This past weekend I was introduced to a fellow hypnotist who shared with me that for her clients, she first enters the hypnotic state herself and then she invites the client to join her in-trance. In doing so she creates and very collaborative and positive environment within which to facilitate change and help her clients. When I heard this, it occurred to me that there was an important lesson for me to learn with respect to helping by accompanying someone on their journey.
The next day, I had an opportunity to visit with a hospice patient with whom I had visited previously. I had mixed feelings about going because, whereas I’m typically “in my comfort zone” when I can converse with somebody and offer them the opportunity to take advantage of my cognitive and rational comforting self, this particular client is typically non- communicative. Therefore, I anticipated my experience to be one of “performing” for her rather than “communicating” with her. All I could hope for was that she would derive benefit from the music that I brought on CD and the music that I sang for her, but I was not entirely confident that this would be the case. What particularly distressed me was that I have been learning about the nature of “pastoral accompaniment” for the last three months, yet I still felt unsure about what it really means to accompany someone in their healing or terminal journey. In fact, I did leave this patient feeling as ambivalent as ever about my value as a pastoral presence.
The day after that, I had an opportunity to experience an energy healing modality as “the client” wherein no conversation was conducted. And at this visit, just like my previous visit to this practitioner, it remained unclear to me what my role as “the client” was to be in this healing exercise. Was I just supposed to lie there and receive energetic healing “vibes”? Ws I supposed to visualize my areas of impaired energetic flow, and channel back to the practitioner non-verbally those areas needing attention? It was likewise unclear to me as to what role “the practitioner” might have in this energetic exchange, to add to my healing experience with this particular modality. In trying to understand our relative roles in this session, and in trying to verbalize typical expectations for use of this specific healing modality, I found the jargon associated with this modality to be inadequate for my purpose of understanding how healing might occur. I heard terms such as “witness” for the role of the practitioner, and that caused me to recollect the terminology used in pastoral chaplaincy of “spiritual accompaniment” and “getting in someone’s boat with them”. But “witness” impressed me as taking too passive of a role for a healer - and “getting in someone’s boat with them” almost seemed too intrusive. Where my friend and I finally landed was on a concept involving the pooling together of individual energies, to create a greater integrated energetic environment where my body now could intuit and draw quietly on the practitioner’s healing energies – shaped by her expertise, of course - for the benefit of my body’s healing needs. I likened the experience to two soap bubbles independently floating in the air coming together and sharing – momentarily - a two dimensional connection. Once that connecting plane of contact between the two joined bubbles disintegrated, then the two individual bubbles would then become one larger, shared bubble - containing and co-mingling the energetic contents of both. Eureka! At this moment I was satisfied that I now understood how this nonverbal healing modality could be shared for our mutual benefit - using each other’s energies and the subtle knowledge “brought to the table” by the respective parties. Reaching this conclusion also helped me go a little further in my understanding of what the concept of “spiritual accompany” might mean, in a pastoral context.
I now felt the need to assimilate this new perspective into my greater views of spirituality, self-healing universal truth. In fact, I felt that now that my spiritual and energetic “radiator” had been flushed and emptied, I now needed to refill it. I decided to drive down to the seashore, to sit in the dunes, to listen to the waves rolling in and to see what Great Revelations might come. When I got to the beach I really had no clue what to expect as to how such Great Revelation might come to me, so I chose to just walk along the water, collecting stones and shells that tickled my fancy, while breathing in the cool salt-air and absorbing the bright sunshine on this cold January day. It was my overall intent to remain as “present” as possible, at least to enjoy the natural experience of it.
When I reached a sandbar jutting out into the water like a promontory, with water on three sides, I simply stood there waiting for the Great Revelation to arrive – and, surprising to myself, I was not to be disappointed. When the Great Revelation came to me as I stood there, aligned with the sun which was hanging in the clear afternoon sky, with the sunshine sparkling on the small waves as they bobbed in the sea and marshaled to arrive in narrow lines onto the beach, it occurred to me that I actually needed to think about nothing. I needed to conceptualize of nothing. This was quite a departure for someone who spends so much time “up in their head”. In order to refill and recharge myself, all I needed to do was simply stand there, facing the energy of the sea and the sky, surrendering myself to moment and allowing my heart to open and to receive the Gift being offered to me. It was in that moment that I more fully understood the notion of just needing to passively “be” rather than to always actively “do” things, or “to make things happen”. I now understood better what “surrendering” and “allowing” means; what the value of being present with someone in spiritual accompaniment means, rather than doing something for-with-or-to them. That, in fact, reinforced my understanding of the energetic healing modality that I had experienced just hours earlier. And it also gave me a greater appreciation for the benefit of surrendering to allow myself to receive Gifts that surround me all the time - if for only a moment I can become still and allow my heart to open, to receive them.
There are so many Gifts that I often take for granted. I breathe the air constantly - but for the person who suffers with COPD, each breath is a precious gift. Each step that I take would be a precious gift to somebody feeling trapped in a wheelchair. Each moment of life that I have would be a precious gift to someone who has no moments of life left. So in meditating on this, I would suggest that we quiet ourselves, still our mind-chatter, let our hearts open, and allow ourselves to focus on those seemingly “mundane” gifts we receive continually - without which our lives might not even be viable or, at least, might be much less fulfilling. In this moment of quiet reflection, let’s refocus our core-selves toward opening our hearts to an appreciation for the Gifts that G-d constantly offers us.