Guest Post – PRR – EMPTY EXPERIENCES

Photo by Stainless Images on Unsplash

I have spoken previously about impermanence, but it is good to be reminded of it because it is the very nature of everything, and we suffer if we don’t accept that. We try to fight or deny impermanence because we see it in a negative way – change and death. But when we accept impermanence we develop a true appreciation for every moment of life.

For example, the magic of a sunset is its temporary appearance, just like a rainbow. It appears under special circumstances and only remains for a short time. And we have to be in the right place at the right time to see it. That’s why we stop for a brief moment of awe when we see a rainbow. If it were to last forever we’d take it for granted and never really appreciate it. At the same time, we don’t suffer or lament its passing once it disappears. Knowing its impermanence means we don’t become attached to it, therefore we can experience joy at its appearance yet let it go when it disappears.

It is interesting that almost everybody is able to do that, yet we all suffer so much because of attachment to other things in our lives, thinking of them as permanent. We suffer when we have some loss, separation, decay and all kinds of changes that are part of life. Sadly, it seems only after we lose someone or something do we really appreciate it. When it is actually too late.

This is why contemplating impermanence is so important – not to depress or upset us but to help us fully appreciate life and everything in it. Once we understand impermanence we can enjoy every moment, just like the fleeting appearance of a rainbow. The company of loved ones, nature, material comfort etc, when we fully appreciate the moment, we can give ourselves to it completely and really experience it. And when that moment is over, we let it go. Of course we still have our memories, but we shouldn’t cling to them or allow the past to dominate our present. Instead we should use our past as inspiration to improve everything that we do now.

Even for the worst experiences in life, contemplating impermanence is helpful as we understand that nothing lasts forever,……

PRR

Guest Post – PRR – STOP CARRYING THE PAST

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

It is not a big surprise if I tell you that we can’t change the past – we all know there is no way to turn back time. Still, we cling so strongly to memories and experiences of the past that we hardly enjoy the present. Especially negative memories, which can have a very deep impact on how we plan our lives and think about the future.

Because of this some people develop very negative thoughts. For example, constantly thinking about revenge and wishing a person suffers for the things they did to them. Or they are so affected by the difficulties they have been through that it is almost impossible for them to find happiness in their lives, then they become depressed and unable to help themselves or others.

Although you may not be able to see it, these kind of thoughts can be very harmful. They may lead to negative actions, if you succeed in carrying out the plans you made. But most of all these negative thoughts will take away your joy in life, awareness of the present moment, and the opportunities you have to become a better human being.

Actually, the best revenge you can take is not allowing other people to make your life miserable, don’t give them this kind of power or satisfaction. You are the one who controls whether you are happy or unhappy, no one else. It all depends on your mental attitude.

Of course we all face challenges in our lives, but we can face our problems with strength and courage or we can let ourselves down. We can allow the past to take over our present and future, or let go of the past and decide to turn our present and future into a better one.

I can tell from my own experience, letting go of negative things that happened in the past can be a great relief. It is like a great weight we have carried for so long being lifted from us. It makes us light and energetic to continue on our journey. As Indira Gandhi said, “Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.” So, forgive yourself and others, be brave, let go of the past, and try to make every moment of your life meaningful.

PRR        

Guest Post – PRR – WHO’S FREE?

People are always talking about being free and independent – kids want their own car and house so they are independent and free from their parents, people want their country to be independent and free from unwanted rulers. But nobody is free and independent.

Who really has control over themselves? We don’t have control over anything, not just external things, but even our own mind. We can’t control what feelings and thoughts we have from one moment to the next. And when these thoughts and feelings come, we are completely carried away by them and our life becomes like a roller coaster.

Modern technology makes everything faster, which in one way is good as we have access to more things, but in another way, the roller coaster of our emotions becomes much faster. For example, previously people exchanged letters by mail which took days or weeks, but now people exchange emails and text messages almost instantly.

We have no control and are totally dependent on conditions. For example, being in a relationship, if you talk to him or her every night and then one night you call and there is no answer, then you start to have all sorts of thoughts and emotions.

But if you have mindfulness and awareness of how you are dependent on causes and conditions then no matter what happens you won’t get completely lost or carried away.

PRR

Guest Post -PRR – GIVE 100%


We are living in a very busy and competitive time. No matter whether we’re in Asia or in the West, we grow up with the idea that we have to work hard in order to “make it” – whatever this might be. Maybe we want to get a good job, have a happy family, a nice house, loyal friends and an interesting lifestyle.

We think that if we always give 100% of our strength then we can achieve all our goals. And you know what? I think that’s true. But maybe we have to look at this from a slightly different perspective.

Doing something 100% doesn’t necessarily mean being extreme. It doesn’t mean getting obsessed by something or thinking about it all the time while neglecting other things which are important in our life.

It means that in the very moment while focussing on something you really concentrate only on that. During your work you shouldn’t think too much about other things which are not related to it. And when you are not working you also shouldn’t think all the time about the work.

Rather while you are working, concentrate on your work and do it in the best way possible without being distracted. And when you are together with your family or friends focus on them and give them all your attention, care and love. Likewise when you have some free time for yourself let go of all the other things, enjoy and just relax.

In this way you can follow various activities without being distracted. Try to train your mind to be focussed. Be aware of your actions. Know what you are doing with your body, speech and mind. Ask yourself if you are really doing what you are supposed to do right now or if your mind is distracted by thinking of the last or the next year’s holidays.

In these times if you want to accomplish your goals without getting worried, stressed or crazy this seems to be one of the best methods: give 100% in every single moment.

PRR

Guest Post – PRR – QUANTITY DOESN’T EQUAL QUALITY

When you do meditation, quality is more important than quantity.

People have a lot of ideas about how much practice one should do. Some Lamas might say you have to spend a particular amount of time doing certain pujas. If you can listen to them and practice accordingly that’s great! But sometimes it doesn’t work even if you do exactly what they say – if your mind doesn’t change at all even after a lot of practice something is going wrong.

For example you can do two hours of Tara practice each day. But if you are distracted during that time it might turn into a mere lip service or just another duty which is to be done on top of your other worldly responsibilities.

Some people who focus mainly on quantity might end up with daily sessions of discursive thoughts or “planning sessions” rather than doing meditation sessions. The mere amount of practice might turn into nothing more than fodder for a proud ego. In this way your practice might have a good quantity but not a good quality.

A good quality is like pure milk. Whether you have a glass or just a teaspoon of it, it remains pure milk. Discursive thoughts are like water. Good thoughts are like clean filtered water. Bad thoughts are like dirty polluted water. Now, whether you pour the clean or the dirty water into that milk, in both cases it’ll dilute the pure milk.

I’m not saying that you should let go of your practice! Don’t use this as an excuse in order to minimize or escape from your daily meditation sessions. A regular practice is very important. It’ll gradually train and transform you. But you should always examine whether you are really focused on the practice or simply counting hours, minutes or mantras without even trying to tame your mind.

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that you’re a great practitioner because of quantity. Likewise don’t fool yourself by thinking that you’re a great practitioner because of quality. No matter what you say to other people about your practice – if you are insincere you won’t fool anyone but yourself.

What matters most is that you discipline yourself. Be your own boss. Take responsibility – for your life, your actions and your practice. Don’t depend on others or particular situations to make things happen. Otherwise nothing will ever happen. As I already said in one of my previous posts: Just do it!

When you practice try to make the time you spend really meaningful, no matter how long or short it may be. Develop a positive attitude towards it so that you can generate a natural habit and sincere wish to practice regularly.

This is how I try to approach my daily life and practice. Since it works quite well for me I thought of sharing it with you. However, if what I am saying is not helpful for you then better just do what you consider to be best for you.

As I said: take responsibility for yourself. Things don’t just happen. You have to make them happen.

PRR

Adapting to a brave new world. Telehealth in palliative care

We’ve certainly had a change in our practice of palliative care with technological developments and more recently, change has been accelerated by the pandemic.

This fascinating work by Palliverse’s very own Dr Anna Collins and teams at St Vincent’s Hospital, North Adelaide Palliative Care Service and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre really accurately described what it’s been like for me working as a palliative care physician using telehealth. It’s been terrific for some aspects – we can quickly review the patient without having to drag them into hospital, preserving their energy and disrupting their lives less. However, I really struggle when patients are deteriorating and when they speak languages other than English as their first language.

Their research found that “palliative care patients and doctors at each site found telehealth wasn’t only acceptable (91 per cent and 86 per cent respectively) but also satisfactory (72 per cent and 65 per cent) in most situations.”

In their studies, “involving interviews and surveys of 130 palliative care patients and their doctors following a telehealth appointment, patients in rural and regional area reported telehealth as being highly satisfactory. Doctors too rated it highly satisfactory when a visual link (not just audio) was used, or if the appointment was for a routine review.

“However, patients were less satisfied when care goals or future planning were discussed, and doctors reported it as being less satisfactory when the patient’s condition was changing or rapidly worsening, or if patients spoke a language other than English.

“And both patients and doctors found telehealth unsatisfactory in the presence of changing or unstable symptoms, such as pain which required medication adjustment or change.


image of older patient speaking with a doctor on an iPad screen
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Safer Care Victoria and the Palliative Care Clinical Network hosted a webinar ‘Clinical Conversation Webinar: Adapting to a Brave New World – the role of Virtual/Telehealth in Palliative Care’

The webinar recording is now available on the Safer Care Victoria Clinical Conversation Webinar Series website.  

 

Guest Post – PRR -THE FREEDOM OF FORGIVING

Photo supplied by PRR

I often meet people who cannot forgive. Even after many years they keep telling the same old stories about how they have been treated unjustly or how they have been cheated, deceived, belittled, or hurt.

The reasons for resentment can be many, with feelings of disappointment, anger, and even hatred quite common. We are not perfect, so how can we expect others and our relationships with them to be perfect. That’s how life is, we all make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow.

Sometimes with the best intentions, we make situations worse – we want to help someone but instead increase their suffering. Often we lack the wisdom to really see what actions are required or to understand when to act and when not to.

When you see your own limitations and faults, then it is easier to understand and accept those of others. You can then forgive and let go.

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Guest Post – Naomi’s Notes – Dinosaur

Photo by Umanoide on Unsplash

One day Rinpoche’s mother invited me to have dinner with the family.   Rinpoche was six, and he loved dinosaurs. He had a collection of various ones and knew all their names.  He was playing with them when I arrived.

When it came time for me to leave, I asked if I could borrow a torch but she didn’t have one.  Rinpoche came to me and insisted on giving me one of his dinosaurs.   “This will help,” he said as he pressed the small green coloured plastic dinosaur into my hand. I took it but was doubtful that it would.  

The night was dark, no moon in the sky or stars. I walked slowly but carefully towards my hut, which was some distance away.  Along the edge of the monastery forest, there was a narrow path lined with trees leading up toward the stupas.  There was a drop of a few meters on either side of the path I followed the line of the trees relying heavily on my memory to guide me.  I came to an area that was unfamiliar beside the stupas it entailed walking down three steps .The darkness seemed to envelop me.  Not sure what to do, I felt the dinosaur in my hand and looked down and to my surprise saw the dinosaur aglow with enough light to show me the path.

I smiled in the dinosaur light at the wisdom of the young Rinpoche.

The health and moral landscape of detaining asylum seekers: an Australian perspective

REGISTER  
Palliative Nexus, led by Professor Jennifer Philip, brings together clinicians, researchers and allied health professionals with a mission to improve equity, access, and quality of care in serious illness.

WEBINAR EVENT: Wednesday 27 July 4pm (AEST)
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Guest Speaker   Prof Suresh Sundram
Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Prof Suresh Sundram heads the Translational Molecular Psychiatry and the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Mental Health research.

The health and moral landscape detaining asylum seekers: An Australian perspective



Prof Sundram is an expert consultant on asylum seeker and refugee mental health to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has advised the: UN; UN Human Rights Council; Australian Human Rights Commission; national governments including Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Nauru and Papua New Guinea; and numerous non-government organisations (NGOs).  

To access recordings of previous events, please visit https://www.palliativenexus.org/recordings-of-events

Guest Post – Naomi’s Notes – Waiting for an Invitation

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

Two things are certain in this life,  we are born and we will one day die.   The time of death is uncertain, and in our life between these two we try and be of benefit to our families, community, country and the world at large.

We are all part of the same human family; we are all interconnected.  This has been highlighted  over the past two years with the pandemic.  News bulletins brought us graphic images of family and friends mourning because they were not able to be with their loved ones before death and for the funeral.  Harrowing images of countries being in lockdown showed us so many people dying daily and corpses being loaded into trucks heading to the cemetery for mass graves.   

For a while the world went quiet as we all felt the sorrow of people who were unknown to us, as well as the fear of what lay ahead.  We each dealt with it differently according to our cultural background and conditional on whether we are able to face our own mortality.

Fear is a feeling that comes usually because we don’t know about the issue that is confronting us, we have no experience with it, and we can’t predict what is going to happen.  We don’t know what to do.  Losing confidence in ourselves, we get shaky.

It is an indictment on us all that we can talk to someone on the other side of the world and even in space through technology, but because of fear avoid face-to-face communication with a work-mate or someone we see every day, or people within our own family… but especially someone who is dying.

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