Sunday, February 13, 2011

Buddha's Teachings about Breathing

The Buddha's Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing is a reminder to bring breath, body and mind into harmony, with breathing serving as an anchor as well as a place to begin to go home and reconcile with oneself.

The Body
1.      Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.
2.      Breathing in, my breath goes deep. Breathing out, my breath goes slow.
3.      Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I calm my body.
4.      Breathing in, I know I am alive. Breathing out, I smile.

5.      Breathing in, I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel joyful.
6.      Breathing in, I feel happy. Breathing out, I feel happy.
7.      Breathing in, I am aware of feelings present in my body and mind at this moment. Breathing out, I touch the feelings that are making me suffer.
8.      Breathing in, I calm those feelings leaving my body and mind peaceful. Breathing out, I am grateful.

The Mind
9.      Breathing in, I am aware of the activity present in my mind at this moment. Breathing out, I concentrate my mind and look deeply.
10.    Breathing in, I untie knots created by unhelpful thinking or imaginings. Breathing out, I embrace and quiet all of my thoughts.
11.    Breathing in, I gladden my mind. Breathing out, I water the seeds of loving kindness and compassion.
12.    Breathing in, I cultivate forgiveness. Breathing out, I liberate my mind.

The Objects of the Mind
13.    Breathing in, I observe all things transforming. Breathing out, I recognize their impermanent nature.
14.    Breathing in, I detect the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I experience non-craving.
15.    Breathing in, I observe the cessation of erroneous ideas. Breathing out, I see suffering born from ignorance fading away.
16.    Breathing in, I let go of the idea that I did not exist before I was born. Breathing out, I let go of the idea that I will not exist after I die.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Rituals can transform a situation. At the end–of–life, they help a person die a peaceful death, and bring reconciliation and acceptance to loved ones. Rituals come in many forms addressing the physical world (body), thoughts and ideas (mind), and the realms of myth (soul) and spirit (energy); helping to heal the pain of letting go, while at the same time connecting those bearing witness with something beyond earthly concerns.
Many religions have in common:
Creating a peaceful, soothing atmosphere,
Appealing to the senses,
Helping the dying person and all present to sense a sacred presence 
Some tools:
Lighting: Soft incandescent lighting or burning candles to bring feelings of peace and tranquility.
Aromas: Burning sage, scented candles, essential oils, or incense to induce a calming effect.
Holy Objects: An altar arranged with spiritually meaningful articles, medallions, statues or pictures to offer a visual focus.
Music: To soothe and inspire. Certain instruments such as harps, drums or bells, are used in many traditions. Sounds of nature and the human voice can be very healing.
Prayer: Oral prayer in keeping with the dying person's tradition
Silence: An important sound. It is good to remember the value and necessity of simply sitting in silence with the dying person.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Self Compassion

Germer, Christopher K. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion. New York: The Guildford Press. 2009

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life” - from the Introduction

This book was written to help readers develop and strengthen their capacity for self-compassion and loving-kindness. The author believes enhancing one’s skills in these areas reduces the isolation and inevitable personal suffering that results from self-judgment, self-doubt and self-condemnation: Extending kindness to oneself as a healing strategy boosts self-esteem, increasing the likelihood of being more fully able to extend these aspirations to others.

Germer travels the path to self-compassion from the perspectives of mindfulness and loving-kindness. His basic premise is that life is tough. It is just not possible to avoid feeling bad sometimes. He argues, since feeling bad is a fact of the human condition, then recognizing the common humanity in this experience bestows permission to treat oneself with the same kindness we afford to others.

Throughout the text, the author asks questions for the reader to ponder and introduces them in a step-by-step fashion to practical techniques and exercises that support the development of mindfulness, loving-kindness meditation and self-compassion skills. Practicing these techniques is encouraged as a means to strengthen and expand one’s repertoire for dealing with negative emotions.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I apologize to readers of this blog for ceasing to post without explanation. Amidst completing the requirements for the Palliative Medicine fellowship, moving from Ottawa to Winnipeg and starting two new positions, I lost one beloved relative to a COPD exacerbation and two very dear friends, one to cancer and the other unexpectedly but peacefully. Two other friends have been diagnosed with advanced cancer in the past few months. My world has become noticeably smaller and I am grieving these losses. I assumed the role of Executrix for the first time in yet another city, and experienced first hand the enormity of this task. Other responsibilities continue..... I cannot commit to regular posts, but I enjoyed blogging very much and miss this form of exploration and self expression. I will add to this site as I am able.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Natural Instincts

Wild Geese
~Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.                                      
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,                      
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination,               calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May Grand Rounds

Here is the link to Palliative Care May Grand Rounds hosted by Thaddeus Pope.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Measures of Inner Peace

  1. An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  3. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  4. A loss of interest in judging other people.
  5. A loss of interest in judging self.
  6. A loss of interest in conflict.
  7. A loss of the ability to worry.
  8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  10. Frequent bouts of smiling.
  11. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
  12. An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it. 
~Saskia Davis

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    La Neuvaine & La Donation: Film Review

    To enlarge this article, click on the 'full' button in the toolbar underneath the article. To close the article after it has been opened, tap the escape button on the computer keyboard:

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Defining Palliative Care

    This blog post entitled, "Palliative care needs a simple and consistent message"  at is worth reading.