Questions & Answers

Barbara Dossey Click on      
       Question

Can you give a working description of holistic nursing?

How does the human spirit impact our physiology?

What is the difference between "doing" and "being" therapies?

What are you describing when you speak of "transpersonal human caring transactions"?

How can nurses facilitate the spiritual dimensions when counseling patients?

How can nurses avoid possible confusion between spirituality and organized religion when conversing with their clients?

What variables influence dialogues between nurse and client about spirituality?

You talk about the implications of healing and Eras of Medicine. Can you explain these Eras?

What are rituals? And what is involved in creating personal rituals for healing?

From your research and clinical experience, can you explain the different types of imagery that we experience in our lives and healing?

Glossary of Terms
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Can you give a working description of holistic nursing? go to top

Holistic nursing embraces all nursing practices that strive to heal the whole person. The central task of a holistic nurse is to practice healing from the deep understanding that each person is more than the sum of individual parts-that we each live in a dynamic and busy world and are influenced by both our internal and external environments. Holistic nurses draw upon nursing theories and practical expertise-and the guidance of their intuition-as they become therapeutic partners with patients.

Holistic nursing requires that nurses integrate self-care/self-responsibility in their lives in order to help facilitate healing and caring for others. In turn this self- care/self-responsibility leads nurses to a greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all individuals and their relationships to the human and global community.



How does the human spirit impact our physiology? go to top

Emotions, love, attitudes, meaning, and purpose are parts of the human spirit that can literally leave "tracks" in the body. Scientific physiologic data on the mind's modulation of the autonomic nervous system explain how the human spirit is transduced to the cellular level. Biochemical changes occur in the endocrine, immune, and neuropeptide systems in relation to one's emotions, attitudes, and thoughts. These biochemical changes are "tracks of the spirit in the body." For example, if you trace anatomic locations from the limbic system down the nerve pathways and into the extremities and organs, the physiologic changes in the brain correlate with emotions, attitudes, and thoughts. Likewise, these neurotransmitters carry impressions back to the brain, sketching the dimensions of one's spirituality.



What is the difference between "doing" and "being" therapies? go to top

"Doing" therapies involve medications, surgery, and procedures; "being" therapies involve states of consciousness and inner awareness (meditation, contemplation, and directed or non-directed prayer).



What are you describing when you speak of "transpersonal human caring transactions"? go to top

The human caring process is an interplay of nurse, client, family, and the individual uniqueness of all involved. This creates a dynamic event of caring. The human caring process also has a transpersonal dimension, in which the nurse affects and is affected by the patient. Both are fully present in the moment and feel a sort of union with each other. The experience becomes part of the life history of both. This coming together can be done in a distant, mechanical manner in which the nurse or client responds without acknowledging the other or recognizing each other's potentials. Or it can be done humanely, as when the nurse and client come together with a presence of caring that involves actions and choices made by both.



How can nurses facilitate the spiritual dimensions when counseling patients? go to top

In this age of change, people are seeking to create new perceptions for their lives and to find wholeness and spirituality. They need guidance in their transformation. In order to deal with the spiritual dimension more effectively, nurses should be aware of the following complex factors that shape their own world views and influence their ability to help patients with spiritual issues.
  • Basic attitudes: Nurses hold belief systems about illness, aging, and suffering.
  • Pluralism: Nurses and clients each have a vast array of beliefs, values, meaning, and purpose.
  • Fear: Nurses may be confused about their own beliefs and values, lack confidence in their ability to handle situations, and feel concern about invading their client's privacy.
  • Awareness of own spiritual quest: Nurses may contemplate meaning, purpose, hope, and presence of love in their own lives.
  • Confusion: Nurses may experience conflict between religious and spiritual concepts.




How can nurses avoid possible confusion between spirituality and organized religion when conversing with their clients? go to top

Nurses can share and express their spirituality without using traditional religious language. Nurses can encourage their clients to explore the following reflective questions:
  • What do I feel good about?
  • With whom do I feel most free to "be myself"?
  • What is the hardest thing about my illness (or current dilemma) for me and my family?
  • What helps me "from within myself and from outside"?
  • What worries me most?
  • What am I afraid of?




What variables influence dialogues between nurse and client about spirituality? go to top

There are many variables such as where the nurse and client are on their individual inward journeys, the ability of each to listen actively and reflect, and how deep their trust for one another goes. The following questions are posed to help the nurse listen actively and reflect:
  • What is sacred to this person?
  • For what/whom will this person make sacrifices?
  • How does this person personally receive God's response? Is God stern? capricious? angry? benevolent?
  • What is trustworthy? In what/whom is trust placed?
  • Does this person mostly give to others or mostly demand from others?
  • Does the person have a sense of belonging to a primary group? to the family? to the universe?
  • Is this life marked by playfulness? caution? grimness? creativity? fear?
  • What brings joy? What brings satisfaction?
  • Does this person have a sense of mission and purpose in life?
  • Does this person consider him- or herself as a responsible agent in the situation or as a victim or martyr?
  • Does this person see the potential for taking an active role in changing the situation?




You talk about the implications of healing and Eras of Medicine. Can you explain these Eras? go to top

Era I Medicine is medicine with an emphasis on the material body. It is guided by the laws of Newtonian physics; it does not consider the effects of mind and consciousness; it is focused on local states of consciousness.

Era II Medicine is body-mind medicine. It involves psycho- neuroimmunology, relaxation, imagery, and music therapy. It is focused on local states of consciousness.

Era III Medicine is non-local medicine. It focuses on non-local states of conciousness and emphasizes the power of conciousness. According to Era III Medicine, the mind does not operate only within the individual body. Rather, minds are omnipresent, infinite, universal, and spread throughout space and time.



What are rituals? And what is involved in creating personal rituals for healing? go to top

Rituals are activities through which all societies find meaning, richness, and structure in life. Through rituals we enter into a sacred space of mind. We honor the core of our humanity and recognize the power of the invisible forces that heal, connect, and transcend. We separate from old ways of thinking and behaving and integrate new models of lifestyle. Through rituals, we express community bonding and support during times of life change.

The four elements of creating personal rituals are:
  • Intention: acknowledge the need to change, heal, or otherwise give attention to yourself;
  • Place: locate a place, or create a space that is conducive to inner work;
  • Time: find time to separate yourself from your regular activities;
  • People: call together a healing team of friends and family to support you when needed.
The process and primary function of rituals are:
  • Separation: to engage in a healing activity; enter into a healing state of consciousness;
  • Transition: awareness of being changed through the healing process;
  • Return: reenter, renewed and changed, into life's activities.





From your research and clinical experience, can you explain the different types of imagery that we experience in our lives and healing? go to top

  • Receptive and Active Imagery
    Receptive imagery bubbles up from the subconscious; it involves going inward and listening to bodymind.

    Active imagery is the conscious formation of image; the image can be directed to a body area or activity that requires attention.

  • Concrete and Symbolic Imagery
    Concrete images are biologically correct, ranging from cells to muscular structures; they are considered as in real life and with biologic correctness.

    Symbolic imagery is the metamorphosis of personal energy of an individual; it can't be forced.

  • Process, End State, and General Healing Imagery
    Process imagery is designed step-by-step according to mechanics of biologically correct images or steps in healing.

    End state images are made up of the final healed state following process imagery.

    General healing imagery can be an event, healing light, forgiveness, or an inner guide or advisor.




Glossary of Terms go to top

Centering: fine tuning of sensitivity to life's inner and outer patterns and processes; recognizing a state of balance of self and allowing the process of intuition to unfold

Guide: one who helps others discover and recognize insights and healing awareness on their life journeys

Healing: a process of bringing parts of oneself (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relationships, and choices) together at deep levels of inner knowing, leading to balance, with each part integrated with equal importance and value; may also be referred to as self-healing or wholeness

Nurse Healer: one who facilitates another person's growth and process toward wholeness (body-mind-spirit) or who assists with recovery from illness or with transition to death

Psychophysiologic Self-Regulation (PPSR): the process whereby a person is able to induce varying states of relaxation in order to balance right and left hemispheric brain function; with disciplined practice one is able to shift into deep states of relaxation

Transpersonal: referring to experiences and meaning that go beyond individual and personal uniqueness; involves one's purpose, values, and beliefs

Wounded Healer: concept derived from Greek mythology, specifically the myth of Chiron, which suggests that even the greatest healers must recognize their inherent weaknesses and fallibility
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