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Welcome to the first podcast on the Art of Presence.
My name is Cristina Blasoni and I am licensed clinical social worker, seasoned in the psychiatric mental health field and originally indoctrinated in the medical model classification of what constitutes mental illness. However, throughout the years and with my training in clinical hypnotherapy and in Reiki, I came to realize that, even though, theoretical knowledge is very important it needs to be complemented with the clinician’s true emotional and spiritual growth, healing and empowerment along with an alert state of presence . All of these components of true transcendence create an essence or energy which touches the other in an embracing touch of a safe, restorative attitude and approach to the pained other.
It is said that to be still and to be present in the moment is to find true beauty. By being in the moment and in intense presence there are no thoughts. For thoughts are unnecessary mental noise, a distraction of the internal and external subjective reality one faces during daily living. If there is no stillness, then there is no presence, if there is no presence, then there is no alertness. All that one has is a suspended moment in a past and an uneasiness to an uncertain future. One is not here at the present moment. Being in the present moment, as Dr. Gus Castellanos, a retired neurologist, states, is that presence is not about waiting; that this type of waiting has a more qualitative connotation to the meaning one originally ascribes it to be. Alert waiting is not focused on an anticipation or an event in the past. Alert waiting is rooted in the present moment and it is intuitively aware of the internal and external environment. Zen masters define this moment as SATORI. SATORI describes this moment of finite time as, Castellanos states, as a flash of insight, a moment of no time, a moment of total presence. This state of SATORI gives a glimpse of what enlightment feels like and is.
What better gift to give to another, if the clinician can achieve or better yet, manifest this sense of SATORI, by having either an acquired or, for some, an innate ability of listening to the inner depths of another , and thus, to be able to be an empathic, compassionate tool of empowerment. Actually this state of compassionate presence is perhaps preeminently more noteworthy then just being aware of one’ s own countertransference. As important as being aware of one’s humanness and resemblance to another is, one needs to acknowledge, accept it, and let it go, to create a suspended moment of mindful attention.
The state of compassionate presence does not start with the other , it starts with treating the wounded healer from within self. Carl Jung adapted the wounded healer archetype by basing himself on those who seek to heal others, do so, in order to heal themselves. In Jung’s 1951 book titled, “Fundamental Questions of Psychotherapy”, Jung reflects that at times the physician’s or clinician’s own disease or unresolved issues are the best psychotherapeutic training. It is up to the clinician to heal self in order to be able to be present for the other, and be in a state of SATORI, thus, be a compassionate tool for the pained person to find healing. However, for many and especially for some who are in the mental health system, the achievement of this state may pose to be a challenge due to the current paradigm used to define those who are different. With the current paradigm in mind, it is of much importance for the clinician to be in a state of compassionate, intuitive, and empathic presence as to impart ethical practices.
With the present reductionist medical model discourse, it not only creates a Cartesian split of mind, body, and soul, but, also, deters some clinicians of delivering ethical services. For example, the present classifying system understands the human psyche and behavior through a rigid set of behavioral and cognitive subsets to define another human, medicated to placate, not to heal and, thus, creating a subject-object relationship which bypasses the other’s integrity and deters social justice through some practices of teaching morality, virtuous behaviors. For many in the psychiatric setting, the clinician is more of an assessor of those who are non conformists and gatekeeper of allocated services.
As Castellanos states, “Life consists of only moments, nothing more than that. And since this moment is the only moment that I ever have, nothing matters more than this moment ~ therefore when I make this moment matter, Life is All that matters…if just for a moment” .
Having this in mind, the following is an interview with social worker Parween. Parween worked in the inpatient unit before joining the outpatient MICA unit. Parween brings her own discourse on how she deals with the medical model and to be an ethical social worker. So, lets listen how Parween uses her own sense of self to deliver compassionate, ethical services in an Outpatient MICA unit located in a county hospital.
Benziman, Galia; Kannai, Ruth; and Ahmad, Ayesha. “The Wounded Healer as Cultural Archetype.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 14.1 (2012): http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1927
Castellanos, Gus http://www.18mind.com/mind/Power_Of_Now_the_state_of_the_presence
NASW Code of Ethics