This course, Authentic Presence, teaches the contemplative end-of-life care model, offering a new dimension in whole patient care, namely awareness of the effect of the state of mind of the care-provider. It embraces the deeper aspects of the human experience of both the patient or client and the care-provider.
Contemplative end-of-life care is care that is informed by the care-provider’s own regular reflective or meditative practice and contemplative understanding. The contemplative approach encourages care-providers to move from a conceptual grasp of what it means to be present to a fully integrated and sustainable personal embodiment of authentic and compassionate presence.
Contemplative end-of-life-care strengthens inner resources
The sources of strength, confidence, meaning and kindness are already deep within both the patient and the care-provider. It does not call on the care-provider to offer their own life solutions, but rather to be fully present, with compassionate attention and an open heart, and to trust that in this atmosphere of acceptance those who are suffering can reconnect with their own sources of strength, meaning and hope. When the care-provider brings this atmosphere of clear presence, confidence and kindness into patients’ rooms, they can disarm their fears, even inspire a deep peace within and enable them to find their own life wisdom and inner resources, whatever that may be.
Contemplative end-of-life care addresses universal needs
There are four basic needs caregivers need to identify and learn to address while caring for a terminally ill patient or client. The need to:
- understand and transcend suffering.
- find a source of comfort, peace or refuge
- experience a genuine connection with others
- find meaning in life, and illness and dying
These needs are universal and can be considered spiritual in nature. If unacknowledged or unmet, they can become the primary source of suffering for a patient, exacerbating symptoms of physical pain and emotional distress. The certificate program’s focus lies on how to address these four needs in a skillful and effective way.
Contemplative end-of-life care embraces the deeper dimensions of living and dying
We often fail to fully acknowledge all aspects of human experience, including deeper, spiritual needs, especially at the most critical times in a person’s life - as they face illness and death. The contemplative-based approach embraces an understanding of the deeper dimension and mystery of living and dying, as well as the spiritual and deeply human aspect of caregiving. This, as a result, will lead to better care for the patient and better support for the individual healthcare provider to transform difficult situations, and overcome feelings of exhaustion that so many report.