By Kees Lodder
In my practice as a homeopathic doctor, I see a lot of people with chronic illnesses. As a major part of my work, counseling gives me the opportunity to share with other human beings as they open up to life and death. It enables me to open more as well. Patients help me with my fear of illness and dying. They bring me back to seeing the interconnectedness of all things. I am there with them, looking together for a little opening, a door not yet opened, some holding back, always leading to an opening to the joy and peace that lie in the heart of suffering. When I breathe with my patients and open with them, I often feel their feelings, their pain. This helps me understand things from a place other then my head.
A woman dying of breast cancer, lying in bed and watching a tree through the window, saw a bird land on one of its branches. Suddenly she realized that life would continue and that she didn't need to be scared of death anymore. When she told me this, my fear of death diminished and I could see life around me a little clearer.
The challenge is to trust myself in my work, to not only rely on my knowledge of techniques, but to trust what comes up in the moment. I don't always find this easy. Often I haven't created enough space for myself to contact this place, so when the separation between me and my patient disappears, I become afraid and resist it I'm often scared of letting go.
I have experimented with different ways of creating space during the day at work. I have many opportunities to come back to myself and my breath — while listening to others, guiding visualization exercises, and taking a few conscious breaths after each consultation. I have tried sitting meditation at lunchtime, but this doesn't work for me. It's got something to do with the energy inside me needing more space, needing to go out more, and become lighter. Now I do walking meditation during my lunch break on the hill close to my office. There are many beautiful trees and birds there and a fantastic view over the city and harbor. I try to be in touch with the beautiful things around me — the clouds, the sky, the trees, and the birds. Other times I go for a swim and get in touch with the water, the feeling of gliding through the water, and the sounds. These two ways of revitalizing myself work much better than anything else I have tried.
Kees Lodder is an active member of the Long White Cloud Sangha in New Zealand.