I took part in the seminar as a participant, while Puntso animated it. We decided to put our experiences together to share with two voices, two points of view, two visions, to truly bring to life this seminar on being present for those who were not there.
Barbara: Dhagpo’s 40th anniversary, which unfolds along the theme of gratitude, began to feel like a reunion on the occasion of the seminar on being present in the accompaniment of grief and the end of life.
Puntso: A seminar is, by nature, a rich moment for all those who participate as visions meet, experiences resonate, and knowledge overlaps. In short, a seminar is an occasion to “make sense” together.
Barbara: Four speakers, collaborators on past projects, once again found themselves together in the presence of Lama Puntso, the seminar’s moderator.
According to the competences of each speaker, he or she presents the theme of being present for oneself and for others from a different angle to the audience of care aids, volunteers, and individuals concerned based on their personal situations.
Puntso: Being present for others is an act of kindness; it is also the opportunity to confront ourselves with our own functioning, emotions, expectations, and preconceptions. We focused our reflection of being present at the end of life and during grieving. The seminar offered the opportunity to revisit all of these situations, as much for those who accompany as for those going through such circumstances.
Barbara: Pascale Vinant approached the subject from the medical angle, as a doctor of palliative care; Dominique Davous as a volunteer in the field of accompaniment of grieving after the death of a child; Christophe Fauré, a doctor of psychiatry and psychotherapy, through the accompaniment of persons living through traumatic grief, and Anila Trinlé from the spiritual angle with a Buddhist vision and her experience in accompaniment.
Puntso: Having collaborated with them in the past, I was aware of the value of each of the speakers. I had seen how they share more than just knowledge, but experience and background from their own lives. The goals was to discuss the same questions based on different skill sets and points of view.
Barbara: Lama Puntso invited each of the speakers to share his or her experience through a patchwork of personal accounts of their first steps in accompaniment, their memories, their mess-ups, their resources…they likewise paid homage to their predecessors.
Puntso: We weren’t looking for trammel of successive, pre-prepared reports. We had proposed that each speaker respond to a series of questions, in such a way that the responses would resonate with others and bring about a natural response through listening. They were entirely game, and their mosaic of accounts came together into a vibrant picture of what being present can mean.
Barbara: The histories they confided created a feeling of intimacy within the seminar. They shared their vulnerability and their reactions when faced with situations of suffering, as well as their confidence in the process of coming back from loss–in our capacity to accept, to rebound, and to heal.
Puntso: Likewise, this was a point that I found moving: the unconditional confidence in the potential of those they accompany. Nothing guarantees, at the outset of a process of accompaniment, that the person grieving will be able to find the inner resources necessary, be able to confront the difficulties of the process as it unfolds, but the confidence is there. It is this confidence that creates a space for the other to be able to heal.
Barbara: Little by little, we were inspired by their humanity, their compassion, their kindness, and the attention that they have for each other and toward us. Each of them moved us with their sincerity and authenticity.
Puntso: The game of overlapping question succeeded in giving the desired result. For example, rather than asking each speaker his or her definition of being present, we asked them about their formative experience of being present for another (it was one of them who suggested this question during preparation!). One speaker recounted a total failure with an ill person that made him realize the necessity of being present to the other and another explained how she had to cultivate being present in a milieu where this skill was painfully lacking. And it is through their accounts that we were able to come to a definition of being present.
Barbara: These reunions were also the occasion for each of them to express their gratitude for their faith, which is a resource in accompaniment and being present. They take deep inspiration from Dhagpo–the energy necessary to face whatever comes.
Puntso: Among the four speakers, two are Buddhist, one Christian, and the fourth has a more personal faith. Nevertheless, the common point is the way in which their faith pervades their practice of accompaniment. The conclusion, almost obvious, arose in the form of a question: How can one be truly present without the resource of faith?
Barbara: Experiences shared by attentive and absorbed audience enriched the approach and the understanding of accompaniment for oneself and others.
Puntso: We consecrated a good amount of time to exchanging with the public: personal accounts, question, comments, or confidences; the responses are numerous.
Barbara: This seminar has come to an end, and, at the same time, it shapes the future.
Lama Puntso knew how to create harmony and fluidity throughout the duration of the seminar, moderating with discretion, finesse, and humor–and this despite the subject matter.
We take with us the kindness, the quality of listening, the devotion, the courage, and the humility of each speaker.
A way of being shared by all.
Puntso: Without doubt, what makes the richness of a seminar is what we take with us afterwards. Of course, information was exchanged, know-how shared, and, as we have said, experience and lived stories brought into the arena, but beyond this, a seminar is also a time of recharge and personal resource for each participant.
Barbara: And so it is.