1. The individual who has the principal responsibility for caring for a child or dependent adult, especially in the home. Also called caretaker
2 a medical or other professional who assists in the management of an illness or disability
1 to give tender care and protection to a child, a young animal, or a plant, helping it to grow and develop
2 to encourage somebody or something…to grow, develop, thrive, and be successful
3 to keep a feeling in the mind for a long time, allowing it to grow or deepen
1 care and protection…. or support and encouragement given to something to help it develop
It is interesting that Encarta’s definition of nurture refers specifically to children and young animals when all of us, at various points in time, are in need of nurturing. Seriously ill patients are in need of competent caretaking, but the equally important and often complex question of Nurture cannot be disregarded for either patients or the family members, spouses and partners who take care of them. Nurture connects to the energy of the Mother in all her divinity; it is the cup from which we drink not only to “grow and develop” but also to refill the well that gives us strength in the face of stress and adversity.
Nurture helps a patient stay grounded in the energies of the heart even when the going is tough and faith is being tried. Nurture replenishes the stores of energy required to keep family caretakers standing when exhaustion or discouragement set in.
So where –and how- do we get nurtured? The answer will differ from one person to the next, but there are several themes that present themselves often enough to bear exploration.
Spiritual practice: prayer; meditation; dialogue with Spirit, the Ancestors, Guides or Angels; are all ways that people connect to their faith as a means of internal strength. Guided meditations and visualizations have been documented as powerful healing tools. Sound healing is another, lesser-known piece of spiritual practice that dates back to ancient Siberia. Sacred music has manifested through the ages as church and temple music, and most recently with sound healers, musicians who create healing vibrations with voice and instruments.
Community: we all need people we can turn to for emotional sustenance when much is being given outward. Our friends, neighbors, therapists or other talk-healers; priest, rabbi, imam, pastor or spiritual teacher can all give an ear and often offer sound advice. Frequently all we need is for someone to listen and hold a space for us to discharge our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we need to be angry and sometimes we need to shed tears. Sometimes we just need to sit with someone who has “been through it” and can understand the challenges we face. We can also ask that our friends and mates help us to remember to take care of ourselves if we are caring for someone ill.
Healing Touch: Touch is one of the most powerful healing tools available to us, and also one of the most personal. Finding someone with whom we feel comfortable and trusting, and who can give us good healing energy is crucial for both patients and caregivers. It’s important to understand that what works for one of us often isn’t the answer for the other. Healing work is, in some regards, as deeply personal and subjective as chemistry between lovers. Listen to your body. Do you feel that the healer really saw and held your energy? Do you feel renewed, energized and nurtured by your session? Do the positive after-effects spill over for at least a few days? The answer to all these questions should be “yes”. Some modalities to explore are Deep Tissue Work; Qi Gong, Shiatsu, Thai or Tui Na healing massage; Barbara Brennan Healing Touch; Reiki; Rising Star, and a myriad of others.
Play: Taking time to go to the movies, exercise, play sports, socialize, dance, and most especially, to LAUGH, is critical and should be considered essential. We often neglect our joy factor when serious illness strikes and it is crucial to our well-being.
Healing Food: Never under-estimate the power of homemade food prepared with love. Once again, this is not a one size fits all process, and should be based on the size, constitution, overall health, blood type, ancestral coding, and needs of the individual. We will explore this in greater depth, but a good starting point is to look at he following articles: Macrobiotic and Whole Foods Cooking: What’s the Difference?; A Whole Foods Diet: The Why and The How; and The Basic Detoxification Diet: A Gentle Body Cleansing Primer.
Deep Listening:For many, this is the hardest part of all, for it asks that we be inside ourselves. Not in our fear, not in our sickness, not in our grief or anger. Deep listening means we connect to the part of us that is timeless and divine. We listen to the deep wisdom of the body and its needs. We connect through the heart, and through compassion and love to a place in us that is deep beyond measure, eternal and all encompassing.