As a professional with years spent giving of myself, it was only when I learned to become totally present to my client that I found that I was energized by a depth of spiritual nourishment. In a recent review of my newest book, Life as a Prayer, I was pleased to see this recognized and then recommended
“… supported by her own spiritual practice she (Marggie Hatala) has taken these valuable lessons of death to a personal depth that has ultimately shaped her life……Life as a Prayer is a must read for all nurses, not just hospice….”
These comments made me pause and reflect on the meaning of these words.
A movement towards Patient Centered Care has permeated training for assisted living caregivers and others caring for those with dementia. This has brought awareness to the benefits to our clients when the caregivers use various ways to learn about who their client is, to offer interest in their past activities and family, and other ways to embrace the client as the person they are rather than the elder that now requires care. Walking the halls of many long-term care units I see pictures and memorabilia from the resident’s life adorning a shelf outside of their room. I listen to caregivers talking to the resident as a knowing friend rather than someone that is there to provide care and supervision. This is a terrific change in our healthcare system, and it reaps benefits for the residents/clients as well as the staff that is tasked with providing for their daily needs. Caregivers taking time to understand who the person is that they are caring for can be witnessed by anyone observing the beautiful and loving care that is provided.
I am grateful to see the that Mindfulness and Presence are also words that are readily understood in our society and have become mainstays of excellent caregiving training programs Mindfulness training is also a newly offered program for caregivers, and it has become part of the vocabulary of caring. It really is based on being totally present to the moment and taking that into interactions with others….presence. This is the basis of taking meditation into our lives, bringing our focus from the scattered place it is too often, and hatching the enormous power of our total focus. The caregiver may have a long list of duties that are waiting for them, but the client feels the total focus on their personal needs. It is truly powerful, and anyone that experiences another person offering this focus is aware of it. They feel valued, cared about, even loved.
Spiritual presence takes this further. Spiritual presence is the result of training our busy minds to quiet through hours of meditation and other centering, contemplative practices. It is learning to listen to our own inner voice, the voice of wisdom and guidance, and developing a sacred conversation with it. I’ve heard it referred to as “our prayer voice”. Spiritual presence, holding space for another, really is going to the eternal place within and abandoning our own ego self. It is radiating complete openness to the other person. I make a conscious intention for this, calling for grace and healing power, and grounding my energy system deeply. These are techniques I’ve learned as a Reiki Master and other forms of energy healing that I have studied and are some of the tools that I use when working with my Inner Life Coaching clients. In Life as a Prayer, I have offered it as a guide for the reader to develop a spiritual practice of Reflective Writing in their own lives.
For those nurses and other caregivers, mindfulness and presence while using techniques to really know residents/clients are incredible gifts within caregiving. But it is my hope that many of these caregivers will adapt a spiritual practice like the one that I lead the reader to in Life as a Prayer. The gift is to the caregiver and the spiritual changes that will happen within and through them. Their soul will understand and find nourishment. And their hunger to live this way will follow.