Years ago a student nurse confessed to me she avoided going into the room of a seriously ill man. Near the end of her shift, though, his thin hand reached out and grasped hers. Having trouble sleeping, he asked her to sit with him for a moment.
Balancing on the edge of his bed, he spoke to her about his fear of pain and about being a burden to his family. While he spoke, she worked her mind over and over with, “What should I say? What can I do?”
For the next few minutes, the man talked. For the nurse, her worrying slowly gave way to listening.
Then the man sighed. His eyes closed and a relaxed smile emerged. Giving her hand a squeeze he said, “Thanks for listening. I feel so much better now.”
Being an Oasis
So often we think to be useful we have to do or say something brilliant to ease someone’s pain and suffering.
But mostly, people are thirsting for presence. Your presence. And the connection and witnessing that comes from that.
The question is, how to be present to the moment when there is so much going on inside your head and the world around you? Expectations to be in several places at once and tracking many concerns simultaneously not only can cause fatigue, but emotional distancing as well.
To help work with this, I use the image of an oasis. A refuge amidst a harsh or inhospitable landscape where a person can drink in warmth, safety and restoration.
And that oasis is you.
It may seem a bit of responsibility to take on being an oasis for someone’s else’s thirst for ease and rest. And what about your thirst, too?
This oasis, first and foremost, is your personal well spring. You drink first. Like putting the oxygen mask on in an airplane before you help the person next to you.
Maybe in the moment, you don’t have what you need to be present to another.
Then be gentle and present to your own depletion. And drink and drink and drink. Fill your cup. The source you drink from is your breath. So drink in as much as you need.
How to Breathe and Create your Oasis
A breath taken with focus and intention is profoundly different than the breaths you take for granted. Think of these breathes like sips of nourishment for your whole self. The natural cycle of the in breath and the out breath is like the cycle of receiving and offering.
Breathing in, give this moment to yourself,
Breathing out, let your mind rest and quiet
Breathing in, there is nothing to do or change
Breathing out, ease and calm expands around you
With each mindfulness breath, you can grow the sphere of refuge within you and around you. Then the bridge between your inner well spring to another’s thirst is not such a long span; easing the thirst for presence.
The practice of mindfulness has so much to offer ourselves and those we care for. It strengthens our ability to be present to our own burdens, nourish us up, and be an oasis for ourselves while caring for others. There are just a few seats left!
If you can’t make the live call, I’ll send you the recording. You can Register Here and listen to the live call at a time that works best for you.
If you are a health professional feeling stress at work or home, I encourage you to take a moment and read about my upcoming online program Room to Breathe: Mindfulness Tools for Health Professionals. In 7 weeks you will have less stress and the tools to create greater ease at work and home. The early bird price is available now until January 27th.
And It’s the only time I’ll be offering it this winter. So if you have any questions or doubts if this is for you, let’s schedule a time for a brief chat. Click here to contact me.
Until then, one breath in, one breath out.
My love to you,