Everyday Buddhahood: Caregiving as Dharma practice

The teachings of how to be present with your work, cultivate “radical presence” allowing the mind to rest in this particular moment.

This is a talk about the Mahamudra tradition by an experienced Buddhist chaplain. Can be used by Buddhist and non Buddhist caregivers, health care practitioners, therapists and the like. The presentation is comprehensive, relaxed and understandable. Please note, on the website there are 4 talks listed on the right side of the page, any and all are good!

“When we raise children, assist our aging parents, or tend to a sick friend, caregiving offers an opportunity to transform our interactions with others into part of the Buddhist path. In this series, Repa Dorje Odzer (Justin von Bujdoss), a Buddhist teacher and Chief Staff Chaplain for New York City’s Department of Correction, presents advice from the 10th-century Buddhist master Tilopa. When we follow Tilopa’s roadmap for approaching every thought, breath, and action with awareness, we achieve a clarity that will help us tend to others with ease.”

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Death: The Greatest Teacher

A very good article from Lions Roar Press, by Judy Lief…and love the illustrations. Painting by Tashi Mannox from the series “Laughing in the Face of Death: To live and die without regrets.”

From the article:

“We can begin our exploration right where we are. We have already been born, we are alive, and we have not yet died. Now what? We might connect to our life in terms of a story or a history. For instance, we were born in such and such a time and place, we did this and that, and we have a particular label and identity. But that story is always changing and in process; it is not all that reliable. However, when our story is combined with a physical body, we seem to have something more solid, a complete package. We have something to hang onto and defend. We have something that can be taken away.

But what do we have to hang onto, really? Our story is not that solid. It is always being revised and rewritten. Likewise, our body is not one solid continuous thing. It too is always changing. If you look for the one body that is you, you cannot find it.

The closer you look, the less solid this whole thing seems. When we investigate our actual experience, here and now, moment by moment, we see how fleeting and dynamic it is. As soon as we notice a thought, feeling, or sensation, it has already happened. Poof! It is the same with the act of noticing. Poof! Gone! And the noticer, the one who is noticing, is nowhere to be found. Poof! When we contemplate in this way, we begin to suspect that this life is not all that solid—that we are not all that solid.

This may seem like bad news, but in fact this discovery is of supreme importance. As we begin to see through our mythical solidity, we also begin to notice all sorts of little gaps in our conceptual schemes. We notice little tastes of freedom and ease in which our struggle to be someone dissolves, and we just are. In such moments, at least briefly, we are not being propelled by either hope or fear. We see that continually holding onto life and warding off death as a future threat is not our only option. There is an alternative to our tight-jawed habit of holding on and defending.”

 

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Mindfulness in Motion

Mindfulness is a very valuable and accessible practice. So much is being written about it today! Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking that you can just sit and be mindful. It’s difficult, and, for most of us, what’s the use? Keep your mindfulness in motion.

presence exercises for caregivers

be present!

We give 40 activities that combine well with mindfulness practice in our book Caregiver Revolution. These are things as simple as making a bed or doing dishes. While cooking dinner, gently let go of the  flow of thoughts, plans, worries, (your inner chatter), and really focus on the details of the task at hand. Notice as much as you can about what you are doing and do the job well. Why? Simply because it strengthens your attention. This is not new age fluff. The more you work with your attention, the stronger it gets…just like any skill. Attention is the one skill that everyone has but it generally remains undeveloped, and here’s a big key; focused attention REALLY relieves stress and gives you freedom to be in the present moment.

This might not mean anything to you. So much of this is experiential. If you are an artist, artisan, hobbyist or collector, if you work on crafts of any sort, are a seamstress, a singer, a musician, then you know what this is, you’ve had a taste.

I’m not going to expound a lot on theories of mindfulness. An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory. So good luck with your mindfulness in motion practice. Return again and again to the present. This never comes easy but it becomes easier and you will realize the benefits as you go.

Illustration by the wonderful talented artist and illustrator Lin Larsen

 

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Just HAD to put this up: The Coffin Club

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Transitioning Caregiving to End of Life Care

Our book, Caregiver Revolution, shows how caring  for the elderly and those at the end of life can be a rich and rewarding experience. The chapters go through the various stages and requirements as your loved one, or, for health care workers, “patient,”gets closer to the end of his or her life. The final months, weeks, days and moments of life can be fulfilling times for both “carer” and “caree,” and that is the point of our book Caregiver Revolution!

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Had a Great Time…

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Had a great day at the JFS Ulster Caregiver conference! For a reminder video AND FOR THE WRITTEN LIST of the world’s easiest morning warmup exercises, see our exercise page above. Thank you!

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