Tuesday, December 13, 2011

End-of-life care with Loving Presence

May all beings find happiness and the causes of happiness,
May all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering,
May all beings never be separate from the bliss that is sorrow-less,
May all dwell in equanimity, free from aversion and clinging.

Whether you are facing illness, overwhelming stress, or the end of your own life, it is possible to move through these challenges with greater peace and joy.

Allow yourself to consider that suffering is not necessary and it is possible to see every situation as an opportunity to awaken. The Buddhist tradition uses the Prayer of the Four Immeasurables to remind us how often we add to our discomfort.

By clinging to things we believe we need, or resisting ideas and concepts that go against our familiar way of doing things, we feel deep emotional distress. Equanimity means that we sit effortlessly and do not buy into the stories our fear-based ego tries to throw at us. We simply watch patiently and forgive ourselves for believing they have any power to hurt us.

At The Light Tree we begin from first-hand awareness that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. In other words, we are clear that we are already healed and whole. It is only our fear-based ego, with its limited view of situations, that distracts us in myriad ways from knowing the truth of who we are.

In her nursing practice, Marcy has noticed that aversion and clinging only add to feelings of panic that signal a perceived loss of control. This kind of spiritual pain is compounded by a dizzying array of fears that can arise during a health crisis.

A common question when facing serious illness is: ‘What hope is left for me if I am dying?’ This is the ego’s limited view of itself and is a perfectly natural response to an uncertain situation.

Marcy has found that the most helpful response is to sit patiently with the peace of Loving Presence and witness each aspect of the fear until its dissolves. She begins by acknowledging the discomfort that arises and begins to express itself. From there, new ways of coping begin to emerge that were previously invisible to the distressed mind.

Taking this approach has shown her the importance of removing limitations on how healing unfolds for each person. By avoiding attachment to an outcome, or clinging to the opinions of others, she invites you to find your own state of equanimity. From this calm place, new awareness unfolds and although the situation may remain the same, your perception of it will evolve.