Thursday, June 29, 2006


Before I walk into a patient's room, I take a moment to gather myself. I take a few deep breaths and center myself. I am very conscious not to bring any stressful or hectic energy with me into a dying patient's room.

Today, as I was meditating, I felt that same shift. I felt myself coming to my center. And it occurred to me: I'd never practiced this same "presence" for *myself* before - I've only done it for my dying patients. What if I practice "presence" in all of my interactions? Okay, well, that may be an unrealistic goal, but how lovely would that be? Being present for myself this evening was incredibly powerful.

The power of presence has been discussed and written about in all kinds of disciplines - from Buddhist teachings to nursing research (unfortunately, I cannot put my hands on the nursing articles I have in mind).

So often, new nurses shy away from dying patients, citing, "But I don't know what to say!" Being present and bringing compassionate energy into the room is far more effective and valuable than any words.

I have decided to spend some time focusing on my spiritual practice. Since my divorce with S, I've felt rather off-center. First there was the major adjustment to living alone for the first time in my life (aside from one month back in 1995). Then I got involved in a whirlwind of a romance that crashed and burned as abruptly and as passionately as it shined. The sorrow over that second relationship ending within four months of my divorce gave me a new-founded shyness about relationships, which is perhaps just what I needed to step away from dating altogether to really spend some time alone with myself. I went on a few more dates to try to give it another shot, but recognized almost immediately that I was not fully present to the experience of the dates. I was frantically going through the motions of the dates to escape being present with my grief. So now, here I sit with myself. And the grief is far more tolerable than I had feared. Oh, the waves crash down on me pretty hard at times. But they pass and I am not running away from them all of the time. It's much less tiring to just sit still and feel.

So what does this new spiritual practice look like?

Well, it's not all about meditating. Today, after work I went on a bike ride in the park. The weather was lovely. Being surrounded by trees always feeds my spirit, as does writing on this blog. Surfing can be a spiritual experience for me as well - surrendering to the waves, the awe of the vastness of the ocean, my powerlessness.

Thank you all for listening / reading and thank you for coming back after my long bouts of silence. Now that I'm done with my Master's degree, I suspect I will be posting more often, once again.

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