Below you will find a draft of our very first film script. It is the narration to a 10-minute documentary provisionally entitled Everyone Cares.
The Spiritual Companions Trust was fortunate to gain an Awards for All grant to fund this film and some accompanying digital resources.
We are just signing a contact with Postcard Productions who will make the video and recently produced the Channel 4 film ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’ the inspirational real life story of Jonny Benjamin’s search for the stranger that stopped him taking his life off Waterloo Bridge six years previously.
I thought you might like to see the draft script and it would help build some excitement and momentum for its launch towards the end of this year on YouTube.
Script – First draft 4 Aug 2015
The purpose of this short film is to show that we all share a universal body language of care and compassion.
This body language is hard-wired into our mammalian DNA and completely natural.
You can see it when a young child holds an injured bird in cupped hands.
Good care however is often held up as a high ideal and therefore difficult to achieve. The best carers are a few rare saints.
So you may not be confident that you are giving good care.
In this short film we want to reassure and encourage you.
Whatever kind of carer you are – from the most experienced senior professional to a home volunteer – you have inherited one of evolution and nature’s greatest gifts.
Embedded in your DNA and genetic make-up is everything you need to be a great carer.
All across our society literally millions of people are giving care.
The statistics may surprise you. Did you know …?
There are over 2 million people in the UK who are in paid employment as carers.
There are also an astonishing estimated 7 million people who are unpaid carers.
Some of these are very young – just children – looking after parents or siblings with disabilities.
And some are very old – even in their nineties – caring for disabled grown-up children, spouses and siblings.
These people are the everyday saints, the unsung heroes, of everyday life.
From just a reassuring smile, through to exhausting and endless responsibility, they provide the invisible but crucial fabric of a humane and caring world.
SCIENCE PART 1
Wherever you look in the natural world mammals look after their offspring.
This is a basic biological drive that ensures the survival of their species.
The longer that a new-born animal is vulnerable, the longer that the family group needs to protect and support the young creature.
We humans are sometimes called ‘naked apes’. We do not have fangs or claws. We do not have thick armoured skin.
Our infants are at risk and defenceless for many years.
We have therefore evolved a set of behaviours that are genetically embedded in our DNA, brains and nervous systems.
We are programmed to care for the vulnerable.
This is one of the ways that our species has been able to survive so successfully.
At one level it is no different from how a cat has a genetic drive to lick and clean her kittens.
In the same way our species has developed a genetic drive to give messages of support and care to the vulnerable.
No matter what tribe we belong to …
No matter our ethnicity or culture …
We all present the same facial expression and body language of care to someone who is vulnerable.
It is at the heart of what doctors call ‘good bedside manner’.
In spiritual and pastoral care it is sometimes called ‘co-presence’.
In the therapeutic world it may be called ‘whole body listening’.
Whatever its name, it is always the same.
And we all do it.
No – we don’t lick each other like cats.
Or groom each other like apes.
What we do is this…
• We turn our whole body towards the recipient of our care.
• Our eyes soften and look directly at the person.
• Our faces are calm – but also alert and attentive.
• We lean in towards the person, our shoulders down.
• If appropriate, but not always, our attentive face and harmless body language are also accompanied by reassuring touch.
Our behaviour signals the absolute opposite of aggression.
It is the universal body language of care.
Just as we are programmed to give it, we are also programmed to receive it.
From our brain down through our nervous system to our gut, we are hard-wired to respond positively to the signals of care!
We are reassured, soothed and calmed.
SCIENCE PART 2
Let’s look more closely at what happens inside us when someone is caring.
Just a short period of compassionate attention with the body language of care can make all the difference to our physiological and psychological state.Watch a crying infant be soothed by care and you can see the dramatic transformation from distress to comfort.
In the same way, people in pain, in crises or accidents can have their anxiety transformed by a single reassuring helper.
Our internal biology is programmed to respond to the care.
Powerful messages are streamed through the body.
Our hormone factories respond.
The chemical state of anxiety and fear is lessened as adrenalin and cortisol – the hormones of stress and tension – are reduced.
The hormones of relaxation and wellbeing, endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, and oxytocin, are triggered into production.
It is like a dose of morphine, helping to kill pain and calm anxiety, but here the chemicals are natural and internal.
Breathing and the heart’s rhythm are brought into healthier integration.
The stomach and gut are also affected. There is a reduction in acidity and health-giving bacteria are supported.
Physically, psychologically and emotionally the individual feels a whole lot better.
More than that … Nature has been incredibly clever!
Because not only does the recipient benefit from the care — the care-giver also experiences physiological and psychological benefits.
The actual body language of care – if given authentically and not as a professional guise — is good for us too.
The instinctive and natural body language of care drops us into a more relaxed state.
Just like the recipient, the hormones of anxiety are reduced and those of wellbeing are amplified.
Our body tissue relaxes.
Our breath calms.
Our heart rate variability integrates.
Our gut is healthier.
You can see here the benevolent feedback loop between the care-giver and the recipient.
Nature has indeed been clever. Both sides benefit.
We feel better.
Relationships are created.
The human tribe is strengthened through a stronger sense of community.
There is a rapport that is profound and meaningful.
But let’s also be realistic…
It is difficult to give good care all the time, isn’t it?
Life is tough.
We get tired, exhausted and overwhelmed.
Understandably we may also become impatient and irritable.
But that is so deeply human, isn’t it? The most loving person has moments of needing space and rest.
So we have some reminders that you might find helpful.
First always remember that embedded in your biology and your DNA is the genetic instinct to give care. It is natural and we can all be good at it.
Second, don’t become demoralised if you have periods of understandable short-temperedness or fatigue. They are normal. They don’t mean you are a bad carer… They just mean you are tired.
Which leads to our third reminder. Just as you care for others, make sure you care for yourself too.
Whenever you can, take time out.
Get some respite. Some fun. Some rest. Some fuel!
And from all of us who receive your care — Thank You.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
© 2015 William Bloom, Spiritual Companions Trust