The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Nine

The sages have no constant mind
They take the mind of the people as their mind
Those who are good, I am good to them
Those who are not good, I am also good to them
Thus the virtue of goodness
Those who believe, I believe them
Those who do not believe, I also believe them
Thus the virtue of belief

The sages live in the world
They cautiously merge their mind for the world
The people all pay attention with their ears and eyes
The sages care for them as children

                                                                                           Lao Tzu

How does the professional caregiver stay sharp and attuned to each and every client, patient or resident they encounter? How do you find a way to keep your heart open and available, day in and day out, amidst all that takes place in the course of a shift? In verse Forty-Nine, Lao Tzu offers one approach. He suggests that you try to access your ability to be present and mindful with each client, patient or resident in your assignment.  This tool can help to ward off the weight of the total day’s workload, help you to resist reducing the nature of your caring to doing tasks and allow you to stay connected with you greater purpose.

The profession of caregiving is presently besieged by challenges, demands and scrutinized oversight. You start each shift faithfully pledging to remain client, patient or resident Centered only to have The System relentlessly assault you until its and effort to remain sane let alone Centered on anything. However, if you take a breath for just a moment; keeping your client, patient or resident at the Center of what you do is the answer. Centered care is Mindful care. The one modification Lao Tzu is suggesting is that you resist seeing your assignment as a collective and work to focus on the individuals within that assignment.

He urges not to adopt a Fixed Mind. Try not to let your years of experience precondition you to judge the events and situations that present on any given day. This approach could cause you to misread an encounter and react inappropriately. It could be the root cause to making an error or missing an important opportunity to anchor a relationship. Rather, make the conscious effort to meet everyone and everything new and fresh.

Strive to be present so that you can observe closely and carefully. Be patient as your assessment takes shape. Don’t let it be forced on you and don’t let the baggage of the day taint your ability to make the best plan of care possible for each individual/family member under your care at that moment.

“For it may safely be said, not that the habit of ready and correct observation will by itself make us useful nurses, but that without it we shall be useless with all our devotion.” Florence Nightingale: Notes on Nursing, 1860


2 thoughts on “The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Nine

  1. Hi Phyllis – This is the first of your posts I have read, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I work very part time at a beautiful residential retirement center — interestingly enough, not as a care giver, but as a bartender. It is very high-end, and we have a mix of independent and assisted living folks. The residents with whom I deal are a mix of both, and I can honestly say that I have never seen them as a collective. I have always loved and appreciated each of them as individuals, not because it was something I was expected to do, but simply because that’s the way I was brought up. I have always appreciated older people. The are so full of stories and life experience! I truly believe that in our modern western society we have lost touch with that, which is extremely sad. Coming to the point in life where some would consider me as one in that category (I just celebrated my big 6-0), I am appreciating that more and more, although I don’t in any way consider myself “a senior citizen” (I still think I’m somewhere in my early 30s! <<>>

    Anyway . . you are right on! To think of ANYONE as part of a collective and not as an individual cheats both you AND the other person.

  2. This is my first time on your blog- I appreciate your sharing verse 49. I work with individuals that have early Alzheimer’s disease and their families. I will share with my colleagues.

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