A service offered by the Sufi Way
Many of us find ourselves in the position of having to care for someone in their time of need — perhaps taking care of our parents as they age and approach the end of their lives, or a partner, child, or friend who is suffering a chronic or life-threatening illness, or someone in grief, or depression, or who is trying to overcome addiction.
If you have experienced this, or are doing so now, you know that this kind of intimate caring for someone is a form of spiritual practice. It takes skill, empathy, patience, sensitivity, and love.
And it is not always easy. Care giving is often stressful in ways that the caregiver is not aware, and it can confront us with emotions in ourselves that are difficult for us to face. Since the caregiver is asked to sacrifice her other priorities to care for the person in need, she may not consider that she, too, might need some support.
A group of members of the Sufi Way have come together to offer this confidential service — Caring for Caregivers — to all who find themselves in a care giving role and who would appreciate some support. The supporters listed below are all people who work, or have worked, within a caring profession — psychotherapists, counselors, ministers, hospice workers — and they have had extra training to help them with this supportive role.
If you would like to take advantage of this offering, contact one of the people listed below for an initial conversation to see if there is a good fit between you, how often you might wish to be in contact, and by what medium — by telephone, Skype, or in person.
While there is no set fee for this service, for those who can afford it a contribution of about £20 per session ($30 or €25) to help the Sufi Way continue its work would be welcome. This donation can be made via the Sufi Way website (http://sufiway.org/donations). This amount is given as a guide. You are welcome to donate more, or less, or nothing at all if you are on a tight budget.
My life has been deeply influenced by the Sufi Way/Open Path and as a transpersonal psychotherapist with a particular interest in the overlap of psychology and spirituality, I welcome the opportunity to offer support to those caring for others.
I have been a family caregiver for many years and see the caring role as an opportunity to develop ways of being which sustain relationship within spiritual awareness. The challenges we encounter can be gateways for deepening our practice, and for influencing our life as a whole. I am a senior teacher, a Local Circle leader in the Sufi Way, and an ordained interfaith minister. Over the years my spiritual beliefs and understandings of healing, aging and of finding peace with the eventuality of death have opened beyond apparent differences and boundaries that seem to separate illness and wellness. The carer and the one they are caring for are bound together for a time, and the expectations and demands placed on each can be challenging. I feel that by being present for the carer, the love and compassion that is at the heart of the caring relationship can be nourished, benefitting both. It is an honour to be part of this group.
I have been engaged with the Sufi Way since 1974. I studied first with Pir-o-Murshid Fazal Inayat-Khan and then Pir-o-Murshida Sitara Brutnell. After an active life in business, I am now a Massage Therapist and Bodyworker in Malvern, UK, where I lead an Open Path group with my wife Sunnara.
I have been actively engaged with the Sufi Way for the past 12 years, although I’ve been connected with it since my childhood. One of my main interests is in “being with dying.” Even as a teenager I felt at ease with the process of dying — sensing that somehow everything will be all right, even though we haven’t the faintest idea what the experience will be like, or what is on the other side. I’ve been working in a hospice as a volunteer for four years. I’ve found that, although there is nothing to fear, in practice the way towards death can be bumpy and fear is a reality for all of us, whether we are the one expecting to die very soon or the one trying to give support.
I am a practicing psychotherapist, supervisor, and trainer, and focalize the Caring for Caregivers initiative in the Sufi Way. I co-direct the Sufi Centre at Barrow Castle in Bath, England.
Elizabeth Birtles +44 01453 753463 Stroud, UK
Over the years I have been well supported as a care-giver in various settings, and as a care-receiver. Training in Psychodynamic Counseling, seventeen years' experience working full time as a Unitarian minister, and a passion for Sufi mystic poetry led me to the Open Path training.