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Benefits of nursing

Yesterday, I was having a tough time with several aspects I am seeing over and over again in hospitals.  However, in spite of staffing issues and strained working conditions, there is a reason nurses are the most trusted profession (people) in the United States – and yes, more so than fire fighters!

From the perspective of Buddhism, there might not be a better profession to be in.  In Buddhism we talk about right livelihood – which profession could I be in that causes the least amount of harm to people (and brings them the most benefit)?  We have to be very skillful when looking at what causes harm – does nursing produce a lot of pollution?  Does it cause a lot of trees to be cut down?  Are there occasional mistakes that do cause harm?  Yes, maybe (although electronic medical records has greatly reduced paper waste) and yes.

One thing I definitely appreciate about nursing is that almost every decision we make is based upon weighing the benefits versus the risks.  Therefore we are constantly thinking about benefiting patients (while causing the least amount of harm).

And another benefit to nursing, which might sound strange, is seeing all the suffering in our patients.  People, for the most part (at least in the United States), are ignorant of what causes diseases to progress.  They are ignorant of how to take care of their bodies.  They are often ignorant of what it means to eat a healthy diet.  And this ignorance takes its toll when degenerative diseases, or the diseases of aging, show up.  A lot of diseases can be prevents – kidney failure, hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, etc etc.  But by the time a patient is seeing me, they often have more than one or two of these difficult syndromes. And I am just a nursing student.

Also in Buddhism (are you detecting a theme yet?), we are taught to contemplate the preciousness of being in a healthy, functioning human rebirth (body).  If we can walk and talk and hear and see, then we can possibly do prostrations, chant mantras and prayers, hear teachings and read the Dharma scriptures and texts.  If any one of these sense faculties is missing, then we are no longer considered to be in possession of all 18 leisures and endowments.  Which is why it is so important to protect our bodies from harm – even from slow decades long harm which is very insidious.

Now I’m not advocating strict asceticism.  If we are able to, we should enjoy a dessert from time to time.  We should enjoy a glass of wine (if appropriate) from time to time.  But just be aware of factors which increase diseases significantly – like smoking cigarettes.  And it is smart to get a regular, annual physical – hypertension (high blood pressure) is known as the “silent killer” for a reason!  By the time you notice the symptoms, irreversible damage has already been done.  😦

So if I don’t get anything else out of nursing except a good education about how the body works and stays in homeostasis AND seeing suffering and realizing how fortunate I am to be able to put the Dharma teachings into practice, then that is fine!  That may be all I need.  Maybe I can even be of benefit to others.

Thank you for reading and may all beings be able to practice right livelihood!

~KM

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Among other areas of study – like astrology, Buddhism and emotional-process-oriented-bodywork – I also work in a restaurant to pay the bills.

According to most people who pay attention to benefits that employees offer, they would say that my job is a great one.  We have good health insurance, an HSA account, good 401K program after working there for a while, etc etc.  We have great benefits yes.

But I have noticed a trend over the past few years.  And I think in management’s defense, it is / was a response to the recession of 2008 / 2009.  The trend is to cut and slash one thing from employees each year.  In 2008, they slashed away tenure based raises – seriously – most people who had been working there for years saw their wages slashed by $2.00 – $4.00 / hour.  That was the worst.  I wasn’t working there at the time.  As an employee who primarily makes tips, I would not have seen a cut from my $2.13 / hour wage…

But each year, we have less positions, less staff to do the same amount of work.  Basically management is wringing all they can get out of their lower staff members.  And still they make cuts.  It doesn’t exactly make sense to us employees – we have only one host on staff and yet the restaurant is open from 7 am until 11 pm, 7 days a week.  What that means is that there are people who call to make a reservation and they don’t get called back for at least 3 to 4 days.  Some people are growing upset.  And we lose more and more business as a result (management doesn’t seem to realize that sometimes, to make money, you have to spend a little to begin with – or at least invest in your employees!).

But here is why I mention this: I am also in nursing school.  And I for the most part, I am noticing that same trend in hospitals as well.  In nursing school, we are taught in a very strict manner, that everything must be done a certain way – doctor’s orders are meant to be followed explicitly.  But when you are short one or two nurses on a floor…  some things start to go.  The first hospital I was in actually had a surplus of nurses – I have heard that they pay $2 – $3 / hour less for their nurses, but at least there is not the intense stress of having to give medications to eight patients within an hour – if each patient is getting an average of 8 – 10 meds…  and as nurses we are supposed to do a thorough assessment on each patient the first time we are seeing them.  But giving all those meds and doing a thorough assessment on each in one hour?  Are you kidding me?

As a future nurse, I don’t want this level of stress.  Yes nurses do pretty well – they start out making anywhere from $21 to $26 an hour depending on the hospital and the work load.  And it swiftly goes up from there.  But they have to be able to predict what the doctor is going to order, they make recommendations to doctors about what a patient might need, they are responsible if a patient starts to take a turn for the worse and they do 90% of the patient care (when compared to doctors).

I’m at the point where I just have to accept what I am seeing.  Right?  Maybe this is America.  Corporate America.  It really is all about the bottom line.  Hopefully I can swallow my desire for a constantly safe working environment that has very few stressors in it.  Because it seems that if I am working as a nurse in a hospital…  I will have to develop a thick skin and constantly move forward – to expand my nervous system’s functional range, and to self-regulate over and over again.

In order to end on a positive note…  at least as a nurse I can get paid to be of benefit to others.  In this time, in this dense frequency of a planet we live on, finding a job that is truly right livelihood is difficult (trying to cause zero harm to self or other is nearly impossible).  But I think nursing can come close – at least that is the initial intention anyway!

Well thanks for reading my ranting…  and feel free to leave a comment  🙂

I had an interesting insight recently, on the bodywork table.  I want to blend all of my lives into one.  Allow me to explain.

I seem to lead multiple lives.  And somehow I mostly do it in a healthy manner.  There are very few people in my circle of friends who know all that I do.  For instance, from 2004 to 2007, I taught astrology classes and I continue to see astrology clients to this day – although school is keeping me quite busy and it is rare to do many charts in a given year.  But that could be considered one life.  Another life is my bodywork.  This feeds me, this is my self care, my rock, my foundation.  I have done so much work on my body that somatic information is the clearest, purest, no-strings-attached information I can possibly access.  When my autonomic nervous system is activated, I know it pretty quickly – just check in with my digestion or my skin (or my brain stem if I am near the verge of overwhelm and shock).  And I have tools to resource my ANS to come back to self-regulation and if I need assistance, I call one of the many great practitioners Charlottesville has to offer.

Meditation and Dharma practice are rewarding, insightful, grounding and enhancing for the intuition and clarity.  However I am constantly surprised by how it is possible to have spiritual experiences on the bodywork table.  It is as if emotional-process-oriented and resourcing bodywork get us in touch with the source of life.  The source that we come from before we are born and then we swiftly forget.  It can be very powerful stuff.  So bodywork is yet another life – there are people who only know me as a bodywork teacher / assistant.  And my Dharma practice and supportive sangha is yet another life.  That is three so far…

I mentioned school.  I am in nursing school at the local community college.  This is by far the people who know me least.  I rarely, if ever reveal my astrological knowledge to them.  I do mention the bodywork from time to time, but only if it seems particularly poignant.  But this is definitely another life – my first semester of nursing school had me studying, going to clinical and labs for close to 40 hours a week.  And for a few weeks this current semester, I will go over 40 hours!  And I have not even mentioned my primary job.  I wait tables at an elegant restaurant in a beautiful resort in Charlottesville Virginia.  This is where I spend 30 – 50 hours a week, year-round.  And this is definitely another life.

I am slowly getting into the PPN birth process work with Myrna Martin (and Kate White and Janet Evergreen).  And the group I was a part of in British Columbia, Canada was about the most supportive sangha (without sharing a common religious path) I have ever encountered.  The energetic container up there was so potent, so juicy, so safe and supportive that my nervous system calmed down to levels of relaxation and ease I had not felt in years.  I would love for my life to be able to support more time spent doing this type of work!  (And this could be yet another life to add to my list.)  I am still in touch with several people from that group and if I had the time, I would check in with all of them on a monthly basis.

So that is five (or six) lives right there.  My intention, is to blend all of these lives into one.  I want my work to be who I am, to be what I love, to benefit others, to facilitate healing.  Hopefully when I graduate from nursing school, I may get a glimpse of what I am meant to do.  Because honestly I think that if I were to work in a hospital, that would be a waste of my skills and my brain.  Unless I can work with mothers and infants – perhaps being a certified nurse midwife?  If I was to take nursing to the next level, I would want to do research into the cutting edge area of trauma research.  To look at how early childhood adverse experiences lead to future disease.  The A.C.E. study has flung these doors wide open and I want to explore this area further.

If I don’t go in that direction, then I’m not sure where I will land with the trauma resolution bodywork.  Somatic Experiencing is a great modality.  And blended with the PPN knowledge and polyvagal resourcing, is an incredibly potent combination.  Maybe I will walk in similar footsteps to Janet Evergreen – my main bodywork mentor and teacher.  She is a profound spiritual healer in the Charlottesville area and I am extremely fortunate to be one of her senior students and friends.

Right now though, nursing school plus work are keeping me on my toes.  It is my intention to recognize the value of time, to treasure a day off and not waste it.  If anything, nursing school teaches time management.  May all beings do virtuous activity with their free time.

Hopefully soon I can start to blend all my lives together into one.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Kirby moore

 

Hi all,

A reader of my blog recently sent me an email wondering about aspects between Venus and Uranus, Venus and Neptune and Venus and Saturn.  What do they all mean for them?

As with most astrological questions, my first answer to this question has to be…  “It depends.”  Or “it is complicated.”
What does it depend upon?
  1. The first thing it depends on is what are the planetary strengths of each of those planets?  Venus Neptune Uranus Saturn.  There is a VERY complicated formula for determining this which my professional software figures out really quickly.  But you can get a quick estimate on the big strengths (or debilities) of the planets by looking at the following:
  2. Planetary strengths are higher for planets in their own sign of rulership or the sign they exalt in.  They are higher if they are in the 1st or 10th houses.  They gain a little strength from being in the 4th or 7th houses.
  3. These strengths are weaker (they can even go negative) if the planets are in the signs opposite their rulership or exaltation – where they Fall or Detriment.  Planets are weaker if they are in the 2nd or 6th houses.  Planets are very weak if they fall in the 8th or 12th houses respectively.
  4. See below for an example of how to use this quick Planetary Strength guide:
So the answer to this question depends on Planetary Strengths.  It depends on whether the aspects are Applying or Separating.  It depends on how close in orb the aspects are.  It depends on whether any of those planets are in Critical Degrees.  It might also depend on other aspects to those planets – what is Jupiter doing for instance?
An example of how to use the Planetary Strength guide above:
  • Venus is in Pisces where it exalts – +4 pts
  • Venus is in the 8th house though (where all planets suffer a little bit) and it loses 4 pts as a result
  • Venus is in hard aspect to Uranus and Neptune (basically malefic or neutral) so we can assume it loses another 3 pts
  • But look at that, Venus is also making a trine to Jupiter, so it gains 3 pts
  • For now, Venus is holding steady at Zero Strength (and zero debility)
  • Another planetary strength boon is called Mutual Reception: if this same Venus in Pisces is in the chart with a Neptune in Libra, then this is call mutual reception and both planets gain strength from sharing signs and sharing energy.  Plus Venus and Neptune are on similar wavelengths, so to me, this is even better Strength.
  • So then you would have to look at the complicated stuff to see if Venus gains a few small pts for rising ahead of the sun or setting after it (Occidental or Oriental) and a few other little tidbits like that

If these were all true, then Venus would not be the strongest planet in your chart.  If it fell in the 1st or 10th houses, or if it was not making many hard aspects to challenging planets, that would help pick up its strength.

But please keep in mind that Planetary Strength of planets is the not the Be All End All indicator.  There are ways of working with that 8th house energy (I kind of specialize in this area myself).  There are ways of working with the 12th house energy – if you are clear-headed, open to looking at the tough shadowy areas of our self-awareness and willing to change them.  Being of service and volunteering and practicing kindness creates good karma – which will either benefit you in this present lifetime or in the future.

Personally, in my astrology chart, I have almost half of my planets having negative Strength and yet I have learned ways to self-regulate, I have a regular spiritual practice which helps to center and ground me and I am flexible and open to my inner strengths and weaknesses.  Due to doing thousands of hours of emotional-process-oriented bodywork and somatic processing, I have strengthened my boundaries and areas that I lacked resilience.  I still have a lot of work to do too!  But it is possible to work with any astrology signature!

I hope this helps a little with planetary strength questions.  It is a complex formula however, so you might want to consult a professional astrologer to get the exact planetary strengths of your planets.

Thanks for reading!

~k

I have had several questions recently about which practices I do and how I manage to keep the Buddha-Dharma as my primary path and astrology / emotional-process-oriented bodywork as my secondary path.

Mainly, I want to point out that there will be times in our lives when we have the causes and conditions in place to practice Dharma like our hair was on fire.  Yet even if we have the same desire and motivation, there will also be times when it is most skillful and kind to do less (outer) practice.  I should also point out that I am a dedicated and devoted Buddhist practitioner (what that means I will explain over the next paragraphs), however, I am taking the role of devil’s advocate a bit with regard to how diligently and arduously we should practice and when.

I want to point out that you should always refer to a qualified spiritual master if you have questions about your spiritual practice.  Or find someone who have vastly improved themselves by being on a spiritual path for more than 20 years.  They probably have some wisdom to share [and you will know the wisest people because they are the most humble].

Back to practicing Dharma like my hair was on fire, about 10 years ago, for about 12 months total, I somehow managed to do a long refuge sadhana and do at least a 100 prostrations a day.  Sometimes this took me 3 or more hours to complete.  Those were great months, let me tell you.  Obstacles just seemed to melt away as I approached them.

However…  that was almost 10 years ago.  There is a small chance that I could have continued that level of practice, but here’s the thing – the most beneficial thing for me to do after that initial plunge into serious Dharma practice was to go back to school and finish a graduate program.  My Lamas even told me this – my practice they said was to do well in school.  That could be a mind training practice in and of itself.  Of course, when I had time I should do some prostrations and continue my personal practice on the side.

How does one know how much to practice?  If you listen to the great masters – Tibetan Lamas, monks and nuns who have been on the path for some time, it would be ideal to be practicing a minimum of 3 hours a day, every day and always being mindful to keep our thoughts words and deeds virtuous.  But is this realistic for most of us?

Which one of us has the causes and conditions like Milarepa – being willing and able to survive on starvation “wages” and food while always striving for enlightenment?  I don’t.  I thought I did – at my first 2 week retreat at TMC in Maryland, I would lie on the couch downstairs during breaks and just read the 100,000 Songs of Milarepa and be so inspired.

But now, having lived more of my life and seen more of my inner patterns and activity, I must be realistic.  My Lamas tell me to get married and have a family (definitely not a Milarepa-esque lifestyle).  That right there is evidence that I can only do but so much practice (on my cushion, in my shrine room for hours a day?  Not likely.).  Maybe my practice is relationship yoga.  Being able to soften our edges, to have patience with a partner day in and day out, being able to bring the mirror of self-awareness around to show us our ugly shadow sides – this can also be a practice.  I wonder how many people evade this type of yoga to do more formal Dharma practice?  Maybe a lot, maybe just a few, I don’t know.

Yes, I intend to complete my Ngondro accumulations, but right now I only have one or two down with thousands of hours left to go!  And that is after working on it for eleven years (some more diligently than others).

But if I were to die tomorrow, you know what?  I have spent thousands of hours working toward grounded, embodiment.  I have done hundreds of hours doing Zapchen Somatics retreats and practices (and this is practically a form of Dzogchen).  I have done hundreds of hours of work on my self emotionally and psychologically – I have worked through countless double-binds from my childhood.  And yes, of course I have done thousands of hours of Dharma practice.  So if I die tomorrow, I would have very few regrets.  And I could honestly say that I have accomplished A LOT in this lifetime.  In spite of not having much money to my name right now.  In spite of turning 38 this year and not owning a home (yes, I am still a little hard on myself), the I Ching tells me that I am a treasure of this nation.  A literal diamond in the rough in this frequency-dense, Kali-Yuga-entrenched, degenerate world we live in.

The key is having good support.  If have a history of trauma to work through (and this takes many many forms!), then having a good team around us of mentors, coaches, spiritual teachers, therapists, bodyworkers, medical practitioners is vital.  Being open to their wisdom and advice and knowing when our own inner resistance (which is just suppressed anger manifesting in less-than-beneficial ways) is starting to prevent us from following good advice, is vital.  Being flexible, being mindful, being aware of our own shadow areas – we need many great teachers and tools around us.  It does not happen over night.

Also, if you are fortunate enough to have a qualified spiritual teacher in your life, make certain you are asking the right questions and that they understand what you are asking.  Sometimes I have seen language barriers get in people’s way.  They ask one thing, they get a slightly ambiguous answer back in return, and they assume they know completely what it means.  They do not go back for clarity.  But that is so vital.  If you have any uncertainties, if you have any doubts, clear them up as soon as possible.  However, find a good balance.  Don’t be the person who arranges an interview with the Lama every time he comes through town, only to not do any practice when he is not around.  In other words, don’t waste a precious spiritual teachers time.

Personally, in addition to being surrounded by potent and wise teachers and mentors, I use two tools mainly: the I Ching and Spiritual Astrology.  Julie Henderson’s “The Somatic I Ching (Yi Jing)” [Revealing Story, Training Mind] is a phenomenal resource.  It is an interpretation of the I Ching that is specifically designed for meditation practitioners, bodyworks and psychological explorers.  Yes, I have leaned on it a little heavy at times and it will tell me if I am doing that (there is a line in the book that says, “You have made a premature move and are standing around with egg on your face”).  Yes, it even has a sense of humor!  And it brings the I Ching’s advice into the body, into energy, into awareness.  Powerful stuff.

If we are truly willing and open to knowing what is true, then it is a vital and unrivaled resource.  And of course we must know how to clear our minds so that we are actually asking the question that we think we are asking.  And we have to have faith initially that its advice is specific and not a random combination of coin flips!

In conclusion, it is good to have a daily Dharma practice.  But don’t let it prevent you from living a full and enjoyable life.  If after five years of practicing the Dharma, you have less joy, less awareness or less contentment in your life, then you might be doing something less-than-kind!  Surround yourself with teachers and support, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!  And if possible, develop a relationship with a beneficial divination tool – that way you can get answers to questions without having to phone your teacher every day or every week.

Once you step onto the path of the Buddha-Dharma, it is good to stay on the path.  Just be aware that there are various methods and manners of practicing kindly and efficaciously.  Sometimes it is time to do more inner practice – to let go of the outer practices and rest down and appreciate the inner subtler essences.  And this is why you need a qualified spiritual teacher – to know when to do what and what would be most beneficial to you at that time.

So good luck on your journey!

And thank you for reading,

~km

artwork December 2016

kirby_lion kirby_circles

I did some adult-coloring-book-esque painting and coloring on a canvas recently.  I think they both turned out pretty good.  The art took me 30 – 40 hours per piece.  I had soothing (Craig Pruess) mantras playing when I did the mandalas (circles) piece.  Maybe it shows?

kirby_circles

If you have not read my previous post (yet) I would recommend doing that as this is a continuation of that thread.

One of the questions or recollections to ponder after doing the 8 Jhanas practice is, what insights arose?  What were they?

I don’t think I had any profound insights (but the more you learn about wisdom is that it is usually the simple, organic truths that lead to happiness and peace of mind), but I did learn a little more about myself.

Over the past few years I have trained my mind to plough through obstacles, to push through exams and nursing school tests and classes.  I have developed a powerful brain for learning and memorizing (which a good nurse requires).  However, in the process of doing so, I have a really difficult time slowing down, shutting off, learning to relax and enjoy myself.  Thinking about what I would find enjoyable right now – hiking – involves pushing along a trail.  It all boils down to, left to my own devices, slowing down is quite difficult for me.

That is where the supportive, juicy, slow-paced, organic wisdom of the retreat comes in.  Forcing myself to sit or nap for one or two hours at a time was difficult, but rewarding.  Poetry arises only when the heart is at ease and open and spacious and relaxed.  I have not created much poetry in the past couple years.

If I got any insights from practicing, it would have to be to spend time doing absolutely nothing.  Just sit on the couch, look out the window, purposely go slow.  Just breathe.  And smile.  Cultivating joy is so important – especially in a life stretched near the breaking point with work and school.  Slow down and do something that brings my heart joy.  I want to do more of this in the new year.

It won’t always be easy to attain this.  In fact, most days I will have my schedule forced on my by work and nursing clinical days.  But those moments in between are mine.  I want to spend them relaxing and doing what brings me happiness. And I want to build in more good company.  Sitting at home most of the time is less than ideal – sure some down time is necessary.  Time with my dog is good.  Time on my cushion is good.  But I also want to go out and socialize with people who are supportive and on their own spiritual / healing / truth-seeking journeys.

I need to build in the efficiency without the harshness of mere-goal-oriented thinking.  Yes getting a “C” or better in nursing school is vital.  But I am okay with being close to the bare minimum.  And I will need to keep reminding myself of this every day.  I am smart so getting a “C” is actually unlikely, if I am disciplined.  Yes the NCLEX nursing board exam is a massive undertaking, but I don’t need to fret about that right now.  One right step at a time.

I feel like I am walking on the edge of a blade.  Teeter too far toward old patterns, and I could descend yet again into a dissociative fog for a few months.  Or I can continue to practice restraint, resisting old less-than-kind patterns (computer games, creating board games, etc) and when the time is right, do some virtuous activities.  I am changing my skin.  The serpent energy is becoming active (again).  Which choice will I make at this fork in the road?

I choose to lean into my wisdom and experience, to lean into my ability to be a good teacher down the road.  I have started co-teaching bodywork classes with Janet – she has urged me forward into this role and it is extremely positive for me.  Now I just need to keep on my path most the time.  It is those moments of down time in front of this computer where old weeds start to grow.  I must choose not to water them.  I intend for beauty and joy to flourish in the garden of my mind – might as well start planting those radiant trees now huh?

I might have to back off the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology (Birth Process work) learning that I started this past summer.  Nursing school is enough for now.  I intend to go up to Canada again to participate in the 2-week intensive of this potent material (PPN with Myrna Martin).  But January through May must be taken up with doing enough to pass nursing, working to support myself, and relaxing when I can.

During this semester I might be temporarily of less benefit to others, but that is okay.  I need to find what is sustainable and stable for me first.  This is my New Year’s resolution for 2017:

I am cultivating joy in my inner gardens as I embrace serpentine wisdom and shed old skins of ancestral patterns.

Thanks for reading!