This is why we need spiritually sensitive hospitals

04/11/2018 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Healing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,

rawpixel-740328-unsplash

Here is a list of hospitals my son has visited. He stayed in all but three of these, which means that I have also stayed in all but three of these: Queen Mary’s Roehampton, Kingston, Royal Brompton, Great Ormond Street, Chippenham, Royal United, Wolfson Children’s, Great Western, Cheltenham General, Gloucestershire Royal, Churchill. Two of these hospitals involved prolonged stays in intensive care units. Together, they have spanned two continents. And in total they have added up to something over six months.

His dad and I, and all our family, have been extremely grateful for the care that he received. I wonder, though, looking back at over half a year of plastic mattresses and iv fluids, whether our son, the countless patients we met along the way, and their families, might have benefitted from a more overtly spiritual perspective.

According to research recently published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine (Ho et al, 2018): ‘There is a growing body of evidence that attending to the spiritual needs of patients and their families can improve outcomes including the quality of life, and several guidelines suggest spiritual care should be part of comprehensive health delivery. However, in practice, spiritual care is often overlooked in the management of critically ill patients.’

The Chambers English Dictionary defines the word ‘spiritual’ as:

‘Belonging, referring or relating to the spirit or soul rather than to the body or to physical things…’

And what does the dictionary mean by ‘spirit’?

‘The animating or vitalising essence or force that motivates, invigorates or energises someone or something…’

Look after the spirit

I humbly suggest that looking after the spirit that animates a person will help that person to recover. Going further, if that person is not going to recover, looking after their spirit will help them to die a good death – to be at peace at the end of life.

Spirituality, in my experience, is not a priority in hospitals. It has been largely absent from any of the wards and units my son has stayed in. There have, thankfully, been nurses and/or doctors in most (not all) of those places who have worked hard to promote emotional wellbeing. Going further, religion has been offered, but that’s not quite the same thing. As Chambers says, religion is: ‘A belief in, or the worship of, a god or gods’.

Behind the scenes, quietly, I have sensed that individual members of staff hold philosophies that prompt them unobtrusively to support a patient’s spirit – through a stillness and taking of time, through meditative techniques such as prayer or listening. But these are individual decisions, and rarely if ever shared with others.

At the other end of the scale, I have witnessed critically ill patients in a state of fearful delirium – a distressing way to transition from life.

That sense of unity

Spirituality could be described as a transcendent feeling that one is an indivisible part of the universe. It can be as simple as looking at a beautiful sunset and feeling a sense of purpose and connectedness. Or it might mean looking at another person and realising that they are simply another manifestation of the life force that animates you and everyone you love.

As a practising healer, registered with the NFSH Healing Trust, I have brought spirituality to my son in every ward that he has stayed in. But I have been unobtrusive. Occasionally I have alluded to healing methods, and my words have almost always been ignored, or invalidated with comments such as: “Well, it won’t do any harm”. When my son has fared better than medical staff expected, even surviving against the odds, there has never been any follow-up, no attempt to learn anything of the spiritual dimension that I perceive has been a factor in his recovery.

I have noticed on numerous ward rounds and outpatient appointments that medical staff rely on forms with boxes that they can tick. Fluids? Tick. Bowel movement? Tick. Antibiotics? Tick. So here is my simple request: please, dear medical staff, make sure ‘spiritual wellbeing’ is on your list of things to tick. Be sure to ask open, non-judgemental questions that will enable your patients and their families to open up about the things that will help their spiritual wellbeing.

Find out more

Spiritual Care in the Intensive Care Unit: a Narrative Review. Ho et al, Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 2018, Vol 33(5), 279-287.

Some healers do currently work in hospitals. You can find healers through The Healing Trust, which is the largest membership association of accredited healers in the UK.

Connect with Suzanne Askham on Twitter.

Photo: rawpixel/Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Quick psychic sweep

26/04/2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Healing, Intuition, Meditation, Wellbeing | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear Intuitive

You asked me for a quick protective exercise that I often use and recommend. I have pleasure in enclosing it here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Imagine yourself standing inside a big golden egg of light – this is your own energy field, or aura. The golden egg is the border of your energy field. At the top of the egg is an opening. You can open and close this at your will, and it connects you to the All That Is.

Imagine that the surface of the golden egg is strong and protective. If any parts of it seems a bit thin or frayed or tattered, let more golden white light from the All That Is  heal those places and firm them up.

Now imagine again that you are standing in the centre of your energy egg. You are holding a big, effective broom. The brush is so wide is comfortably reaches into every part of your energy field in one big sweeping motion. Start at the top, and sweep down one side. The brush sweeps a good half of the egg as it does so. Continue the sweeping movement below your feet and up the other side of the egg. The brush sweeps over that entire half of the egg as it does so.

Finish with the brush at the top. With a quick, firm, flicking movement, send any debris – anything that doesn’t belong in your energy field – out into the All That Is, which is fully capable of handling it. Repeat the entire sweeping movement once or twice if you choose, just to make sure that your energy field is totally clean and clear.

Then, imagine beautiful pure white light coming in from the All That Is. See or sense it filling your energy field completely. Enjoy the sensation.

Finally, close the opening at the top of the egg just slightly, knowing that you can open and close it at will.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The whole exercise can be done in under a minute. It’s particularly helpful for those times when you feel that someone has hitched a ride, psychically speaking, in your energy field. It happens. Remember this: your space is your space. Boundaries matter. You get to choose who enters your space, and if they do so, it’s on your terms.

With love and happiness

Suzanne x

The healing power of envy

22/02/2013 at 11:17 am | Posted in Healing, Inspiration, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

BAFTAsEarlier this month I was lucky enough to tread the red carpet at the BAFTAs – the British version of the Oscars. I was there simply because my partner was invited. However much I like to think of myself as immune to star-spotting, I am not. It was huge fun to share a rain-soaked red carpet with George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Dame Helen Mirren and Marion Cottillard, among many others. It was fun when guests grabbed a spare BAFTA trophy and we posed for the camera. And sharing the photographs afterwards was all part of the pleasure.

A week later, I was sitting in my Wiltshire studio, facilitating a meditation group. We were focusing on the theme of forgiveness. After half an hour of silence, we swapped notes. A writer friend in the group, Claire, said something endearing. “I found it very hard to focus on forgiveness at the beginning of the meditation, because I just kept thinking how envious I was of Suzanne for going to the BAFTAs,” she confessed.

Everyone in the group laughed – it was a sweetly funny moment. But afterwards, it got me thinking.

The truth is, Claire and I are alike. Whenever I hear of someone’s good fortune, there is often some envy mixed up with delight. I am happy for them, of course. But there can also be a sense of being left out, like not receiving an invitation to a friend’s party.

Envy is said to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins; it’s an emotion we’re traditionally not supposed to feel. But we do feel it, so there must be some purpose to it. What purpose does envy serve?

After the meditation session, I decided to watch out for my next experience of envy, to see what I might learn. I didn’t have long to wait: it arrived with the morning post. Among the envelopes there was a programme for the upcoming Mind Body Spirit Festival in London. My eyes went straight to the workshops, and straight to the names of the facilitators. And then, I felt stirrings of envy.

The envy could only mean one thing: I would like to run a workshop at a large event like the Mind Body Spirit festival. But mixed up with the envy were stomach-churning feelings of inadequacy and fear. There was a mouse-like element to the fear that seemed to be saying in a firm yet squeaky voice: “It’s safer to stay at home.”

The wisdom of envy

I focused in on the envy again. And deep within its energy I found these words: “Remember who you are.” And then I realised that the spiritual purpose of envy is to help us to stay on our own unique path. That path does, for sure, take us out of our comfort zone. It may be a hard path, and the only way we can do it is one step at a time. I realised that envy was telling me to quit dreaming and start doing what was required – one step at a time.

It occurred to me that many of the speakers at the Mind Body Spirit Festival workshops have written books on their subject – some of my envy lay in that direction. I am indeed in the process of writing one, on the brand of intuitive meditation that I share with others – but progress is slow. And then I realised that I need to schedule regular, daily time to my project. It’s the only way I will complete it.

In a few weeks’ time I’m doing a talk on intuitive meditation in a local town. Someone has mentioned another great local group I might get in touch with. Each small step leads to the next. With the divine help of envy, I’m starting to follow my bliss.

Now it’s your turn. What do you, perhaps, feel envy about, and what might envy’s message be for you?

BAFTAs2

The good nurturing guide

09/03/2012 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Happiness, Healing, Parenting, Wellbeing | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

The author and youngest child, in baby-wearing days.

‘Nurturing’ is a very ancient word, and we all know what it means… don’t we? It’s about being loving, caring, helping young ones to grow and develop. But remove centuries of common usage, and we get a much simpler concept. This is it.

‘Nurture’, ‘nutrient’, ‘nourish’ and ‘nurse’ all come from the same ancient Proto-Indo-European root: ‘nu’, or ‘snu’. That root means, quite simply, ‘to flow, to let flow, to suckle’. The Sanskrit word is very similar: ‘snauti’ means ‘she drips, gives milk’. The ancient Greek is ‘nao’, meaning: ‘I flow’.

So to nurture means, literally, the act of giving milk to an infant. That is it – nothing else.

Why does this matter?

When you give milk to an infant, you give the milk, and that is it. True, you also look after the infant – the love and practical care you give them is extraordinarily important, and makes the difference between thriving and just surviving.  It is right that we include that sense of loving care within our modern definition of nurturing.

But the actual act of giving milk – the ‘nu’ or nourishment – is one of letting go. The milk is an unconditional gift. You don’t expect the infant to do anything in particular with it. You anticipate that they will grow. But the way they do this is not in your control. Their own particular combination of genes and psyche will blend with environment to create a unique human being.

Nowadays, arguably too often, the concept of nurturing includes a sense of sculpting and shaping the young individual so that they grow up to be a properly socialised human. Parents feel a sense of responsibility to get this right. Well-meaning manuals and playground conversations collude to create the pressured sense that parents have an awfully big role which we are highly likely, regularly, to get wrong. As the English poet Philip Larkin put it so memorably in This Be the Verse: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do/They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra just for you.”

These past weeks I’ve been working on the theme of nurturing with students and clients in my meditation studio. The pickle humans collectively get ourselves into over this word has become obvious to me. I have found two basic sub-themes.

One is a sense of not having being nurtured – emotionally and perhaps also nutritionally – as a child.

The other is a well-meaning and futile impulse to shape and sculpt young people who are way past the infant stage.

If we take ‘nurturing’ back to its original meaning, of giving milk – or sustenance, if you will – to an infant, then these two themes of profound human disappointment take on a different colour.

When we understand that the sustenance we received – flawed though it may have been – was an unconditional gift, then we realise that our own growth and flowering is ultimately up to ourselves and the laws of nature. We may choose to care for those aspects of ourselves that have been frozen in childhood patterns of trauma, want or need, and bring them to a more enlightened and happier adult reality.

When we understand that other adults do not need to be nurtured by us, it lifts the most enormous burden from our shoulders. Instead of trying to fix or rescue others, we give them the respect of one grown-up for another. And frequently we find that they do flower as a result of that respect.

Nurturing is a simple act that happens in the present moment, and then is gone. Once we have given it, we no longer own it.

Isn’t that a relatively carefree feeling?

Three-minute healing circle

10/12/2011 at 3:48 pm | Posted in Healing, Meditation, Uncategorized | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

Ideally, do this after a daily practice of meditation, when the mind is still and calm, and the body rested, yet alert.

Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your back straight, in a peaceful place where you won’t be disturbed. Take a few deep breaths, releasing any thoughts, knowing this time is for you, and for those who may wish for your help…

First  minute: create the healing circle.

As you breathe in, picture a white light in the centre of you, glowing and sparkling brightly, like a diamond. As you breathe out, picture the white light radiating outwards from your hands, creating a large white circular space in front of you: a healing space. As you continue to breathe out, send out an invitation to all who may wish for healing, to enter the circle. Each time you breathe in, see the diamond at the centre of you glowing and sparkling ever more brightly. Each time you breathe out, see the healing circle in front of you shining more and more brightly. Continue to send out a general invitation to all who may wish for healing.

Second minute: maintain the healing circle.

As you breathe in, and as you breathe out, continue to maintain the shining white healing circle in front of you. See people enter the circle, and stand in it, soaking up the healing white light. You may recognise people; you may see strangers; you may see a mixture of both. You may see nothing; just trust in the process and continue. The people do not see you. They simply approach the circle and stand inside it, soaking up the light. As you continue to breathe in and out, be aware that the whole of you, too, is glowing and sparkling with healing white light.

Third minute: close down the healing circle.

Send out a thank you to all who have entered the circle, and watch them begin to leave. As you continue to breathe in and out, gradually let the light settle down, fade, and return to normal levels. As it does so, the last people leave the circle, and then the circle itself vanishes.

The minutes don’t have to be exact. They’re just a rough guide.

WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.