Caregiving as a Spiritual Practice

This is the final installment of our mini-series with Dr. Edward Smink that explores the many aspects of caregiving.

This installment explores experiencing caregiving as a spiritual practice. For the previous two installments from this series please refer to our official YouTube channel.

The concert violinist or Olympic athlete did not arrive at the pinnacle of their success by simple will power. From their first dream to entering and making them real, each entered into a particular journey of practice. Flat notes and aching muscles became the learning opportunities for each to excel. Practice became routine, in fact often the center of their lives. Caregivers too, dream, and achieve different Licensures, experiences and educational opportunities. Insights are learned because of trials, struggles, joys and achievements. What keeps each committed, centered, and dedicated to live out their dreams Dr. Smink asks?

In so many ways, he suggests that this is an Campbellian or heroic journey. The task before the caregiver is to remain steadfast as they are sent into the arena of human joys and sufferings. Where Soul leads one to find reverie, refreshment and solace, the sinew that allows the caregiver to enter into the depths of their experiences is the art of reflection. Smink expands the notion of reflection as a normal human experience. Caregivers reflect on the needs of their patients, logos or rational side of caregiving. Little attention, however, is giver to the mythos or creative side of caregiving, where the caregiver meets the archetypal strengths of the hero, of the wounded healer, of the spiritual nature of caregiving, and the importance of practice. He explores the ancient history of the wounded healer and how it relates to the present age of the caregiver. Dr. Smink concludes that the art of caregiving is a spiritual practice as both the caregiver and the one being served are affected, and indeed transformed. He asks: “Are you a better person because of your work as a caregiver?