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Wise Caregiving Posts

Balanced Caregiving

How embracing paradox helps you help others ENTERING THE ROOM It was my first day as a volunteer hospital chaplain. The nursing supervisor cast a sideways glance at my Zen robes and said, ‘You must be the new chaplain. They need you in there. Now.’  She pointed to Room 9.  Until that moment, I believed that decades of contemplative practice had prepared me to face the unknown. After all, my demons had visited again and again, and I’d learned to offer a balanced, caring response.  But as I opened the door to Room 9, I fell out of balance and…


What Should I Do?

Since I was a child, I’ve carried the question, ‘What should I do?’ I’ve looked at the confusing world and wondered how to understand this and respond to that. The question ‘What should I do?’ seems particularly poignant today as we face a global pandemic. What should we, people embedded in wealth, security, and relationships, do?  Bodhisattvas (beings who aspire to work for the benefit of all) tackle this question directly. They see that everyone is suffering and needs help. We who are on the path of practice are also Bodhisattvas. So how do we tackle this question and help…

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3rd Act Magazine Interview

Jonathan Prescott is interviewed by author Connie McDougall for her article, Be Chill, My Heart: The Science Behind Heartbreak and How to Cope With It in 3rd Act, Fall 2019. We discuss how to face difficulty without becoming overwhelmed.

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Honoring Our Ancestors

Honoring our ancestors is an act of love. We didn’t appear out of thin air; those who came before us created the conditions necessary for us to live and (hopefully) thrive. Noticing and offering gratitude for those gifts honors our ancestors – and also brings us joy. Physical Ancestors Knowing who our ancestors are isn’t as simple as it seems. I look a lot like my parents, so I’m pretty confident that I’m related to the people who loved, fed, clothed, and raised me. But my intuition that ‘these folks are mine and those aren’t’ doesn’t survive close scrutiny. Anthropologists…

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Finding Stillness Within Chaos

This photo of a courtyard in the 800-year-old Liuyuan Garden in Suzhou, China is both true and untrue. It is, in fact, a beautiful, tranquil space that reflects the best of Chinese design. Yet I also had to wait a considerable time for the boisterous human visitors to clear before this peaceful photograph was possible. My practice while in China was to find stillness within chaos. The noise, crowds, confusion, and pollution were pervasive and confounded my usual way of being. Living on a quiet island, I have honed an ability to be present for whatever is present. But in…

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Alzheimer’s Association Q&A

This question and answer session was posted to the Alzheimer’s Association blog and reposted here. Enjoy! Jonathan Prescott is the founder of Wise Caregiving, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people become effective, sustainable and empathetic caregivers. Jonathan’s career as a hospice, cancer-care and hospital Chaplain, along with his spiritual practice as an ordained student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, gives him a unique perspective on how to thrive within the helping professions. His trainings help people learn the arts of listening, balance, boundaries and presence as a therapeutic tool. Q: You’re presenting on “The Art of Listening” at the Discovery…

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Four Simple Ways To Offer Yourself Compassion

Caregivers are motivated by compassion. We see a need and jump in with both feet because we mistakenly believe that compassion asks us to give ourselves away. But true compassion cares for both giver and receiver. It leaves nothing out, including you. I’d like to propose four simple practices that bring you into the circle of compassion. These take no extra time. They aren’t one more thing to do. Rather, they change how you relate to activities you’re already doing so you can receive short bursts of refreshment throughout your day. Walking Walking is a miracle. Our young brains devoted…

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Finding Support

Caregiving can feel overwhelming. Whether we’re a solitary companion caring for our loved one or an unsupported professional laboring under a high caseload, it sometimes feels like we’re bearing more responsibility than we can carry.  Contemplative traditions have developed ways of mining deep wellsprings of energy and connection to help us become more effective and sustainable caregivers. One of those spiritual technologies is the practice of touching our essential interconnection using objects and rituals. Let’s look at how we can use this contemplative wisdom in our caregiving. Symbols of Connection Our culture tells us that we are separate. We value…

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