Real Help Comes From Being Present

A few years ago, I was working at a community college in the financial aid department. I called my job “the dream killer.” I had to meet with students who were struggling both academically and financially, look them in the eye, and tell them they were not going to get financial aid, to pay their tuition or to cover the costs of living while in school. These students had one thing in common—they needed help, real help.

Everyday was full of stress. Many of the students had come into the academic system not knowing how to fill out papers correctly, not knowing the questions to ask, or not knowing that meeting deadlines was crucial to their success. Without the things I had learned by studying Breema, the constant tension would have left me constantly short-tempered and frustrated.

But fortunately, because of Breema, I had tools at my disposal. Practicing Breema over the years taught me that every circumstance could be used as a springboard to becoming present. To help myself, I chose one of Breema’s Nine Principles of Harmony to work with each week. I remembered the principle of Body Comfortable when sitting at my desk with a student and relaxed a little. Rather than feeling bad about somebody’s problems, I experienced No Judgment. When there was a line of students waiting, but the student I was helping needed more attention, I experienced Single Moment/Single Activity. When I had to run around the office to get a signature, I experienced No Hurry/No Pause.

One afternoon, I experienced how I could really help myself and the students I serve. A man and his mother had come to the counter in dire straits. They had gotten stuck in a labyrinth of incorrectly filled-out paperwork, misinformation, federal deadlines, and language barriers. I had seen them in the office several times before but had never worked with them. He was angry and his mother was crying when I walked over to meet them. I opened their files and immediately saw a mass of problems. It would take time to see if anything at all could be done. I needed them to go through all the information with me from the beginning. I leaned over the counter and said, “Okay, let’s all take a deep breath together. I am the last person who may be able to help you, so I need you both to breathe and work with me while we go over all this information again.”

I began to work with No Judgement and Mutual Support. That was the first step. I kept breathing and talking to them. When I called the federal offices on their behalf, I was present. As I continued to work with them, they became more relaxed. I knew that I was helping by being present with them. I was fully participating. There was an atmosphere of acceptance and support. As I continued working with them, I felt inspired instead of frustrated. As we made a list of next steps, it was obvious we had each experienced a transformation in our attitude. They had energy to do what was needed. I had energy to work with the next student.