Essaying the Situation
Sunday, June 25, 2006
How To Be Where You Are
    I've written this essay every day in my head for some time as I go through the processes (usually well ordered) that involve taking care of my mother. This repetitive mental writing began some time ago after I read an article, courtesy of about the importance of 'mindfulness' as one gives care, especially intense needs care.
    I've read stuff like this before and never paid much attention, for two reasons:
  1. I practice a natural, seat-of-the-pants mindfulness, anyway, and have brought that quality to my caregiving, and;
  2. These articles never make much sense. They make the reader think that one must reorder one's day and mind and then one might be in the proper frame of soul to begin the practice of mindfulness.
    Mindfulness, whether it be Buddhist mindfulness or practical mindfulness, begins with a technique that is very easy to talk about without mentioning nirvana. It helps, in considering and developing this technique, if one likes to be interested in what one is doing at the moment, but it isn't necessary.
    There are three key concepts to keep in mind in regard to Being Where You Are Now (call them "The Three F's", if you will):    I do appreciate the growing "mindfulness" in the Caregiver Industry that is prodding people to talk about helpful spiritual disciplines. Unfortunately, most of the people who write about these disciplines forget to write about them realistically. They don't answer such questions as, "What is this, really?" and, "Come on, how do I do this when I'm at the sink, about to spit-bathe an 88 year old? Do I have to wait for my personal mantra?"
    Nope, all you have to do is look outward, at your situation, your companion, your role; this is how you really do it. Close, in the moment, nonjudgmental attention. What's that pattern of varicose vessels on her back? Does this look normal? At what temperature does she like her wash cloth? What about her eyes? Cold water compress this morning?
...and further...
    What is her presence in the day saying about possible food choices? Is today an indulgent day? What about right now, this meal? Do I need to saute a savory dinner to tantalize her into alertness? Does she want comfort food? What are her stats saying about what choices I should make? What about water retention? Is she moving a lot? Will she? Should we make room for that?
    It's just plain old paying attention. Without the New Age sound effects. Same thing. Different level of approachability. You already do it. When you allow yourself to be conscious that you do it, you will be able to bring the technique forward on demand. If you want to imagine yourself as the Dalai Lama or Carlos Nakai, fine. Just make sure you're imagining them "being here now".
One of the best posts I've ever read.

This should be read by every nurse out there.

Do you mind if I link to it in a future post?

This is just what I need to stay sane in the ER.
Wish I could have read this as I headed down "Burned Out Alley" this past summer in my course work.

Have to ease up and be forgiving of self.

Just need a reminder once and a while.

Thanks for the great post. Enjoyed the read.

Too Fat, SN
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