Diane and Donna work in elder-care, and want to deepen their knowledge and experience of meditation to share with co-workers and patients. Diane and I have been meditating together for four years, and she recently attended the World Caring Conference. Today she brought friend and co-worker Donna, to learn ‘the art of inner listening’ for more joy in life.
Diane: ‘Mindfulness helps me to be aware of how in the past I was all about pleasing patients, now I realize it’s more important for me not to be enabling. To be more authentic. I try to fully be there for my patients, in that 5 minutes we spend together…not distracted, or hurried. And I find that five minutes makes a huge difference.’
‘Meditation strengthens intuition. Here’s how it works on the job. Sometimes I get an intuition when I scan my patient list, ‘go to that room,’ and I’ll go there, realizing later that person really needed me. I have to use my intuition because there’s not enough time to do this demanding job in an organized way. I’m far more effective using intuition and have learned to listen and trust that.’
I love being able to see the spirit in my patients and interacting on that level. Using love as the language.
Diane: “When I do my initial patient contact: ‘Good morning, I’m your nurse, what can I assist you with?’ Getting them a fresh towel, an ice pack, this really seems to ‘fill their cup.’ If you rush your assessment ‘well, I gotta go help other patients,”’they’re like little kids, they feel we’re not there for them.”
Donna: ‘You can’t out-organize your job. Being flexible, intuitive and open to change is how we can work in an environment when there is nothing ‘routine!’ ‘Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. I put myself last because I feel I have to take care of everyone else, that’s my perception and how I was raised. And I’m tired!
I was the oldest and think that’s an inherent trait…to take care of everyone. Now I’m learning that I have to make happiness happen. This morning in the meditation I was laughing and crying at the same time. For some reason I feel I don’t deserve happiness. That’s because I don’t know what it is. My greatest happiness came when I designed my life. And now I’m committed to start designing my life again.
Caring for someone else gave me an empowering feeling.
One of my first experiences that led me into feeling a deep sense of care for others came when I was 11 years old. A friend of mine and I were riding a banana bike, and she got her heel caught in the spokes. I ran in an got some tissue paper to wipe up the blood. Of course, I was thinking I got the wrong thing to wipe it with since the tissue stuck to her wound, but was going to take care of my friend, even though my mom, who was there, was a nurse. The caring for someone else gave me an empowering feeling, it’s the perfection part that always tells me ‘you didn’t do it right.’ So now I’m becoming more aware of how that perfection creates so much discomfort. The forgiveness piece is to allow yourself to not be perfect. To let go and say ‘it’s no big deal, I can’t do everything right.’
Tara: Do you think there’s a perfect person?
Donna: No, I don’t think there’s a perfect person. My mind is very strong, and I need to look at my thoughts and let them go, and use that strong mind for more positive intentions.
Diane: Caring, if it’s missing…well, it’s a such crucial component. Jean’s written many books about the ‘science of caring.’ At the WCC, I attended a conference on death and dying. The best take-away was experience was with Tarron Estes, founder of Elderspa
. She brought us through death in a dignified way. We practiced dying with a meditation. All the nurses worked one-on-one. We created a sacred space. The person going through the death experience chose three affirmations they wanted me to read. Some examples: ‘I’m meeting my Creator.” “I’m going to the light.” “I’m letting go of all earthy burdens.”
In this experience, I actually left,” said Diane, experiencing what it was like to let go. I was a bird flying over the ocean, completely free. I realized death can be beautiful. Now when I’m with people who are dying or family members, I’m not exuding fear. I feel “how can I assist you? What can we help you with?” Heart-centered communication and compassion. Letting go the fear of death.