Nancy -Alzheimer’s, dreams and “things”

In sitting meditation you are taught to close your eyes so that you don’t spend your time looking at different things.  This is because the Buddha was teaching you that you should know your own mind.

Fix attention on the breath and imagine that you are sitting alone with nothing around to bother you.

Fix sati (mindfulness) on the in-breaths and the out-breaths.  If the mind is agitated by different things, take a deep, deep breath and exhale slowly until there is nothing there.  It is helpful to count the each breath.

It is interesting with the Alzheimer’s person who no longer can name “things” outside.  Every “thing” becomes the “thing.”  Everyone’s name becomes “Happy”, the one name memorized enough to return to present consciousness.


  • Affair
  • Occurrence
  • Action
  • Whatever is apprehended as having actual, distinct and demonstrable existence
  • That which can be known as having existence in space or time <virtue is not a thing but and attribute of a “thing”
  • being
  • entity
  • individual
  • material, matter, object, stuff, substance

The person with Alzheimer’s does not need to close their eyes.  It is as if their eyes are always closed and yet they continue to look at “things” and the mind becomes agitated.  It is very much like a dream state, where everything and all the people appear REAL.

In a recent dream it was as if I could actually feel the other beings touching me.  As I was speaking to a man in Spanish (Honduras or somewhere like that), his long hair touched my side.  I could feel the hair against my upper arm.  I could feel his breath as he spoke.  Or, did I think I could feel?  It became dark, or maybe it was always dark in the dream because I do in fact have my eyes closed.

Interestingly, Nancy wanders around even in the dark rooms, searching for something. “Things” with “things” in “things”.   Perhaps it is like a dream for her, perpetually DARK, suspended forever in sleep. Sometimes she appears to WAKE UP from the dream and sees and relates to the world around her. She becomes agitated by what things she thinks she see around her.  In a way this could be applied to all of us.

The site of initiation of paradoxical sleep, in the brain stem region may activate the cerebral cortex and trigger the spurious mental events of dreams. “…death is now equated with irreparable damage to the brain stem, even when the higher centers of the cerebral cortex are quite intact.  Without the vital power that drives it, the mind may be suspended forever in sleep,” is suggested by Colin Blakemore in his book “Mechanics of the Mind.”

“The mechanisms of constant perception are built into our brains.  They are either rapidly learned or they are inherited.  The retina of the eye is the canvas of our brain.  If we can conjure every thing that we know of reality from the poverty of its two-dimensional image, why should the artist not use his painting to provoke perceptions just as real?”    -Blakemore


“Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth.” -William Blake

“And what our perception provides us with is this “image of truth”, which we trust as a measure of reality.”    -Blakemore

What the perception of the Alzheimer’s person provides is an “image of truth,” a measure of reality from within and unlike the average, healthy mind of one who experiences the turmoil of moving lights that fill the tiny image within the eyes building a credible world of external objects.

A blind person can see objects through their fingers.  The mind creates and memorizes the objects or “things” because they were felt as solid.

Injury to the occipital and temporal lobes of the cortex, areas of the visual atlas charted by Hermann Munk and Gordon Holmes caused a partial loss of the description of the visual world.

“Damage in one place might abolish color perception alone; in another, the ability to see more than one thing at a time is lost; in another, whole objects cannot be recognized although all their individual parts are seen quite normally.”   (pg. 84 Mechanics of the Mind, Colin Blakemore)   Brain damage can steal the capacity to interpret the concepts of spacial relationship causing a person to become lost in their one home.  Nancy becomes lost.  With Alzheimer’s more and more brain areas show damage as it progresses.

“We still cling to our likes and dislikes.”   -Ajahn Chah

So when Nancy says, “I don’t like that,” is it really because she doesn’t?  Perhaps she been untrue to herself throughout the years, not knowing Self, always being what she thinks she should be.  Now, she doesn’t like a lot of “things.”