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.
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.
"Doing" therapies involve medications, surgery, and procedures; "being" therapies involve states of consciousness and inner awareness (meditation, contemplation, and directed or non-directed prayer).
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.
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.
Nurses can share and express their spirituality without using traditional religious language. Nurses can encourage their clients to explore the following reflective questions:
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:
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.
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:
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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