The Art of Presence

Martha deBarros: So we’re finding a way to
be at home in our own scale. Placing the hands either on the
arms of the chair or resting on your thighs or folded in your lap, softening the belly
and relaxing the whole lower body and letting that softening extend through the thighs and
the calves to the soles of the feet. Joining our breath we go inside. [Striking of instrument] Let the healing breathe move through you,
all over parts of your body. One could even have the experience of the breath breathing
you. I thought you know I know that many of you
are ambulatory and can drive and many of you aren’t and that you are in a time of life
where the great questions of life and death are coming up you know, I mean, we’re asked
in our Buddhist practice to think about them all the time but at this age–at our ages
there is no choice but to think about them so to me that’s the kind of nub of practice
is to look at what is this living you know what is this dying that we’re doing together? Dr. Richard Mendius: We know from studies
that have already been done looking at thicknesses of the cortex of the brain or the [indiscernible]
[00:04:23] that’s on the outside that in people who are long term meditators there are some
very interesting areas of the cortex in the parietal lobes and down in the hippocampus,
which is the hippocampus is the memory storage, that these areas get thicker and they get
thicker by as much as a millimeter which in the brain is tremendous distance and so it
seems that there is that there’s data that now begins to suggest that a meditative practice
begun early and continued on has protective affects against some of the things that we
see happening in aging brains which is loss of neurons, loss of the synaptic connections
between one neuron and the next neuron. Martha deBarros: Sitting there you will have
a glimpse of beauty inside the body, before gardens and after gardens. Richard Moore: I first started meditating
in right after World War II when daily I would climb up a hill and sit at the base of a cypress
tree and try to reach that state of being in which the individual is no longer distinguishable
from the sun or the sheep or the grasses or anything on the hill. There were a few moments
of ecstatic realization of that. It did not carry on into a subsequent life, in the reaming
50 years there were so much activity that meditation became in a sense almost a luxury
stepping aside from the time frame to be quiet. Katie Diepenrock: I have had a practice of
sitting for quite a few years and I say sitting rather meditating because I never can recognize
that I really meditate but the whole idea of just opening getting out of my own way
and allowing another sense to come through me is what I do and I think that looking back
I do believe that the practice has really brought me through a lot of rough water. Doris: Yeah, well I found when my daughter
died that the quiet support of this group was very, very helpful. It was a rather sudden
death and I missed her very much, she’ll do, but the just this quiet support I felt I got
from all of you was meant a lot. Martye Kent: Its been an equalizing force
in my life to keep equanimity particularly here where I thought I was coming to retire
and my family life bubbled up so I don’t think I’ve had ever had such an active view. Betty McAfee: Just breathing, mostly paying
a lot of attention to my breath and trying to quiet the anxiety or the letting the breath
go to where the pain is and it’s really that wonderful thing in these last few months. Audrey Hazen: Being with my own pace, the
pacing I’ve had in my life which is changing and being peaceful with some limitations another
challenge is care giving with Betty and working that so that we’re both in a state of right
relationship, good relationship. Dr. Nader Shabahangi: Mindfulness in some
ways is a reminder to make that kind of a deep connection with another human being not
just for the sake of the person that I care for but also for my own sake because as I
am sitting with you I am fully here and I am not thinking about the next moment and
what else I have to do but I am with you. And that’s a gift to me being in the now,
being in the moment and that’s a gift to you because you will really notice if I am really
here with you. [Music recital on piano] Sushi Frausto: These are all the behind the
scenes pictures and I’m here. My gosh look at those outfits, can you see the element,
pretty foxy, I tell you. There is a description of mindfulness that
I think is really nice it’s really short, it’s paying attention in the moment consciously
openly. With elders a lot of times they don’t have the words to explain what they need to
explain. We have a lot of people here who are completely nonverbal, so in that sense,
you really have to pay attention in other ways otherwise you are never going to be able
to connect with them. You have to watch their face; you have to watch their body movements
you have to listen to their tone. You know if they are saying something with low energy
but they are really smiling they might just not have the energy to say it more vividly,
so that smile says a lot. Dr. Nader Shabahangi: I think senior approaches
or the traditional approach is that senior care are often still based on maintaining,
almost for lack of a better word, the biology of a person. So they are not very much emphasizing
the physical functioning and the physical wellness which is really important of course.
But they do often fail or they are not as good in providing the emotional, psychological,
and spiritual care for a person who is in the last years of life. And especially in
the last years of life those are really big components of who we are. [Music] Sushi Frausto: Who is it? Thanks for playing
with me. Its pretty tough isn’t it? Yeah and you know what’s interesting about this instrument
is the way its designed is that all of these notes sound good together, so you can play
any note and its made to sound good. So we can sheath basically. We can sheath, no matter
what we play it sounds good. The more mindful you can be with somebody,
the more you can learn about them and the more you can learn about them the more you
can touch them and connect with them and if you can’t connect with someone there is no
way you are going to be able to do you know daily acts with them like showering and helping
them eat breakfast you have to know them because those are really intimate things that you
are doing with somebody. Dr. Nader Shabahangi: If to deeply care constitutes
somehow the pinnacle of life in terms of the meaning. If I can deeply care for another
human being to a point where I have lost track of time, where I don’t even know that time
exists because I am so present with you. That very moment is the moment of I wouldn’t even
call it enlightenment right, I have forgotten myself, I am so with you and I am so with
you, giving what I can give to you which is my love and my care and I don’t think there
is anything in life that’s bigger than that. [Music] Martha deBarros: I made you myself and I have
so much appreciative what I have learnt from all of you and I feel like I actually have
to confess I think that some part of me kind of had this idea of a group of old people
and that’s not what it is its not who we are you know we’re a group of these extraordinarily
experienced, creative, honest, afraid people you know we’re so willing to wear our heart
on our sleeves in this group and I always feel like I am coming home when I come here. [Music] Martye Kent: My life has been entirely different
because something comes along and eases me almost as if it says don’t sweat, just go
with it so I have lived this long and I am going to keep going. [Music]

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