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Welcome to the Pure Land Centre News. This page contains a list of news in reverse chronological order (most recent first)


Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia

Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia [1]

Recently, Alzheimer’s WA published a wonderful article about selecting appropriate Christmas gifts for someone with dementia. It seems to me that these gifts would also be suitable for someone who is dying, perhaps mostly sleeping, finding it difficult to concentrate and not able to communicate well anymore. See what you think.

There is much discussion in the community – and in my family – about the commercialisation of Christmas. Some worry that Christmas draws you into its vortex and you end up spending far more that you planned. Others worry that the oversupply of gifts simply contributes to unsustainability and landfill.

These are not easy considerations, as they are usually weighed against the fact that gift giving is one of the great Christmas traditions, one of the key ways we celebrate those we love at this festive time. It is at this time we are reminded of the old proverb that it is better to give than to receive.

Christmas can also be a time where people feel disconnected, lonely and isolated. What gift is of value to these individuals?

I’d like to throw out my usual Christmas challenge to you, and ask you to consider the gifts you can give that are entirely sustainable and bank account friendly. While these gifts have value and meaning for everyone, they have special meaning for those living with dementia.

Read more on Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc., Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, Dec 2018. Selected from Alzheimer’s WA e-News of December 2018.


Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying

Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying [1]

Introduction

Visiting a person who is very sick or dying can be very beneficial and a wonderful thing to do. But before the visit, it is not unusual to feel a little apprehensive or unsure of yourself. That’s why spending a few quiet minutes deliberately preparing yourself is so important. If that is not possible and the only time you have is driving there, then in the car try to say an appropriate prayer or recite a relevant mantra, such as the mantra of the Medicine Buddha (Tayata Om Bhekandze Bhekandze Maha Bhekandze Bhekandze Soha) or Shakyamuni Buddha (Tayata Om Mune Mune Maha Muniye Soha).

This article is in four sections: preparing for the visit, building trust, helpful practical and spiritual actions, and what to do close to the time of death.

Read more on Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying

[1] Compiled by Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group in 2013: Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington WA 6151. Edited by Len Warren in November 2018, for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha


Medical Aspects of Pain Control

Medical Aspects of Pain Control [1]

What is Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.

The sensation of pain is a useful warning signal that actual or potential damage is occurring or will occur to the body’s tissues. The frequency and intensity of pain varies depending on which particular disease the patient has, how advanced the disease is and what other health problems they are experiencing.

The pain experience is unique to an individual.

It can be magnified by psychosocial stressors, and modified through psychological and emotional support. It is what the person describes and not what others think it ought to be.

In the mid-1960s, Cicely Saunders recognized that there was much more to pain than the medical/physical aspects. She developed the concept of ‘total pain’ – encompassing physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual aspects.

Signs of pain

  • Facial signs: furrowed brow, grimace, eyes closed tight, clenched teeth, taut lips.
  • Body posture signs: very still, stiff, can only get comfortable in one position.
  • Tense, unhappy when they move, or you move them.
  • Appear irritable and withdrawn rather than content.
  • No appetite or excessive appetite.

Helping relieve pain

Find out what helps or makes it worse – movement, massage, support on a pillow, distraction (music, company, television/radio). Find their most comfortable position.

Medicines given to relieve pain increase in strength in the order:

  1. Paracetamol (Non-Opioid)
  2. Panadeine (Mild opioid)
  3. Morphine (Strong Opioid)

Read more on Medical Aspects of Pain Control

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from talks given by Teresa Prior (2006) and Suzie Vojkovic (2013).


Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Cope With Pain

Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Cope With Pain [1]

There is a difference between physical pain, which is a physiological process, and suffering, which is our mental and emotional response to the pain. In general, in addition to physical pain, there is mental pain, from a mind agitated and disturbed by negative thoughts.

Between 2008 and 2012 members of the Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group at Hayagriva Buddhist Centre collected from various sources twenty non-medical ways that people had found useful in trying to cope with their pain.

Here are three of those methods:

  • Realize that there may be others who are experiencing similar or even greater pain than you. Generate the wish that they may be freed from their pain.
  • Realize that reacting to your pain with anger, frustration or despair will not help ease the pain.
  • Given that your pain is not over yet, decide that you will tolerate and accept it. Then you will no longer be its victim.

Read more on Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Help You Cope With Pain and Suffering

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, November 2018. Content assembled by Wheel of Life, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151, Western Australia, 2008-1012.


Visiting Those Dying and in Pain

Visiting Those Dying and in Pain [1]

Before meeting a friend who is experiencing physical or emotional pain, and/or facing the end of their life, sit quietly for a few minutes. Become aware of any thoughts or fears that might impede your receptivity, and connect again with your inherent openness and love by reflecting on your friend’s suffering.

As you settle quietly in meditation and watch your thoughts, you might find that you have fear about the other person’s anguish or concern about your ability to make him feel better. Perhaps you’re already trying to plan what you will say, to feel some control in the uncertain situation ahead. Acknowledge these thoughts and fears, and then allow them to dissolve. You might imagine setting your fears, plans and thoughts in a box next to you and leaving them behind, before going into your friend’s room.

Reflect on your friend’s situation, and let his suffering touch your heart, awakening your compassion and love. No matter how painful the circumstances or how disturbing the physical appearance that you will encounter, remember that your friend has, at the core of his being, the innermost essence of wisdom and compassion. Your role, then, is not to rescue him or give him your solutions, but to help him recall and turn toward his own inner resources.

Read more on What To Do When You Visit Someone Who is Dying and in Pain

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from Chapter 5, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker, Broadway Books, New York 2001, p. 54


Responding to the Suffering of Others

Responding to the Suffering of Others [1]

One of the hardest parts of caregiving work – or life, for that matter – is being asked to help someone whose particular form of suffering we have not experienced ourselves, perhaps one that triggers our deepest fears – for example, the sudden death of a child. How can we respond to a young father’s pain when we don’t even want to imagine what he is going through? What can we possibly offer him?

My experience is that each of us has the same needs when we are suffering. We all need to have our suffering and emotional pain validated. We need to feel safe speaking about and expressing our pain, and to trust that others will understand our feelings. We need to feel that whatever our experience and circumstances, we are respected and unconditionally accepted.

We all need basic human qualities – the reliable presence and love of another person, someone willing to be in regular contact with us for the duration of our journey through suffering. We need others to simply listen and bear witness to our pain, offering support, encouragement, and honesty, tempered with compassion.

Read more on Responding to the Suffering of Others

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from Chapter 5, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker, Broadway Books, New York 2001, p. 54


Good News from the Pure Land

Good News from the Pure Land

We have some good news to share with you. Recently, our application to the State Government to become an incorporated association was quickly approved, without any changes to the constitution. For this our thanks go to our Secretary, whose skills in this area ensured a smooth passage.

Now we can make contracts and accept liabilities without committee members having to take on liabilities personally. It’s like a company but we are a not-for-profit incorporated association. We are all protected now. So we are ready for example to rent premises or accept low or no-interest loans. Of course, there are also certain commitments for us, as an incorporated association, to meet, and the Committee will be assessing these in coming months.

Thanks to the kindness of the Buddhist Society of WA, we were invited to make a Friday night ‘Rains Retreat’ presentation at their Dhammaloka Centre. We gave a talk/meditation on Healing a Relationship by Completing Unfinished Business (view the video of this talk/meditation) and talked about the concept of and recent progress with the Pure Land project. As a result, we welcomed eight new Friends of the Pure Land.

And when you have time please check out some of the articles relevant to preparing for your own death and how to help others who are dying, on our website, for example, how to “Create a Conducive Environment for a Peaceful Death“.


Fear, Stress and Anxiety

Fear, Stress and Anxiety [1]

As we approach our death, it is natural to experience fear, stress and anxiety. People often say, “I’m not afraid of death; it’s the pain and turmoil of dying that worries me.” Others are genuinely concerned about leaving behind everything that has any meaning to them, their family and friends, their possessions, and losing their faculties and ultimately their body. “What will happen to me?” So it is good to learn now about the causes of fear and anxiety and to practice their antidotes. However, modern life is not a help in this regard, because many of us live in constant states of fear, stress or anxiety. This is not necessarily to do with dying; it is the nature of modern life.

As chronic stress becomes a global epidemic, our stress response is being studied intensively to see if we can unwind its mysteries. It turns out that our perspective has a surprising amount of influence over our body’s stress response. When we turn a threat into a challenge, our body responds very differently. What we need is stress resilience. This involves turning what is called ‘threat stress’, or the perception that a stressful event will harm us, into what is called ‘challenge stress’, or the perception that a stressful event is a challenge that will help us grow.

The remedy is quite straightforward. One simply notices the flight-or-fight response in one’s body – the beating heart, the pulsing blood, or the tingling feeling in our hands or face, the rapid breathing – then remembers that these are natural responses to stress and that our body is just preparing to rise to the challenge.

Read more on Fear, Stress and Anxiety

[1] Extracts from: The Book of Joy, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams, Hutchinson: London 2016, selected by Len Warren.


Coping with Pain

Coping with Pain [1]

“Archbishop Tutu, many people, when they get ill, don’t feel very joyful. You’ve been able to maintain that joy in the face of suffering. How have you been able to do it?”

“Well, I have certainly been helped by many other people. One of the good things is realizing you are not a solitary cell. You are part of a wonderful community. That’s helped very greatly. As we were saying, if you set out to be joyful, you are not going to end up being joyful. You’re going to find yourself turned in on yourself. It’s like a flower. You open, you blossom, because of other people. And I think suffering, maybe even intense suffering, is a necessary ingredient for life, certainly for developing compassion.

The Dalai Lama agreed, “So as you have rightly mentioned, a self-centred attitude is the source of the problem. We have to take care of ourselves without selfishly taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot survive. We need to do that. We should have wise selfishness, rather than foolish selfishness. Foolish selfishness means you just think only of yourself, don’t care about others, bully others, exploit others. In fact taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life. So that is what I call wise selfishness.”

Read more on Coping with Pain

[1] Excerpts from: The Book of Joy, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams, Hutchinson: London 2016, selected by Len Warren.