Christine Longaker: Author, Palliative Care and Self-Compassion Trainer
My passion is uncovering the tapestry that connects us all, and seeing the weave, the colors, the light and shadow. Sometimes it takes my breath away, like a beautiful stained-glass window suddenly illuminated by sunlight. There is a beauty and connectedness comes from our suffering, our hard-earned wisdom of letting go, and from those moments of tender-hearted support we offer each other on our journey through life. During the forty years I’ve given professional trainings in palliative care and spiritual care, I was deeply moved to witness the courage of participants who were willing to heal old hurts or long-standing grief.
We learn from each other, in this give-and-take, and, when we’re clear and aware, we enrich each other in every gesture and word of kindness. Sometimes, by releasing an old pain, or letting go of a story or pattern that no longer serves us, our inner radiance returns, re-kindling a joy for life we thought we’d lost! For me, resilience isn’t just the capacity to survive adversity, resilience is also buoyancy, a vivid aliveness that is connected to the whole of life.
When all seems bleak, beauty restores me: walking by a lake, capturing a photograph of a scene that inexplicably touches me, or reading a poem by Mary Oliver, John O’Donohue, or Rumi. There’s an inner beauty manifesting, too, in quiet moments of stillness and openness, turning toward the presence of my true self.
I always had a sense that there’s a deeper reality, beyond what we call “normal” life. I’ve studied a variety of spiritual perspectives, including the meditation methods heralding from the Jewish faith, and Christian contemplative paths. Since 1981, I’ve been practicing and teaching meditation and the cultivation of compassion from the Buddhist tradition.
After a recent period of profound challenges and loss, my heart and mind turned in the direction of self-compassion. It’s been a meaningful journey of rediscovery, as I’ve come to understand my life, and others, in a deeper and more compassionate way. I’ve learned to tap into the grace of self-forgiveness, even in the midst of difficult situations. I am inspired to offer these insights and tools for developing self-compassion, reconnecting with our natural kindness, and finding healing and peace.
More about Christine Longaker
Christine Longaker co-founded one of the first home care hospices in California in 1978, and helped establish the international Spiritual Care Program in 1993, in which she trained teams of caregivers who collectively brought the vision of compassionate care for the dying to over 30,000 people. Her book, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, is published in eight languages. For forty years, Longaker has become an internationally renowned teacher on meditation, compassion, and care for the dying. Her trainings inspired the founding of four hospices and two spiritual care centers.
Longaker was developer and faculty for the six-month “Contemplative End-of-Life Care” training that was accredited by Naropa University in Colorado. The long-term benefits of spiritual care training were demonstrated in research she co-authored that was published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine in 2005.
Because self-compassion is the most vital ingredient for inner healing, building resilience and the precursor for having compassion for others, Christine’s vision is to bring the skills and methods of self-compassion to many areas of endeavor. This, combined with her decades of spiritual training and skill in communicating with diverse audiences, bring unique insights and powerful methods to the work.
©2018, text and photo: Christine Longaker
Enjoy the Meditation: “Feeling Worthy of Love”
“The Benefits of Integrating Compassion in Healthcare”, Empathy and Compassion in Society, London, November 2012
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