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Inner Caregiving: Tips for Healing Companions

1. Be vulnerable and humble. Share your weaknesses as well as your strengths with the person in your care. Be able to say you are wrong, and be able to acknowledge you are not in control of others. 

2. Know that there is no end to discovery and inner growth. Seek freedom from the chains of fear, doubt, jealousy, or rage. These bind you and your elder to unhappiness. Admit your weaknesses, experience them and move on to a deeper truth. This will help the one in your care to know you as a real person, and your bond will deepen. 

3. Develop the faith to wait patiently. Unless it is an emergency, instead of springing into action quickly or acting out of feelings of anxiety, sit still. You will be guided to do your best in the situation, and your action will contain peace. 

4. Share your human story: Something you feel passionate about, something that inspired you to use your trials to triumph overcome obstacles, and ways you have cultivated peace, joy and hope. Listen to the other person to see if these qualities come forth, and at the same time, refrain from insisting that he or she live up to your experiences, philosophy or spiritual goals. Accept the person as is.

5. Never give up on a person. If the person is very difficult for you, you may have to remove yourself from their presence and be with him or her while you are alone in your room. Send words of hope and healing. 

6. Remember that you are not the sole helper. Refrain from trying to be of help by thinking you will always do it right. Give up the false idea that you can be a giver completely by your own strength. Open yourself to breathe deeply, and allow energy to flow through you from the Source of Life. Allow that Source to do what needs to be done, through you. You will experience less stress, more joy. 

7. Honor the spiritual self. Discover your elder's spiritual leanings and find a way to cultivate healing through his or her choice of inspiration. 

8. Cultivate the gift of silence. Sit together quietly. If you can't do this with your elder, do it alone in your room. Find your comfort in those quiet places. Later, your inner peace may help you communicate with your elder in a new and refreshing way. 

9. Learn to contemplate. Listen for meaning when reading poetry, wisdom tales, scripture, or hearing deep stories. Be open for the revelation of new or clearer meaning in your lives as you hear beauty, pathos, and celebration spoken or created through others, within yourselves, and within your dreams. 

10. Find the source of joy in yourself and your elder. Plant seeds of joy daily. Practice joy even when you don't feel like it. Smile before you get out of bed in the morning. Sing. Go for a walk in nature. Paint, write, sculpt, dance. Pray the Bible. Do whatever gives you joy. Continue to water seeds of joy and be open to a surprise–– joy may burst out when you least expect it. At the same time, know that this joy exists within the dark side of yourself. Without denying your shadow, your hurts, brokenness, and sorrows, carry them as sacred seeds to be transformed into joy. 


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