Author: Anne Marie DiGiacomo
Basic Attendance is outlined below, in accordance to the Windhorse Model. The following is based on the work of Ed Podvoll.
Being Present, Letting In, Bringing Home, Letting Be, Bringing Along, Recognizing, Finding Energy, Leaning In, Discovering Friendship, Learning.
- Being Present: (Together)
There is a sense of full presence, as a mixture of calmness, alertness, vitality – but this does not mean having a placid or concentrated mind. When you do notice mental wandering, you bring yourself back to the present moment – the environment at hand. You return to your body and its gravity, the texture and quality of the space around you, to mental activity that is in continuous interaction with the environment. One is attentive, relaxed, unconstructive and unimposing by contracting one’s sense of presence.
- Letting In: (Significant contact occurs naturally)
A natural and spontaneous exchange of states of mind. These states can be tainted with fear of losing ones ‘professional ego’, and ‘therapeutic ego’. Letting in is a practice of developing compassion and opening to another person. There is an experience of suffering along with the person and sensing their intelligence. The practice of Tonglen, or sending and taking, is core to developing one’s ability to exchange self to other.
- Bringing Home: (Mind and body to ordinary activity)
Synchronizing body and mind in ‘mundane activity’. This is the work around the house. The work is on the shift; there is nothing special about this. Your job, your work, your life are all one piece.
- Letting Be: (Equanimity; to give up all hope of fruition)
This is more like the ‘constant changing of seasons’. No good or bad shifts. This is the practice of accommodation without manipulating the course of things into what you think should happen.
- Bringing Along: (Out into the world)
There is the shut-in quality of one’s small thought world and the enticements of the larger outside world. The point is to include the person in your larger world.
- Recognizing: (History of sanity)
Not only recognizing ‘islands of clarity’ in the work of BA but seeing the person’s entire history of sanity as well, which as equally as strong as the history of illness. Recognizing the landmark events in a persons life that describe a developmental yearning for health; these include revulsion, transcending self-centeredness, discipline, compassionate action, precision and courage. These are long ignored and atrophied. Perhaps hidden talents and disciplines are recognized.
- Finding Energy: (Through the sense perceptions)
This is the passionate point of contact with the senses. This is being called out by one’s interest, curiosity and appreciation of colors, space, energy can be evoked. You can work with the pinpoint of sensory experience, even if no one is speaking.
- Leaning In: (The effort of discipline)
Increase a persons level of activity, responsibility to care for oneself and to work. This is the practice of knowing when to push and when to let up – free of one’s own agenda. This is leaning in the effort of discipline.
- Discovering Friendship: (Therapist-Friend dilemma)
A sense of warmth and friendship develop within the intimacy of BA. This does take time. There is a sense of enjoying being together; a trust develops in which each person can tell the truth. Therefore, we deeply explore the meaning of friendship, and with this exploration come the tension between the therapeutic aspect of the relationship and the genuine energy of friendship. There are many levels to this ‘dilemma’, and it is crucial to stay open and curious in this processes as a way to continue discovering friendship and dissolving the obstacles that separate self from other.
- Learning: (Mutual learning and healing)
The practice of BA becomes a means for one’s personal path and development to become a more responsive human being. So, one is working with oneself as much as with the client. Recovery is therefore a two-sided experience.
“My wife had dementia and needed to be placed in a memory care community in Louisville.
The Windhorse Care partners cared for my wife with compassion, patience and understanding. I felt Christine was safe and engaged and the team brought a person centered approach and contemplative practice. They were a special group.
The team meetings were always about how best to provide for Christine. WEC worked closely with the care community staff to compliment the care from both groups.
I think the most surprising part of this experience was how engaged WEC was from intake, supervision, team leadership, companions to the caregiver support group.” – Harry Lindmark