Volunteer Spotlight: Ben Glover

Did you know that Alive volunteers, Ben Glover and Jennifer Taylor, are offering FREE 30-minute mindfulness and wellness classes to help you re-center? With the ongoing impact of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to take time for self-care.

We spoke with Ben to find out what inspired him to volunteer with Alive. Read on to learn how his fear of death led to meaningful hospice work and what he hopes to share.

Weekly Guided Meditation, led by Ben, takes place every Thursday at 1 p.m. CST as we take a breath to create peace in our lives. Monthly Virtual Yoga, hosted by Jennifer, occurs every first Wednesday of the month at noon. Everyone keeps their cameras off during this relaxing time to stretch and show ourselves some loving care and attention.

Alive:

Ben, tell me a bit about your story and how you came to volunteer at Alive?

Ben:

I’m a singer-songwriter and touring artist, but, in 2019, I started a training program to become a mindfulness meditation teacher. The training invited us to lean into areas where we felt anxiety or discomfort. I think death came up because I was doing a lot of reading on the impermanence of everything. Especially in the Western world, we love everything to be solid and secure. We don’t like the idea that things don’t last forever.

The big truth that we all share is that we are all going to die one day, yet we are not encouraged to look at that fact in life. Our culture is all about shunning that. I wanted to turn towards that discomfort and explore. I spoke with an Alive volunteer and thought I need to volunteer here too. I also wanted to serve. Being a singer-songwriter and an artist, you’re very self-focused, which is fine, but you can lose sight of other important things in life. My thinking was if I can hold space and be a friend to people facing death and loss, I’m doing some good and it’s also helping me turn towards my fears and insecurities.

At the orientation, I remember one of the organizers saying that one of the principles of Alive is that we meet the family and patient where they are. That felt big because in mindfulness and meditation, we meet ourselves where we are in that moment.

Alive:

That’s a beautiful parallel. I know that you only got to have one patient experience so far because of COVID, but has anything surprised you along the way?

Ben:

I learned that it’s possible to be at peace with dying right when you’re at the precipice. And he (we’ll call him Mr. K) taught me to let go of some of my fear. He also showed me that’s it okay to be afraid and terrified of dying and still feel compassion and love and presence in the middle of it. It’s the most difficult thing we all have to experience, but in the midst of that difficulty, there is also friendliness and joy and fun; it’s not just fear, it’s not just sadness.

Alive:

The Paradox.

Ben:

Yes, the paradox. You know, the volunteers at Alive become friends with the patients, but what Mr. K gave me in friendship was way more than what I gave him. He taught me how to be an intimate listener, listening with no agenda. Silence in the conversation is ok.

Alive:

That makes sense. So, in the meantime, you’re training in mindfulness and what you’re experiencing with Mr. K, that seems to fit in perfectly with what you’re learning. Do you think that allowed you to be more open? Would it have been the same five years ago?

Ben:

I wouldn’t have been ready five years ago. It was the training and the deepening of my own practice that allowed me to turn towards the difficulty and embrace the pain. If we turn towards suffering, what naturally comes up is compassion. And the compassion fuels you to handle the situation.

Alive:

We talk about legacy a lot at Alive. I think that word has a lot of different meanings for people, what does that word mean to you or to put it another way, what do you want your legacy to be?

Ben:

I graduated from my two- year meditation teacher training, and we had an online retreat for two days. One of the reflections we did there was, what are two or three truths you’d like to pass on at the moment of your death?

Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said and people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” I would like people to feel alive and recognized in our interactions.

Alive:

That’s one of the best responses I’ve heard to that question.

Ben:

Well, the credit must go to Maya Angelou really!

Ben comes from the village of Glenarm in County Antrim, on the North coast of Ireland and made Nashville his home base in 2009. Join his Alive mindfulness class via Zoom or find him at www.bestillawareawake.com.