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The Importance of "Presence" Rather Than Being a Helper

inquiry & integration

inquiry instructions

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Inquiry:  What is the best state to enter the room with a dying patient?

Personal Integration:  This practice can be done alone or with a friend, lover, or counselor. Take one to five minutes or longer to contemplate and answer the question. When done with another, it is essential that the listener remains neutral and encourages you by repeating this inquiry as needed to help maintain focus.  It is always important to ask ourselves when we enter the room of a dying patient (no matter what their relationship is to us) do I have an agenda?   This agenda could be to help them feel better, to laugh, to cry, to express anger, to finish unfinished business etc.  All of these otherwise positive agendas will get in the way if our patient needs to be able to be somewhere else.  It is important to hold our agendas to the side, and let the patient be at the center of our attention.  Let yourself imagine going in the room either in the future or in past times, and be aware of your wishes for the patient.  It is natural for us to have wishes or an agenda.  We just need to learn to put it to the side.  As you do this keep asking yourself what does it feel like?  How receptive am I?  How open is my heart?  How much am I ready to surrender my ideas to go with the flow of the patient.  All of these questions will help you be prepared to be in the optimum state for healing.

Inquiry 2:  What is difficult for you, in terms of having an agenda for how you want to help the patient?

Personal Integration 2:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  Each of us is unique as to what we might think our purpose is when we visit a dying friend, family member or patient.   It is very rare that any of us are empty of having ideas of how we want to help.   This can be very subtle, and it is rare that we need to empty ourselves of what are usually positive intentions.  The only way to really be present, available with an open heart and mind is to know what we would want to happen both consciously and subconsciously.   When we take great interest in unearthing our wishes for the patient, and gently put it to the side, we can then optimize the chances for being a simply open, curious heart, without imposing even our good will wishes.

Inquiry 3:  Do you see the benefits and necessity of having some feelings of helplessness, insecurity, emptiness, and sorrow as a part of your inner experience when you are with a dying patient?

Personal Integration 3:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  One of the greatest misunderstanding we can have when we are caring for a dying patient is that we should just be in a loving state.  It is so natural to have feelings of helplessness because we want to help in areas that we can't (like wishing we could help them not feel pain or die).   It is also natural to feel some insecurity, because who can securely help someone feel safe when they are facing death?   It is also natural as a caring human being to feel sorrow for anyone who is watching their body break down, when you wish you could help them be healthy.   All of these vulnerable feelings are the price of admission to opening our hearts in a caring role.   When we recognize that these feelings are a good sign it will help us relax with our humanness, and feel more trust that our hearts and presence are in a natural and optimal place.

Inquiry:   How do you discover the patients most prevalent need at any given time?

Personal Integration:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  This question is one that is a good ongoing mantra.  The dying patient can change what they need in any given moment.  At one time they may need to face grief, and at another time they may be in denial.  As we continue to stay flexible to tune into the need of the moment we are accessing our presence, our intelligence and our heart.   It can be very helpful to refer to the Introspective Guides on Feelings and Needs which will help us be more precise in guiding our words, silence, heart and actions.  

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Since 1972, Humanistic Spirituality founder Robert Strock has maintained a private spiritual and therapeutic counseling practice that specializes in purposeful living, relationships, spiritual psychology, and death and dying counseling. Humanistic Spirituality provides various spiritual workshops, guided mediations, and licensed marriage family therapists and licensed social work continuing education courses. Contact us to learn how we can help you find inner peace and spiritual awareness through our counseling, or our free guided meditations, videos, audios, writings, introspective guises and more. A warm welcome from the team at Humanistic Spirituality.

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