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http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4817/The-Secret-to-Finding-Your-True-Love.html

I would love to share this article with every middle school girl out there… but that might be too late.

We live our whole lives looking for the elusive one, sometimes not able to stand the “one” that we are. . . because we aren’t smart enough, not thin enough, or whatever else we’ve come to believe about ourselves.

If we don’t learn to foster compassion for ourselves we get into a relationship that might be good for us and then we start to think. . . I don’t think I’m smart enough, thin enough, etc. . . of course the object of my love, who I hold in such high esteem, must think that to.

And then comes, who do they think they are?

Or OMG, if they got close enough, they would learn that thin and smart are just the surface… there is so much more than is wrong with me.

And that perfect mate, perfect relationship, is sabotaged, wrecked, and over before it begins.

I tell my friends time and time again that I am not sure if we need to teach kids how to read, write, and do math when we can’t teach them how to be compassionate and can’t show them compassion.

Does algebra really matter if we haven’t been able to connect with others, develop some sort of healthy self-worth?

I hope that the current trend to teach kids mindfulness continues to flourish.  We have kids who are detached, self-absorbed, unable to parent when they get older, and believe, like many of our CEOs and politicians, that the “other” is just someone to take advantage of, no matter who that “other” may be.

Attachment parenting has been in the headlines since the cover of Time a few weeks ago and I know little about it.  I don’t know if we need to breastfeed for much longer than we need to or sleep with our kids to foster safety.

I do know that I see parents, good people, treat their children like objects.  Referring to them like, “I picked up the kid from soccer practice. . .”

I see teachers and parents not give attention to or appreciate the voice that children and elderly have.

We are so busy that it seems like it benefits us to see “the other” as an object because then they can be manipulated — tailgating until we push them around, used to climb the corporate ladder, livelihoods taken, etc.

There has to be some middle ground between seeing corporations having personal rights and depersonalizing the people in our lives but I think it goes back to basic things . . .

Fostering presence and acknowledging the person we are with

Deep listening

Compassionate, thoughtful speak that seeks to find compromise, clarity, and communion

Cultivating a broader perspective and being able to step back to see our basic interconnectedness or as it is called in Thich Nhat Hanh‘s tradition, Interbeing.

Slowing down and taking time — put down all of the distractions and things that won’t matter some day when we are at the end of our lives.

Taking care of ourselves so we can be stewards of our selves, our resources, and our relationships.

All of these things come with contemplative practices.  And I don’t mean to say that everyone needs to become Buddhist. . . MBSR has shown us that a practice does not need to be religious or even spiritual.

I think that any contemplative practice in any tradition of any kind will help us to work on the things that will make us healthier, create stronger relationships, and bring about true peace.

What are we waiting for?

We all have breath to follow.

We all have access to fire to light a candle to focus on.

We have a treasure trove of literature and spiritual/therapeutic texts out there to teach us about the present moment and how to foster awareness.

I ask myself these questions of our greater world and I ask them of myself every day.

Is it time to embrace our enlightened-nature and foster deep connections with the essential self of others?

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“To claim our connection to Spirit on a daily basis is a

radical act in our secular culture.

It is an act that both liberates us to live in dramatically

new and creative ways and pushes us to find like-minded companions.

Circle itself becomes a spiritual practice — a celebration with

others of the beauty and wisdom of living the sacred life.

And as we remember that in each of us resides direct connection

to spiritual guidance, we can claim our personal authority

to serve as coleaders on the rim of circle.”

Calling the Circle:  The First and Furture Culture.  Christina Baldwin

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“Recognizing our intereconnectedness is the heart of giving no fear. . . Life connects us to one another, as do suffering, joy, death, and enlightment. . . Our unconditional goodness connects us. . .”

Roshi Joan Halifax, Being with Dying

Roshi Joan Halifax

Roshi Joan Halifax (Photo credit: Mari Smith)

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“What happens in a changing field of medicine, where we have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering?”

~~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying

We should still be asking ourselves this question.

But Elisabeth didn’t stop there.

“If we could teach our students the value of science and technology simultaneously with the art and science of inter-human relationships, of human and total patient-care, it would be real progress.  If science and technology are not to be misused to increase destructiveness, prolonging life rather than making it more human, if they could go hand in hand with freeing more time rather than less for individual person-to-person contacts, then we could really speak of a great society.”

I love the conscience that Elisabeth brings to her discussion.  She doesn’t just talk about what the life-world of the patient is… she goes so much farther, as if that wasn’t enough.  She looks at the societal ramifications of our fear of death.  She looks at how our science and technology is light-years ahead of our morals and ethics that need to be fostered in step with our technology.

She talks about the real blocks to great quality care. . . starting with training. . .

“They [students] learn to prolong life but get little training or discussion in the definition of ‘life’.”

I know, you are asking yourself, where are those darned stages… hmmm, that’s the point… look how much we have lost in only being focused on the stages. . .

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When discussing a case in her book, On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross states that her patient had “anger displaced in all directions and projected onto the environment at times almost at random.” She discusses this patient’s feelings of “anger, rage, envy, and resentment.

But more importantly, she says this next:

“The problem here is that few people place themselves in the patient’s position and wonder where this anger might come.”

Did you ever stop to think about this?

I’m not the nicest person when I’m at the dentist office… I’m fearful, probably in pain when I arrive, projecting into the immediate future, worried, did I mention in pain?

How often do we stop to think about how someone is feeling and how it might be justified, to them?  Not right or wrong.  And I’m not even saying that we have to condone it, just…. wow, I can see how she might feel this way… I wonder what that’s like for him…

We live in a world where it is too easy to throw some sort of label on them. . . denial, angry, non compliant, depressed, borderline, etc.  And don’t get me wrong, I know people have life threatening problems that need help. . . there is no denying that.

But what happens when we are more concerned with treatment planning than we are than attending to the person from whom we sit across?

I have to believe, no matter how long I meditate, no matter how many chants, prayers, or hands I have to hold, I might feel anger if I knew that my death was coming.

And let’s look at when Kubler-Ross was working with patients… before I was born.  Think about the de-institutionalization that happened just in the 80s because we thought people’s care was not humane.

This was the end of the 60s, when doctor’s didn’t have to have informed consent.  When they didn’t tell their patients what was going on with them or their test results.  This is when people did whatever their doctor’s told them to; no finding a second opinion.

These were people who were gravely ill, who weren’t given treatment options… let alone anyone saying to them, you know, you could go home with these people called hospice and be comfortable at home with your loved ones and die peacefully.

We judge these words by our world today, that has come a long way, in some respects.

I’ve read some angry accounts of Elisabeth’s work and I feel badly for those people who have written them.  No, I don’t agree with some of the things she has written and I certainly don’t understand how she could have helped to write On Grief and Grieving on her death bed when there was already so much confusion about her work.

But I do know this… we could still be in that dark place if not for her “at the time’ pioneering work.  And given that most doctors today still don’t need to have a course in death and dying, I would prefer that they have Elisabeth’s work in their bag of tools than just what big pharmacy tells them about magic pills and new techniques to try.

If you are a caregiver of any kind, the next time you start to feel yourself tighten because of the anger, frustration, annoyance, or other difficult emotion from the person you are caring for, think of this:

Elisabeth suggested that this was the patient’s “cry, “I am alive, don’t forget that.  You can hear my voice, I am not dead yet!”  And when you think of it, think about how many quote the lines from the poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

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“Whether the patient is told explicitly or not, he will nevertheless come to this awareness and may lose confidence in a doctor who either told him a lie or who did not help him face the seriousness of his illness while there might have been time to get his affairs in order.”

~~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying

So, stage one is supposedly denial.

I really like this part of the book.

She says that there is a direct proportion of denial in the patient as their is in the doctor.

If we cannot handle ourselves or if we cannot handle feelings about death, or we have not dealt with the important losses in our own lives, how can we be there and be fully present and supportive of our patients?

So whose denial is it?  I think it is ours collectively.

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Is this what you want?

http://www.considertheconversation.org

Sorry for the really large letters for the website…wanted to make sure that you had the info to check out this website and this video…

We can’t hide from dying.

Most of us want to be at home, most of us want some semblance of control ..

Some want to feel no pain, at the expense of extra time with family.

Others want to be lucid and wide awake despite more pain.

The common denominator?

Doing it our way!

Yet, like other taboos, like sex, we don’t talk about this with our loved ones.

Think about it, sex is everywhere but we can’t talk to our kids about healthy sexual self-concepts or taking care of their sexual health.

Is it any different with dying?

We tune in to Anderson Cooper and he and Sanjay are all over the world, in war-torn areas.  We watch people killed in Saving Private Ryan, any Bruce Willis movie, the 5 o’clock news, NCIS, zombie movies, etc.  Even Easter is coming up, a celebration of dying and renewal and we focus on the renewal, the eggs, the candy, the hats…

But we can’t talk about the reality.  Really?

I wanna talk about it before it’s too late.

Have you had the conversation?

Do you know what your aging parents want at the end of life?  Do you know what your adult children want?

Heck, do you know what you want?

What about this?

This is a great video!  It features some of the greatest names in the field… Ira Byock, MD, Doug Smith, MDiv, James Clearly, MD.  What they tell us is not that different that the stories and the teachings of people like Frank Ostaeski, Joan Halifax, Ram Dass, Stephen and Ondrea Levine.

The video emphases the reality of what our dying can be like, that we have choices, that the medical profession doesn’t always start this conversation, what is hospice care, and so much more.

Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode

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