Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

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Overview

The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own death, or wishing to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process. Her teachings affirm that we can open and contact our inner strength, and that we can help others who are suffering to do the same.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590307182
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 11/17/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 169,142
Product dimensions: 6.06(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Zen priest and anthropologist who has served on the faculty of Columbia University and the University of Miami School of Medicine. For the past thirty years she has worked with dying people and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and many other academic institutions. In 1990, she founded Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist study and social action center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1994, she founded the Project on Being with Dying, which has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in the contemplative care of dying people.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Introduction: Healing the Divide xv

Part 1 Uncharted Territory 1

1 A Path of Discovery: The Lucky Dark 3

Meditation: How Do You Want to Die? 6

2 The Heart of Meditation: Language and Silence 9

Meditation: Strong Back, Soft Front 14

3 Overcoming the Porcupine Effect: Moving Past Fear into Tenderness 17

Meditation: Mercy-Exchanging Self with Other 23

4 The Wooden Puppet and Iron Man: Selfless Compassion, Radical Optimism 25

Meditation: Contemplating Our Priorities 33

5 At Home in the Infinite: Dwelling in the Boundless Abodes 37

Meditation: Boundless Abodes for Living and Dying 45

6 You Are Already Dying: Realizing Impermanence, Selflessness, and Freedom 47

Meditation: The Nine Contemplations 54

Part 2 Giving No Fear 61

7 Fictions that Hinder and Heal: Facing Truth and Finding Meaning 63

Meditation: Bearing Witness to Two Truths 67

8 The Two Arrows: I Am in Pain and I Am Not Suffering 71

Meditation: Encountering Pain 78

9 Giving No Fear: Transforming Poison into Medicine 81

Meditation: Giving and Receiving through Tonglen 88

10 Take Care of Your Life, Take Care of the "World: Seeing My Own Limits with Compassion 93

Meditation: Boundless Caring 99

11 The Jeweled Net: Communities of Care 101

Meditation: The Circle of Truth 107

12 Wounded Healers: The Shadow Side of Caregiving 113

Meditation: Four Profound Reminders 122

Part 3 Making a Whole Cloth 125

13 Doorways to Truth: From Fear to Liberation 127

Meditation: Walking Meditation 133

14 Embracing the Road: How We Remember, Assess, Express, and Find Meaning137

Meditation: Letting Go through the Breath 142

15 Between Life, Between People: How We Forgive, Reconcile, Express Gratitude, and Love 145

Meditation: Boundless Abodes for Transforming Relationships 149

16 The Great Matter: There is Mo One Right Way 151

Meditation: Encountering Death 159

17 The Broken Pine Branch: Deaths of Acceptance and Liberation 163

Meditation: Dissolution of the Elements after Death 172

18 Gratitude for the Vessel: Care of the Body after Death 179

Meditation: Charnel Ground Meditation 185

19 River of Loss: The Plunge of Sorrow 189

Meditation: Encountering Grief 195

Afterword: Being One with Dying 197

Acknowledgments 203

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Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Judy_Croome More than 1 year ago
BEING WITH DYING is specifically aimed at professional caregivers, but non-professional caregivers, such as family members and friends who provide caregiving for a dying person, will find excellent support to guide them along their spiritual path. With unflinching honesty and deep compassion for the dying person, Halifax explores all the aspects of dying and death that, in being with a dying person, a caregiver may experience. She deals with the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional processes that dying activates and how this affects both the dying person and those around him. There was some bias against family members and friends acting as caregivers to the dying. All her empathy lies with the dying person, which is as it should be, but Halifax is, at times, quite unsympathetic to the emotional pain, suffering and struggle from the family caregivers’ side. Her negative view of caretaker archetypes reveals a subtle disdain for the role of family caregivers. Unfortunately, this slightly detracts from the inherent wisdom of her advice and Buddhist philosophy. Not all of us have the temperament or self-mastery to become a detached caregiver. All non-professional caregivers do is try to give their loved ones the best that they can out of love. Yes, with hindsight, the mistakes they make may have made dying more difficult for the departing soul, but the resulting guilt also makes the loss harder to bear even when the non-professional caregiver knows the loved one’s soul is finally at peace. Halifax’s compassion was all for the dying and there was very little left over for the family members living for years in that strange limbo between deep love, anticipatory grief and impending loss. Despite this, the wise reflections, the meditations and the practical advice presented in BEING WITH DYING helped me through the very trying time of my beloved Father’s active dying. Coincidentally, I started reading this book the night he had his third and final stroke, and I finished it 11 days later, the day after his funeral. I regret that I only found this book three years after my role as caregiver to my Father began, because I can see the mistakes I made, despite having help from a professional caregiver for the last 18 months. But I do gain some small comfort from the fact that, in the 6 days it took my beloved Father to actively die, I feel this book truly helped me ease his path slightly (by just sitting quietly with him and following his lead.) I also found the breathing meditations helped me calm my mind and relax my body during this intensely emotional time. Ultimately, BEING WITH DYING was a worthwhile and comforting read for me. I highly recommend BEING WITH DYING, no matter what stage of the caregiver’s role you are currently in.
JudyCroome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
BEING WITH DYING is specifically aimed at professional caregivers, but non-professional caregivers, such as family members and friends who provide caregiving for a dying person, will find excellent support to guide them along their spiritual path.With unflinching honesty and deep compassion for the dying person, Halifax explores all the aspects of dying and death that, in being with a dying person, a caregiver may experience. She deals with the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional processes that dying activates and how this affects both the dying person and those around him.There was some bias against family members and friends acting as caregivers to the dying. All her empathy lies with the dying person, which is as it should be, but Halifax is, at times, quite unsympathetic to the emotional pain, suffering and struggle from the family caregivers¿ side. Her negative view of caretaker archetypes reveals a subtle disdain for the role of family caregivers. Unfortunately, this slightly detracts from the inherent wisdom of her advice and Buddhist philosophy. Not all of us have the temperament or self-mastery to become a detached caregiver. All non-professional caregivers do is try to give their loved ones the best that they can out of love. Yes, with hindsight, the mistakes they make may have made dying more difficult for the departing soul, but the resulting guilt also makes the loss harder to bear even when the non-professional caregiver knows the loved one¿s soul is finally at peace. Halifax¿s compassion was all for the dying and there was very little left over for the family members living for years in that strange limbo between deep love, anticipatory grief and impending loss. Despite this, the wise reflections, the meditations and the practical advice presented in BEING WITH DYING helped me through the very trying time of my beloved Father¿s active dying. Coincidentally, I started reading this book the night he had his third and final stroke, and I finished it 11 days later, the day after his funeral. I regret that I only found this book three years after my role as caregiver to my Father began, because I can see the mistakes I made, despite having help from a professional caregiver for the last 18 months. But I do gain some small comfort from the fact that, in the 6 days it took my beloved Father to actively die, I feel this book truly helped me ease his path slightly (by just sitting quietly with him and following his lead.) I also found the breathing meditations helped me calm my mind and relax my body during this intensely emotional time. Ultimately, BEING WITH DYING was a worthwhile and comforting read for me. I highly recommend BEING WITH DYING, no matter what stage of the caregiver¿s role you are currently in.
DanaJean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Joan Halifax has written a wonderful book offering help to those who are dying and their caregivers. I recently lost my mother to breast cancer and my emotions and thoughts are so jumbled and scary, I'm on a journey to come to peace with it all. My anger has overwhelmed me; my despair and depression have crippled me; and my loneliness has dominated my days. This book has reassured me about myself personally and has validated my 2 years of care giving--care giving that left me feeling inadequate, impotent, and had me believing I was a horrible daughter and person who now doesn't deserve to have any happiness in my life because I didn't do enough. I still have a long ways to go in my own spiritual recovery, but, this book will be one I go back to frequently on those dark days when I'm beating myself up. I just wish I would have found this book before my mom passed away. Before my whole world changed. I recommend this to every single human being walking this earth. Because someday, you will experience Being with Dying.I miss my mom.
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