In the Presense of Pain

I AM A NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED HOLISTIC NURSE.  As a holistic nurse I believe it is my duty to treat each and every one of my patients as a “whole person,” not just as an example of a diagnosis, a disease, physical injury or mental illness...  Not: The diabetic in room 305; the fractured hip in 319...

As a holistic nurse, I view each one of my patients as a complex personality made up of Mind, Body, and Soul, all combined to create One Whole Human Being — Whole-ism.

What all that means is - like holistic nurses everywhere -I believe in the existence of Spirit and the crucial role it plays in determining our health, our well- being, and our happiness.  No, "believe" is not the right word here; believing doesn’t accurately describe what I understand about Spirit.  I KNOW THAT SPIRIT EXISTS.

Before specializing in neuromuscular therapy and traditional healing, I spent five years as a home-care hospice nurse.  Working with the home-bound and their families — the terminally ill, the dying and those who cared for them — really opened my eyes about a lot of things.  Working in hospice was totally different from working in the hospital; it is not like responding to a Code Blue, or toe-tagging the newly deceased.  Home Hospice nursing is a totally different relationship with Death; a relationship that makes Life feel more precious — if that is truly possible?

I am sure many people have never have the opportunity to witness death, let alone hold someone’s hand as they die.  Or if you have been fortunate enough to be there for a loved when Death comes to call, chances are it is a rare, if not a once in a life-time experience.  Not so for hospice nurses.

Working with the dying brings hospice  nurses into a world of such deep suffering, pain and despair, that if we stay open — it awakens our Compassion.  Hospice brings nurses come face to face on a regular basis with not only their own fear, but the collective fear, anxiety, dread, and denial of Death that is so prevalent in our modern culture.

Hospice nursing is not a job.  It is a spiritual path that forces those who walk it to reexamine their core beliefs and disbeliefs about Death, about Dying, about the Afterlife and the possibility of the survival of Consciousness...  I have seen patients literally defy death and personally cared for many patients who managed to survive long after all hope was gone — beyond all realistic medical expectations, far beyond what seemed to be humanly possible.  Others in my care somehow managed to fade quickly, passing away quietly over night as if they had simply decided it was time to go and then surrendered their will to live.

I have seen so many things that nursing school never prepared me for, things that only Divine Intervention or the Soul’s own Inspiration could explain how my patients managed to avoid Expiration.  I have learned that Spirit is real, and if someone at Death’s door ever tells you: “Uncle Bud is here, everything is going to be alright,” believe them!  I have learned whether or not you think the Spirit is — “Divine,” “Human,” or “Invisible” — it is still there.  From my experience I have learned that Invisible doesn’t mean: “not visible,” it doesn’t mean: “can’t be seen.”  In-visible really means something is visible — but only if look at it from the In-side...


Working as a hospice nurse and witnessing Death from the inside is directly why I am a holistic nurse today.  It was in hospice work that I learned the healing arts of “the laying-on-hands” and “anointing-with-oil.”  It was there that I learned the hard way about “burn-out.”  Where I learned ultimately that the techniques I had been trained in to ease pain and bring comfort and solace the dying — work even better on the Living!

In short, hospice nursing is how I became convinced of the Presence of Spirit, where I learned the importance of “Caring for the Caregiver.”  So when I say: “In my line of work I see spirit-in-action everyday,” I don’t mean I figuratively see “spirit-in-action” — I am saying because of my experience and training — I can literally see the subtle energy-fields that surround and emanate from all living things.  At the risk of being discounted as “New Age” I am telling you that I can actually see auras, halos, thought-forms, and other manifestations of Energy.  I am saying I can see what they call in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Qi... Not only that, but I can: touch it, move it, disperse it, gather it, store it, and emit it to others, and... I can share that ability — to see and manipulate Qi —  to others.

This should not sound boastful.  It should not make me sound like I am claiming to be “extra special.”  It should not make me seem strange or even “out-of-the-ordinary.” (But I know it does.)

Facts are un-deniable — but not un-ignorable.  The truth is we can happily ignore any fact we choose.  The fact is: we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.  The fact is: we are all already living inside the Kingdom of Heaven.

Just look up at the stars! They don’t really disappear during the day and return again at night. Stars shine all of the time.  Look at the sun.  The sun has never set, and it never rises.  Look at the blue sky.  The blue sky is not really “blue” — it only appears that way when seen with the naked eye.  And yet, during the day the illusion of “blue” sky completely shuts out our awareness of all the stars.

Have you ever seen pictures of earth taken from “outer-space?”  When viewed from the space-shuttle you can clearly see — there is no blue sky anywhere — only clouds, water and snow, green and brown earth, shining like a jewel against the back-drop of black empty space. No political borders anywhere.

Even though as scientific modern adults we may intellectually agree that the sky is not really “blue” or that rainbows do not really hang in the sky, the optical illusion of blue sky and arching rainbows is so convincing.

Really, this is the major problem with Illusions - optical or otherwise.  Illusions shut-out true perception and true awareness of Reality.

Why am I going on about stars and rainbows?  Because of this: From our adult point-of-view we rarely even remember to look up at the stars anymore; we hardly even notice them anymore.

When is the last time you just lay back and gazed at the night sky? When is the last time you made a wish on a shooting star?  We have already seen them, and besides: who on earth has the time — except Astronomers?

That’s perhaps the biggest reason it’s so easy for many in our culture to remain “blind” to the facts — not enough time... 

In our adult world of “reality,” “jobs,” “bills,” “deadlines, and “problems” — in our chaotic world of adult responsibilities, the never-ending kaleidoscope of adult diversions and adult entertainments, we can so easily become lost in our own “individual world” of illusion.  We don’t just overlook universal truths, we “underlook” the entire universe!

No wonder so many adults feel unsteady and unsure with the vital sensations of aliveness that come with even minimal practice of Qigong.  Suddenly feeling the “Qi flowing though you” isan unusual sensation for most of us.

Initially, increased Qi-flow can feel uncomfortable — like suddenly running 220volt current down a 110-rated wire; you tend to overheat... Unfortunately for many unsuspecting adults, we are just that good at ignoring, denying, refusing, closing-out, or in some other way — suppressing our own vital Life-energy.  The sad thing is most people you meet are operating on only a tiny fraction of their potential Life-energy.

Many of us have forgotten that Life was meant to be lived outside in the real world, not inside on the High- Definition Super-Plasma TV, inside the latest GameCube or in another scotch-on-the-rocks.

Our “natural lives” were meant to be mostly fun and rewarding, not a struggle for ego-survival through distraction and diversion!  Life - as nature intended it - was meant to be “seriously played” - not played so seriously.  And...  It was meant to be played outside!

Qigong is the natural solution to these obstacles to feeling good, to engaging with each day in full-aliveness, full energy flow.  It is recess for adults!  It is going outside to play...  Exchanging Qi with Nature.  Working on relaxation instead of working out!

Working in the Presence of Pain has taught me to stay in the Present.  To care for myself each day so I can continue to care for others...  It has taught me to face my fears.  It has taught me to breathe through my discomfort. 

Hao la!  


--Pahka Dave