It is often in our workplaces that we get the most priceless opportunities to practice the teachings of Eckhart Tolle – but only if we are paying close attention.
My work takes me into a hospital as a health care provider. And every day I am connecting with patients and families who are often experiencing their darkest hours. One evening, I entered a room to give an elderly gentleman a respiratory treatment. I greeted him and his wife, and introduced myself as his therapist for the evening. The room was darkened and somber and I crossed to the side of the bed opposite the gentleman’s wife. We were at the head of the bed and I could see that he looked uncomfortable, quite ill, and needing assistance. Before I even opened my mouth to explain what I was there to do, the woman began to raise her voice, and accuse me, the nurses, the doctors and the hospital of gross neglect. For a moment I was stunned, as I was in fact only there to help, but I knew in an instant that this was not a personal affront, but an expression of grief. I could feel my ego nudge me, wanting to defend my efforts, but I let it fall to the floor, roll under the bed and out the door. I knew there was no room for it. I was feeling the verbal blows from across the bed and it was a great moment, an epiphany. My arms gently fell and rested at my sides, and I listened. Her pain was expressed in every word and in every word her anger was directed at me, because it was I who happened to walk in the door. But I was glad it was me. Because I seemed to know what to do. Nothing, but listen and be acutely present.
Slowly her voice began to settle into a hush, and her agitation lessened. I still listened until I felt she had fully expressed herself. And then I listened more. My eyes never left hers, despite the accusations. And when enough silence had passed, I merely said “What can I do to help you”? At that moment, I could feel her body relax from across the bed, and saying nothing, she came around and tightly embraced me. It was authentic and I returned the gesture. And in my ear I heard her say, “Thank you for listening.”
It was an experience I have found invaluable, and will never forget.
– Margaret La Vake