by Denise Hisey | February 18, 2013, 2:04 am
  2. Yaz I think I do believe this transitioning. What I see, I see because of my job. Which makes it difficult, because I have to witness and often act on these tests because no one else is. I get calls when persons with dementia/Alzheimer’s (or physical declines) are being physically, emotionally, financially neglected and/or abused. Even if it is “self neglect” where the person we see is incapable of providing for their needs while here. When we get these calls, the additionally difficult part is that there are no family or caregivers and this person is living here still, and not living well. Or, even worse, there IS family and/or caregivers and they are NOT providing the care and often times exploiting the persons condition and situation while neglecting them.

    I will say that there have been times when it has been a gift that the person is not able to understand or connect to what is happening to them “here” by people who should be caring for them.

    And knowing they are transitioning…believing it, gives me some comfort as a human having to bear witness to this. But not always. I will try applying this and see how it makes a difference.

    Posted by Chatter Master | February 18, 2013, 4:32 am
  3. I love your take on this. I have only known one person with Alzheimer’s and he was no trouble. He just repeated his questions (which were not relevant the first time) over and over. I like to think that if I go this way, I will be the happy one, oblivious to all around me and that my family do what they need to do, in order to live their own lives. How exciting transitioning to something much better without yet leaving. But no-one wants to be a burden. If I come across this in people or movies, I will look out for the transition. What a lovely thought. Great post.

    Posted by Joy is now | February 18, 2013, 10:06 am
  4. I appreciated reading your views and thoughts on dementia Yaz. I have only known of one person to have had dementia. It certainly is a way to check-out of our world, to dis-connect while still being in a physical body that is alive sometimes for many years.

    Posted by Suzanne McRae | February 20, 2013, 4:46 am
  5. What a lovely post inspired by Colleen’s, and then directed to Colleen in the end.

    I’ve been waiting for you to write again, Yaz. I like your insights, views, perspectives. You never know where inspiration will come from… and then you spin it so well.

    Glad to see you out here. 🙂 N.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | February 23, 2013, 3:38 pm
  6. Absolutely Yaz… my thoughts were with your as I began to read about this caretakers beliefs affecting her perception. The Hopi Indians believe it takes the soul 7 years to incarnate into the physical body. I don’t know if others are aware of the belief that the soul will hover around the mothers womb until closer to the birth because It can get ‘boring’ in there :). When my great niece was born I LOVED observing, just from the other side I wanted to, with out harming her, observe what ‘she’ was seeing and how she was being in this ‘floaty’ state of existing here and being in her body to a degree. Wow how amazing to be around her, in some ways it ws like she was an alien being because she didn’t speak english for a long time and yet we had such adventurous moments so filled with love and excitement to explore this world through her eye’s. I was amazed at how well we communicated with love vs. words and maybe we should all try this more often…. My father came to me one night in a dream and explained how we leave a portion at a time, he said it is like a file cabinet and one or two folders will go over and then gradually all of them in time. Just as children have no concept of ‘time’ for a long time…. thus some parents minutes can turn into an hour of goodbye’s. I explained this too my mother as well and father that we leave like we come in a fragment or two at a time and its ok. If we understand this vs. going into fear about it, everyone will be more comfortable with the process. All of your words were right on, my dad was in pain post christmas, having leg right leg pain and thinking of his father, perhaps grieving still his loss that he got to busy to do living in a world where the pace can eliminate time for feeling feelings and processing changes and connecting perhaps to the pain of his dad leaving when he is now a dad who is leaving as well. And yes they are floating to the other dimensions and connecting with loved ones they haven’t seen in perhaps awhile AND leaving those they love here. My Soulmate graduated recently and I observed his process, it is similar to change on earth and moving to a new environment. What I’ve also found is like in the notebook, I think my parents and aunt can be come clear and present in my grounded energy, I just observe them doing so well. I send them daily support energy to help the transition be as comfortable as possible.
    We also have to be careful with our projecting beliefs as I believe we can cause someone to behave as we believe they are going to as well. Thank you so much Yaz. and the reminder to examine why am I ‘suffering’ or in pain about something – belief examination is a great tool to change our experiences. Thanks Yaz… much love to you and your thoughts are GREAT! 🙂

    Posted by Erica Leighten | February 24, 2013, 11:46 pm
    • Erica, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about entering this world and exiting this world… like one or two file folders at a time (or one or two fragments at a time). It makes so much sense. I will never look at death the same again. Thank you for this explanation and great visual. I have an uncle who passed last fall, and to have heard his family describe what the week before was like for him and it reminded me of this. He was re-connecting with his loved ones who had departed years prior, preparing himself as he let go of his family here on earth. When we can look at it this way it is exactly as it was intended, and a beautiful process. Blessings!

      Posted by Suzanne McRae | February 26, 2013, 3:50 pm
  7. A frien’s husband is in care suffering with dementia. I will pass on your theroy as it is a positive comforting way to view a usually distressing problem. It is also logical and to beleive in it would be a comfort, just to rase the posibility may help.

    Posted by jacksjottings | March 3, 2013, 6:59 am
  8. I’m glad to have found my way here to read this post. I whole-heartedly agree. My father danced with dementia for several years and it was very clear to me this was a prolonged state of transitioning. Having been with numerous people as they’ve crossed over, this transitional state can be a profoundly sacred time to witness. When it occurs over a longer period, such as with dementia, those who are witnessing their beloved’s transition hold the tenderness of what will be leaving their life for a longer time. But whether transition is quick or slow it can offer the great gift of heart opening for all who choose it.

    Posted by Deborah Weber | March 5, 2013, 11:43 pm
  9. Ah Yaz, wish you were writing more these days as you always do choice articles.

    I understand when you don’t of course – life, life, but just love it when you do.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | March 17, 2013, 4:05 am
  10. Happy October, my friend!

    May this month be a beautiful and inspiring one for you and your loved ones!

    Take care, be well, always~ Cheers!! 😀

    Posted by BeWithUs | October 1, 2013, 11:18 am

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