In these IDG reflections, in the middle of our healthcare workday,
my intention is to offer useful pointers and effective methods to remember the circle of care… which we are a part of… and to midwife that wholistic care into the present moment - no matter what is in front of us.
They are a better remembering… to what we already know but as human beings we forget. We are better and healthcare is better when we care for ourselves, as much as we do our patients…. (or how about this... as we care for our patients on our good days...) because it can be quite challenging in these trenches of caring.
One of my basic tools are the Buddhist concepts of the NEAR ENEMIES. This balance a spiritual-secular check list… because we live on the edge of worlds in hospice and palliative care… and even in healthcare. Life is uncertain. We are better able to meet it when WE are balanced.
If we don’t recognize these near enemies, it will deaden us… our lives and our care.
There are several Near Enemies but I will review four.
1. Loving kindness and attachment
2. Empathy and pity
3. Sympathetic joy and comparison
4. Equanimity and indifference
If we don’t recognize this near enemies, it will deaden us… our lives and our care.
I end with a Native American Prayer… which is deeply interwoven with nature…
May all that I say
and all that I do
be in harmony with thee.
God within us,
God beyond us,
Maker of the Trees.
Blessings on your day, week, patients and your own good self,
Garden of Change IDG 3 min. Self-Sustaining Staff Reflections WWW.GardenofChange.Org
Offering head, heart, body, & spirit staff-care for healthcare workers in disciplined 3 min reflections… because what we do is hard. Each day we work on the edge of the medical model and walk with our patients to the edge of the Great Mystery. It takes daily self-sustaining practices to stay the course.
Garden of Change also offers branded bereavement mailings for mandates by MCoP/CMS 13 month aftercare.
The mind and body connection was newly documented last month in an article from NATURE.
How we move has an impact on how we feel... and how we feel is going to have an impact on how we move.
• Breathe in: calming your body.
• Breathe out: smiling
The motor cortex was found to be interwoven: with body-controlling mechanisms connected to organs, connected to your to-do lists. The data says that if stand up straight, you'll feel better… (Does that sound like a good mother?)
Textbooks previously showed an unbroken ribbon of cortex, with segments devoted to specific muscle groups, like the tongue or a toe. But scientists were seeing areas between these segments that were not in textbooks, and these areas were not controlling muscles. It's a checkerboard pattern. Specific body parts-like your fingers and your hand, were integrated essentially in the whole-body action.
The interleaved system probably helps explain the mysterious connection between what's going on in our bodies and what's going on in brain areas involved in thoughts and emotions. The region that controls your finger is connected to a region that has something to do with like, what am I going to do today…
This very non-linear connectivity gives us real power over our reactions of stress to any situation before us… If how we feel is related to how we move and how we move is related to how we feel…then we have a powerful tool for feeling better… now.
We are connected in mystery and a miracle.
Here is Thich Nhat Hahn’s directions again for mindful breathing. You have to breathe anyway…. so it takes no longer to breathe mindfully:
• Breathe in: think of calming your body.
• Breathe out: actually smiling
When I do this, I find that smiling is viral… it spreads throughout my body. It changes me and … that changes the room.
Garden of Change IDG 3 min. Self-Sustaining Staff Reflections WWW.GardenofChange.Org
Offering head, heart & body staff-care for healthcare workers in disciplined 3 min reflections… because what we do is hard. Each day we work on the edge of the medical model and walk with our pt to the edge of the Great Mystery. It takes daily self-sustaining practices to stay the course.
Garden of Change offers branded bereavement mailings for mandates by MCoP/CMS 13 month aftercare.
Small Steps & the Donkey
Doing the next right step, even if small…, accumulates… and can change things in a big way… much like the way a small navigational correction early on a space mission could mean the difference between landing on the moon and missing it…
In providing comfort in healthcare, we see our hospice patients at the end of their lives, and frequently we are powerless to remove their pain… completely even with good meds.
Because some pain cannot be reached with medications… the unforgiven and unreconciled stories that THEY have lived …are many times… laid open before us at bedside…
It may even trigger some of our own human… and unreconciled stories that feel similar…which is normal.
Some pt have the fullness of a loving family, which they have grown … or by grace stumbled upon… or perhaps they have lived a life where we are the only people left to stand with them…
The IDG team has many capabilities … due to our inter-disciplinary professions, but we can only do so much… AND THERE is …a beautiful healing power is simply standing with them…no matter what. This is the POWER OF NOT-DOING… JUST BEING.
This ACCEPTANCE of “what is” , even when we cannot see beyond it… is key to comfort when facing down the Great Mystery at the end of life… ….
To summarize our IDG superpowers: … knowing what is yours to do - even if a small step…,,, doing it, and,,, accepting the situation as it is …because it is beyond our ability to fix
There was a farmer whose prize donkey fell into a DRY well. It was a deep well and it brayed and brayed calling for help. The farmer was a fellow of modest means - he didn’t have a clue as to how to save the donkey. He was sad but What COULD HE DO?
He decided that he could do something about the dangerous dry well…So he started with a shovel full of dirt, and kept up. He invited his neighbors to help with any fill that they did not need. Everyone had something, and little by little they filled up the well… and when it was complete, the donkey stepped out and went about her business.
That one step that we can do, that is ours to do,,, that one shovel full, is always within OUR POWER …DO NOT doubt the power of that small step…… because it adds up, to great power…
In hospice and palliative care, we walk with our patients as they are… mid -loss. At the EOL, there are a lot of goodbyes. That’s just he way it is.
We all, as a team, flavored with our different disciplines, to our best to offer comfort, kindness and love. We all approach it differently, but that is the work. To offer comfort, kindness and love into the losses.
But loss is a life long process. We practice every day in the letting go of control… which we realize we don’t have… or don’t have much.
We - in our own ways- and in small steps - surrender to the Higher and the Mystery… each day. And if we are wise, we let go of what is NOT working… and do more of what is working in our lives… toward our needs for comfort, kindness and love.
We all do this. It is all we can do because we are up against the early vicissitudes.
All we can do is cultivate, in ourselves and inner patients, a willingness to deepen into the losses and the mysteries that well up through the cracks in our lives… and we all have cracks in our human plans… from time to them. It’s just the way it is.
Poem by William Stafford: The Way It Is
There's a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
Don’t let go of that thread; do more of what is working.
Blessings and thank you.
Surely, we belong to Allah…
and to Allah shall we return.
Do I just call god, GOD? It leaves out many who are wounded by religion…
And triggers others.
My favorite name for god is THE MAKER OF ALL THINGS.
It implies so much healing…in the name
That time, illness and death are on all part of a return journey to SOURCE.
It avoids thinking that Death is something broken… that we must FIX.
Our hospice team members in all our professions… provide comfort. We do not fix.
I am sure you all have stories of providing care and them people blurt out things
That … under normal circumstances they would never say… or have never voiced..
We all have our unique medicines for these situations… to ease pain… but the biggest one in all
Our arsenals is listening. Being a witness to pain and holding it in a way that
Shows them that they are not broken… just human beings… on a spiritual journey.
My week was full of that… reflecting back to several bereaved caregivers or widowers…
that they are not BROKEN.
They may have unfinished business that they can address, or not
…but it is all part of their journey,
I cannot force them… we cannot force them.
Hospice is about comfort.
Death is not a brokenness
No matter how it hurts, healing is possible… not fixing but healing.
We do it with good listening… yes.. and maybe good drugs too
But dont forget your UNIVERSAL superpower is listening with love and acceptance.
Being witness to their pain, and holding it gently
BUT NOT claiming it for your own.
Let it go.
Give it to the maker of all things.
To close here is Hafiz
I used to know my name.
Now I don’t. I think a river understands me.
For what does it call itself in that blessed moment
when it starts emptying into the Infinite Luminous Sea,
and opening every aspect of self wider than it ever thought possible?
Each drop of itself now running to embrace
and unite with a million new friends.
And you were there, in my union with All.
–Hafiz Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Offered as part of an IDG Reflection Series by Garden of Change.org
Use freely, as inspiration for your IDT/IDG teams, or simply as self support. Attribution is appreciated.
Drop us a line and let us know how you do. firstname.lastname@example.org
IDG Reflection No. 13: NOTHING BROKEN
Springtime's Weeding & Feeding (Advent's Seasonal Renewal...)
Well it’s spring... (at least in California...)
I can see it with my eyes... in the blooming of Bradford pears and the Purple plum trees... and the green green grass which has benefitted from so much rain.
But my body (and sinuses) are telling me, too.
Spring is about renewal, and planting more of what we want... but as in every life, we need to let go of that which is NOT working.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday - the first day of ADVENT where we start to think about what renewal looks like for us. Maybe we give something up for the next 40 days... or Maybe we claim some new life-affirming habit.
But Renewal is in the air.
Like a garden, we can’t grow everything all at once. We have to weed...
What do I want to grow? What is mine to do? What’s working... and what is NOT working?
These are big Life and death questions for life as it happens...
Every human beings needs to find fresh new ground...To plant more of what is working.
Its true with us ... we need to address unfinished business - Unfinished business and unfinished relationships can have a serious negative impact on our live in the present day.
FOR those us of in Healthcare, our patients too - even when facing the EOL, need to address unfinished business... so they might be ready for whatever’s next - the great sleep, the Great Mystery...or the Maker of All Things.
These are the BIG EVERGREEN issues at EOL and just for a GOOD LIFE:
- I Forgive you
- I love you
- I’m sorry and...
- Thank you.
Click here for a PDF Text of this offering - Use it as it works for your team. Or check out the YouTube Video.
Breath as Medicine
Breath is medicine for better health, life and better patient care. This three minute reflection sets the tone for your IDG meeting, to be thoughtful amid the secular pressures of EOL and palliative pain management, and that we, the healthcare staff and leadership, are part of the circle of care.
It ends with a short Hafiz poem about breath and music.
IDG 3 Min. Staff Reflection: The Value of Listening
They are free for your use. Drop us a line. Let us know how it worked for you.
Rev. Eleesabeth Hager
Why support staff with a IDG reflection?
The lessons of Winter are in the soil, which sleeps. It composts what is no longer useful. Let go of those ideas and notions that no longer serve is good gardening.
Here is a 3 1/2 minute audio for your IDG with a word document attached for your MSW, or chaplain or Adminstrator to read.
More will be posted to keep us resilient now and in the new year – for ourselves and our patients.
This serial caregiver was exhausted, overwhelmed and moving toward burnout.
I got it...because I was it. She was on the tipping point into resentment from simply being willing. Our conversation eased her off the ledge because her feelings were reasonable and common ... but they were new to her. They were troubling because love isn't suppose to feel that way but overwhelm always feels that way.
Here is my patient's Happy Valentines Day 2022 gift to you today:
May you be be surprised by the love...that loves you back.
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