“No matter how busy we are, we can bring simple contemplative elements into our caregiving practice that will help us to follow the dying person’s lead and to give no fear. Sharing practice or prayer, silence and presence, with a dying person also services the caregiver’s well-being. When you find yourself caught up in the events around you or in your own hope and fear, slow down. Even stop. Cultivate the habit of attending to the breath continually; use the breath to stabilize and concentrate the mind.”
~~ Roshi Joan Halifax, Being with Dying
No matter how long you practice, there are times that your breath gets caught… sometimes we find ourselves gasping, sometimes holding our breath… we forget how stabilizing our breath is and how it is the “stuff” of life.
I find myself at work, shoulders scrunched up, after counting data and updating excel spreadsheets for hours. I realize several things…
I’ve not seen another human for a while.
I’ve not seen anything green for some time.
I’m slumped over and my heart is contracted.
I’m barely breathing.
At that time, I don’t need a chime to go off. It’s too late and just the right time. It time to let my shoulders drop. Let my heart open up.
Close my eyes… walk away from the graphs and spreadsheets and do something in like child’s pose or downward facing dog to bring myself back to my center.
It’s time to pick up one of the two Dharma books on my desk and read a sentence or two and remind myself that this moment is a gift. It is the only thing that matters and I can let it pass by mindlessly or I can attend to it.
Knowing that we only have so many moments in each of our lifetimes, do we really want to let one go by without savoring it with a deep, slow breath?
As caregivers, we often forget ourselves … we’re not always 100% present to the one before us but maybe we are caught up in all of the tasks that are required… caregiving is hard work… but if spirituality is about chopping wood, carrying water, and washing dishes, than what a great gift caregiving is to us… to attend to “the baby buddha” that is within the person who we are caring for…
And if the person before us is a buddha, how do we want to meet the Buddha? Too busy to say hello as we walk in the door? Too busy looking for the pail to empty? Or do we want to meet heart to heart, breath after breath, at the deepest level that we will allow ourselves and they will allow us to meet at?
- Roshi Halifax: What are you willing to do to die the way you want to die? (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Have You Had THE Conversation? Here is mine… (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Presence and Support (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Unity Consciousness (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Meditation on the Preparation for Dying…. (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Common Reactions to Grief: Physical (namasteconsultinginc.com)