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Thread: Two Wonderful Articles: Care for Caregivers / Saying Yes

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  1. #1

    Two Wonderful Articles: Care for Caregivers / Saying Yes

    Hi,

    I was catching up on an old Buddhadharma magazine, and came across a couple of wonderful articles. Both are by Insight/Mindfulness Teachers, but just as appropriate for our Practice here.

    The first is by the great Sharon Salzberg, where she introduces a simple Practice and Re-minder for all the people struggling to change the world ... or just something in life ... or dealing with a difficult task such as nursing a sick loved one needing constant care ... with all the pain and frustrations that typically involves ...

    ===============================

    When I led a retreat at the Insight Meditation Society especially for caregivers ... we had mothers and fathers and spouses and nurses and hospice workers and sons and daughters and therapists and chaplains and medics and so many more. What was so striking to me, along with the evident fatigue many felt, was how often they regarded their service, however difficult or frustrating, as a privilege. It was a beautiful testament to their hearts. It also struck me that for anyone in a continuing caregiving role, even though they have all the goodheartedness in the world, burnout is the specter that hovers close.

    Some years ago, on the request of Roshi Joan Halifax, I wrote the following loving-kindness meditation especially for caregivers, in honor of their incredible work, and it was published in my book, The Kindness Handbook.

    Whether you care for a young child, an aging parent, a rambunctious teenager, a client at work who feels helpless, any skillful relationship of caregiving relies on balance—the balance between opening one’s heart endlessly and accepting the limits of what one can do. The balance between compassion and equanimity. Compassion is the trembling or the quivering of the heart in response to suffering. Equanimity is a spacious stillness that can accept things as they are. The balance of compassion and equanimity allows us to care, and yet not get overwhelmed and unable to cope because of that caring.

    The phrases we use reflect this balance. Choose one or two phrases that are personally meaningful to you. There are some options offered below. You can alter them in any way, or use others that you have created out of their unique personal significance.

    To begin the practice, take as comfortable a position as possible, sitting or lying down. Take a few deep soft breaths to let your body settle. Bring your attention to your breath, and begin to silently say your chosen phrases over and over again, in rhythm with the breath… You can also experiment with just having your attention settle in the phrases, without using the anchor of the breath. Feel the meaning of what you are saying, yet without trying to force anything. Let the practice carry you along.

    May I offer my care and presence without conditions, knowing they may be met by gratitude, anger or indifference.
    May I find the inner resources to truly be able to give.
    May I remain in peace, and let go of expectations.
    May I offer love, knowing I can’t control the course of life, suffering or death.
    I care about your pain, yet cannot control it.
    I wish you happiness and peace, but cannot make your choices for you.
    May I see my limits compassionately, just as I view the limitations of others.


    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...rself-too.html
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    The second article is by Diana Winston, and is a simple, elegant statement of saying "YES" to whatever is ... a Teaching so much at the heart of Shikantaza as well ...

    Lovely ...

    ====================

    First you start out on the cushion (or chair for the less pretzelly inclined) and you attend to your present moment experience, no matter what it is—good, bad, or ugly. And as you practice and get some skill—“Hey I can sit here and be okay in the midst of knee pain, in the midst of my aching back, my frayed nerves”—then you realize just this: the capacity to be mindful means having an open heart. It’s not a theory, it’s a heart/body-felt insight.

    Why is this so? Because as you sit there, hour after hour, you learn to say yes. Yes to your jagged breathing, yes to your itchy scalp. Yes to the leaf blower dude across the street, yes to your grief and pain and shame and grandiosity and fear. Not because you want to act on these things, but because they’re true, and fleeting, and simply part of who you are (but not the half of who you really are). Your nervous system begins to relax—at last you’re acknowledging the truth of things.

    You say yes to your pride, your stupidity, your murderous rage. Naturally you don’t act on your murderous rage, but you allow it to be true within you. It is a very inclusive practice. Nothing is ever left out.

    You discover that if you are pushing away your experience, even ever so slightly, your mindfulness is not fully realized, not quite formed. It is tainted by aversion, even just subtly. Now sometimes you truly can’t say yes, and then you say yes to the no: I hate that I’m not feeling okay, but I’m actually okay with not being okay.

    Saying yes in mindfulness practice eventually begins to spill over into your everyday experience. You start to say yes—with awareness—again and again: yes when that guy cuts you off in traffic, yes when your email box is spammed to the brim, yes when your doctor is an hour late, yes even when you lose a treasured person, place, or thing. You say yes to your experience of the present moment, whatever it is. You no longer reject and armor your heart. Not that you necessarily agree with the moment, or would wish it on anyone, or think it’s desirable, or wouldn’t try to rectify injustice, but you say yes because whatever life brings is just that, life as it is. And by saying yes, you let go deep down inside and can step forward with poise and balance and clarity to the next right thing.

    My six-month-old daughter has been waking me up hourly this week to night-nurse. Sometimes I say no. Oh god, not again, what’s wrong with her? Will I ever get to sleep again? In those moments, mindfulness is a vague “good idea” somewhere in my sleep-deprived brain. But other nights this week when she cries I simply, without thought, say yes. Yes, darling, feast. Yes, I’ll be with you. Yes, I’m awake and that’s just how things are. I listen to the stillness of the night (rare in Los Angeles), feel her warm body and attend to her snuffling slurps, and sigh that yes, this is life. A deep peace sets in over me.

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...pen-heart.html
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Wow Jundo ... this hit me square on! What a beautiful article ... thank you for this. Being present and accepting of what is, not what we think or what it to be - I feel that will come in time, on its own time. But to be content and balanced even in the struggles ... to say, "Yes!"

    Gassho
    Shingen


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The second article is by Diana Winston, and is a simple, elegant statement of saying "YES" to whatever is ... a Teaching so much at the heart of Shikantaza as well ...

    Lovely ...

    ====================

    First you start out on the cushion (or chair for the less pretzelly inclined) and you attend to your present moment experience, no matter what it is—good, bad, or ugly. And as you practice and get some skill—“Hey I can sit here and be okay in the midst of knee pain, in the midst of my aching back, my frayed nerves”—then you realize just this: the capacity to be mindful means having an open heart. It’s not a theory, it’s a heart/body-felt insight.

    Why is this so? Because as you sit there, hour after hour, you learn to say yes. Yes to your jagged breathing, yes to your itchy scalp. Yes to the leaf blower dude across the street, yes to your grief and pain and shame and grandiosity and fear. Not because you want to act on these things, but because they’re true, and fleeting, and simply part of who you are (but not the half of who you really are). Your nervous system begins to relax—at last you’re acknowledging the truth of things.

    You say yes to your pride, your stupidity, your murderous rage. Naturally you don’t act on your murderous rage, but you allow it to be true within you. It is a very inclusive practice. Nothing is ever left out.

    You discover that if you are pushing away your experience, even ever so slightly, your mindfulness is not fully realized, not quite formed. It is tainted by aversion, even just subtly. Now sometimes you truly can’t say yes, and then you say yes to the no: I hate that I’m not feeling okay, but I’m actually okay with not being okay.

    Saying yes in mindfulness practice eventually begins to spill over into your everyday experience. You start to say yes—with awareness—again and again: yes when that guy cuts you off in traffic, yes when your email box is spammed to the brim, yes when your doctor is an hour late, yes even when you lose a treasured person, place, or thing. You say yes to your experience of the present moment, whatever it is. You no longer reject and armor your heart. Not that you necessarily agree with the moment, or would wish it on anyone, or think it’s desirable, or wouldn’t try to rectify injustice, but you say yes because whatever life brings is just that, life as it is. And by saying yes, you let go deep down inside and can step forward with poise and balance and clarity to the next right thing.

    My six-month-old daughter has been waking me up hourly this week to night-nurse. Sometimes I say no. Oh god, not again, what’s wrong with her? Will I ever get to sleep again? In those moments, mindfulness is a vague “good idea” somewhere in my sleep-deprived brain. But other nights this week when she cries I simply, without thought, say yes. Yes, darling, feast. Yes, I’ll be with you. Yes, I’m awake and that’s just how things are. I listen to the stillness of the night (rare in Los Angeles), feel her warm body and attend to her snuffling slurps, and sigh that yes, this is life. A deep peace sets in over me.

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...pen-heart.html



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  4. #4
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajńa from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  5. #5
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    I love both of the articles, but especially this one! I am so grateful that I have found zazen and have began to live with things just as they are. The ideas seem so vague at first, but when you are able to even hazily grasp it, it becomes reality.

    Gassho,
    Alex

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The second article is by Diana Winston, and is a simple, elegant statement of saying "YES" to whatever is ... a Teaching so much at the heart of Shikantaza as well ...

    Lovely ...

    ====================

    First you start out on the cushion (or chair for the less pretzelly inclined) and you attend to your present moment experience, no matter what it is—good, bad, or ugly. And as you practice and get some skill—“Hey I can sit here and be okay in the midst of knee pain, in the midst of my aching back, my frayed nerves”—then you realize just this: the capacity to be mindful means having an open heart. It’s not a theory, it’s a heart/body-felt insight.

    Why is this so? Because as you sit there, hour after hour, you learn to say yes. Yes to your jagged breathing, yes to your itchy scalp. Yes to the leaf blower dude across the street, yes to your grief and pain and shame and grandiosity and fear. Not because you want to act on these things, but because they’re true, and fleeting, and simply part of who you are (but not the half of who you really are). Your nervous system begins to relax—at last you’re acknowledging the truth of things.

    You say yes to your pride, your stupidity, your murderous rage. Naturally you don’t act on your murderous rage, but you allow it to be true within you. It is a very inclusive practice. Nothing is ever left out.

    You discover that if you are pushing away your experience, even ever so slightly, your mindfulness is not fully realized, not quite formed. It is tainted by aversion, even just subtly. Now sometimes you truly can’t say yes, and then you say yes to the no: I hate that I’m not feeling okay, but I’m actually okay with not being okay.

    Saying yes in mindfulness practice eventually begins to spill over into your everyday experience. You start to say yes—with awareness—again and again: yes when that guy cuts you off in traffic, yes when your email box is spammed to the brim, yes when your doctor is an hour late, yes even when you lose a treasured person, place, or thing. You say yes to your experience of the present moment, whatever it is. You no longer reject and armor your heart. Not that you necessarily agree with the moment, or would wish it on anyone, or think it’s desirable, or wouldn’t try to rectify injustice, but you say yes because whatever life brings is just that, life as it is. And by saying yes, you let go deep down inside and can step forward with poise and balance and clarity to the next right thing.

    My six-month-old daughter has been waking me up hourly this week to night-nurse. Sometimes I say no. Oh god, not again, what’s wrong with her? Will I ever get to sleep again? In those moments, mindfulness is a vague “good idea” somewhere in my sleep-deprived brain. But other nights this week when she cries I simply, without thought, say yes. Yes, darling, feast. Yes, I’ll be with you. Yes, I’m awake and that’s just how things are. I listen to the stillness of the night (rare in Los Angeles), feel her warm body and attend to her snuffling slurps, and sigh that yes, this is life. A deep peace sets in over me.

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...pen-heart.html

  6. #6
    Second article: So true but also SO VERY VERY HARD to bring into daily life.

    Inspiring? Yes!
    Can I do it always, at any time and situation without fail? NO way!
    Will I ever be able to live that way? Well, do I have to?

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  7. #7
    Both beautiful articles, especially since parents are also caregivers and we often feel stretched to the limits of our ability. It is a privilege to be trusted to give care, though. To other caregivers for elderly relatives, spouses, friends and all those who care in a professional context, my greatest respect.

    The second article is something I am away of on a daily basis. Will I bow to my pain and accept it or push it away? Will I soften to tight muscles and flaring joints in Zazen or tighten? My experience is just where it is but not always where I want to be. Opening the heart is the only way but certainly not the easiest.

    Thank you for sharing these, Jundo.

    Gassho
    Andy

  8. #8
    Thank you for these articles, Jundo. Caregiving is showing the limits of my own compassion and energy, and sometimes it is surprising how I rebel and want to take off, become impatient, or angry. There is aspiration to have a heart that never closes, but I also accept limits as they are. It is what it is, but how do I accept limits without giving license?

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    I can still hear the words, "Just wait 'til you're 95 !"
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  10. #10
    wow.... Jundo, you hit the nail over the head with this article. I hav ebeen dealing with a person who seems never to be happy with life, it doesn't matter what I may say the person does not respond positively. Being a counselor is frustrating not being able to reach this person. it is gruelling, frustrating and, at times hard to take, depressing. On the other hand, this experience was what has brought me to practice Zen, and this article was like an answer to my prayers. I just need to sit and accept, let go and just be. Things may not change outside of me, but, by sitting and accepting things do change inside of me. Again, thanks.

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Beautiful indeed.

    Thank you, Jundo.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  12. #12
    WOW! thanks Jundo, I loved both articles, but the one about the caregivers touched the bottom of my heart and the prayer is beautiful, gonna make it art of my day, specially when I´m with my kid (we don´t live together) and going to share it with his mom, she is Wicka, but we focus on the similarties of our paths, rather than the superficial differences. Thanks again!

    Gassho

    kb
    Meditate and Defy.

  13. #13
    Junior Member Kim's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo for suggesting these articles for 'caregiver burnout'. So many issues about nursing (the hospital kind ) ride on that 'yes/no' edge. From saying 'yes' to finding your floor understaffed for the shift and getting to 'the work is here, now, just do it' to the eleventh time you try and sit down to chart and the little old lady who pees every half hour calls again. My body just crumples sometimes and I feel like a hard biscuit or something. Instead, I can grunt 'yes, yes, yes' and get up and go to it. Accidentally this has come to me before, a directive to just go with it, don't resist, don't THINK . . . so I can make this deliberate, even saying 'yes' to the 'no' which incidentally gets really loud at times.

    Gassho,
    Kim

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