Jean Watson is a nurse educator, creator of the transpersonal caring science philosophy and founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute. Central to Watson’s caring science are the Caritas: ten guidelines for the creation and maintenance of authentic, caring healing and learning environments (1).
I would love to live and work in such an environment! And so I reflect on the first Caritas:
Sustaining humanistic-altruistic values by practice of loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity with self/others (2).
I see three dimensions to this Caritas. The first dimension I see talks to values: this Caritas asks us to value each *human life we encounter for its own sake: life and individual lives are intrinsically precious. Intrinsically precious: before and beyond religion or science, life is precious because it is precious.
The second dimension of this Caritas suggests that it is possible to lose touch with this value — that it is necessary to sustain it. And ain’t that the truth! Reading the Caritas on my verandah at 6am on a Saturday morning with the weekend ahead of me and the birds singing in the garden, the preciousness and beauty of life is obvious. Helping a client find what they need for their assignment and sharing that aha! moment with them: yes, it’s there too. But I might find myself in a different situation: feeling overwhelmed by another phone call while I am already trying to answer one query, and have a last look at the reading I was supposed to do before a meeting in ten minutes. The preciousness of life is not so obvious to me in these moments.
The third dimension of the Caritas suggests we might sustain the value of life (or perhaps consciously reconnect to it) by practicing loving-kindness, and compassion, remaining calm and composed, first with self and also with others.
First with self: well, this is “my one wild and precious life” (3). Can I be kind to myself first? What would that look like? Would it look like an interruption to my habit of saying yes, sure, I will get that to you in 5 minutes. Can I instead breathe and look at my schedule and say Just a moment, I will be able to get to that this afternoon/tomorrow/when I see you on Wednesday. Would it sometimes even look like muting the phone or turning off email for a few minutes to give myself some time to do that reading/thinking/creating? It feels good to just imagine that. And I can also imagine a flow-on: being able to be fully present in conversations rather than being distracted by the things I need to get to right now, or even an hour ago. And being able to give a thoughtful, considered response that draws on all of me, not just the autopilot.
Maybe this is a good week for Cartitas 1. 🙂
- Sitzman, K., & Watson, J. (2016). Watson’s caring in the digital world: A guide for caring when interacting, teaching, and learning in cyberspace. New York, NY: Springer.
- Watson, J. (n.d.). 10 Caritas Processes. Retrieved from https://www.watsoncaringscience.org/jean-bio/caring-science-theory/10-caritas-processes/
- Oliver, M. The summer day [poem]. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html