A lifelong practice: Yogi Arley Gaines 

Arley MeditationArley (Arlington) Gaines may be confined to a wheelchair, his speech limited by Parkinson’s disease and other ailments, but the 85-year-old still meditates regularly, as he has since he became a Kriya yogi in his 30s.

In fact, his yoga practice is what led Arley to Mission Hospice. While he was being treated at Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, he met fellow yogi and spiritual counselor Rani Ferreira, Mission Hospice Volunteer Coordinator. “Rani and Arley had an immediate and strong connection,” said Arley’s wife Karen, and the two began meditating together in the hospital.

His cardiologist had recommended that Arley begin hospice care, but Karen was reluctant because her mother had a disappointing experience with another hospice program. But the connection with Rani, along with the recommendation of a trusted nurse friend, led Arley and Karen to Mission Hospice, and he entered hospice care in August.

Arley’s care team now includes Rani, along with nurse Naoko Ishikawa, social worker Sara Wolfowitz, home health aide Mitch Park, volunteer Michael Diane San Felipe, and physician Shelley Salpeter.

Both Karen and Arley are very pleased that he can receive such wonderful care in their Foster City home. “Mission Hospice helps with so much more than I had expected,” Karen said. “Because the team is taking such good care of Arley, I can take care of myself,” Karen said, including having time to volunteer with a local herd of camels, her life’s passion. Michael, also a yogi, supports Arley in his spiritual practices several hours each week.

Arley began yoga practice during the 1960s, after having earned a Purple Heart as a paratrooper during the Korean War and a degree in English at the University of Texas in El Paso. He worked as a technical writer in the aerospace industry, including a three-year assignment in Iran teaching technical writing to local engineers – people he so enjoyed that he wrote a collection of short stories about his adventures.

K&A_Tulum_2011He and Karen met in 1978 when she was his publications manager at Lockheed. “On our first date, I felt very comfortable and at ease with him, like I had known him a long time,” Karen recalled. “He was a gentleman, a romantic, like in the days of King Arthur.” They were married in 1981.

As he confronts the challenges at this time in his life, Arley says his meditation practice has helped him immensely in maintaining his serenity. Rani explained, “We learn that we come into this incarnation to learn certain lessons, and though God gives us as many incarnations as we need to learn them, we try to align our actions with our beliefs. Arley has probably been doing that for the last 50 years!”

Arley grinned and heartily affirmed, “Yes!”