Monday, March 21, 2011


-- Caregiving, part 2 --

Today we have the second installment of a special 2-part presentation by William & Nancy Martin -  Nancy has many years experience as a clergywoman and as a director of volunteers for Enloe Hospice (Chico, California - USA); while William has experience as a therapist, college instructor, writer, and as a minister. The couple have two grown children and can be found at:  or at:
Based on the book The Caregiver’s Tao Te Ching

Part 2 of Ancient Wisdom for Today's Caregivers
by William & Nancy Martin

Caring for another person is not about orchestrating the day so that it goes according to some idealized “plan.” It is about letting go of our ideals and making room for the two people who are here in this place, in this moment. This brings us the freedom to open our hearts to ourselves and to those in our care.

Acceptance is the key.
...If we try to get rid of our pain
we will suffer all the more.
This is the secret of our path:
gentleness and flexibility bring the results
that force and rigidity fail to achieve.
(from The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36)

When we are confronted with circumstances that are not what we want them to be, it is natural to push back against them. We want to change them, deny them, or make them go away. We communicate to the one in our care that she is not who we want her to be - someone who is whole, healthy, and vigorous. We communicate to ourselves that we are not who we want to be — someone who is energetic, in control, and at ease. We each end up discouraged and withdrawn.

When we notice this tension and yield our attempts to change things, our experience is transformed. When we accept that this set of symptoms and these challenges are just what is happening in the moment, we find solid ground. When we acknowledge what is real, our vision clears. Now we can see what is possible, what our energy and our care receiver’s strength will allow today.

The present moment is all we have.
The present moment is all we have,
so we are not constantly seeking
a faster way to do things
or a better place to be.
(from Chapter 80 of The Tao Te Ching)

There is no other time or place. There is nothing else that we should be doing in an attempt to make things other than what they are. This experience was always going to contain pain, weakness, uncertainty and fear. It is the product of a very specific set of relationships, experiences, and perspectives. This is our life, not some distraction or diversion from it. There is not some “normal” life that has been put on hold for these weeks and months. If we allow ourselves to sink completely into this present moment of our life, we can find contentment in our giving of care. In time, we discover that we would not have missed this experience for anything in the world.

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