Nourishing Spaces: Anchoring Self-care in Your Environment

Submitted by Guest Blogger, Judith Tamarah, MIARC

Not enough time to do a self-care practice is frequently looked at as the culprit behind a derailed self-care routine; but I believe the deeper cause is that we haven’t made the space.

One of the greatest tools we have is our environment. Our environment, whether home or workspace, holds us emotionally, energetically, and practically. Some environments hold and support certain actions so much that we automatically do them whenever we enter that room. We watch TV in the family room. We knit when we’re in a special chair. Some environments make it difficult to get an action completed no matter how strong our intentions.

Anchoring self-care in your environment.

We can set up our environments to anchor our self-care practices. By creating a place that holds the actions we want, we can give ourselves the emotional and practical support needed to carry out a new routine so it becomes consistent and inevitable.

Below, I outline the process I take my clients through when I help them create nourishing self-care environments. Even though I’ve outlined them as a sequence, these steps often happen a little bit there and a little bit here, as we try on our evolving space and get clearer about our needs.

Step One: Chose the self-care practices that are important to you.

What are the self-care actions you want to create space for? Be honest. Say what you really want, not what you think you should do. Do you actually like yoga? Does it make your bones feel good? Or would dance or sleeping a few extra hours nourish you more? Make a list and then eliminate anything that doesn’t make your heart sing. For this exercise choose one self-care practice to start with.

Step Two: Claim space.

Claiming space is the act of taking up space and creating room for your self-care action. It’s both an inner psychological process and an outer practical process. It’s important to do both.

Claiming space starts with an internal decision that you are important and deserve to have the space to take care of yourself. After this internal decision is made, the external process of finding a space in which to do the action is more straightforward. By making this clear internal commitment to take up space we avoid fights with our subconscious, fights that can show up as attempts to squeeze our self-care practice into all sorts of unsuitable corners.

Step Three: Become clear on the practical needs.

After this internal decision is made, you can begin practical logistics. What kind of physical space do you need in order for the action to happen? Do you need a clean, un-obstructed, 10×10 patch of floor space and a door that shuts? What equipment do you need? Do you have yoga blocks and a mat and can they be stored in the yoga space, and not in a closet far, far away? Make a list of the things you need, both the bare bones and the ideal, for the action to successfully take place.

You may end up looking around your house and see nothing that fulfills all your requirements —  yet. But starting with a clarity about what you actually need will make finding and creating that space so much easier than having an amorphous sense of needing something and not knowing what it is.

Step Four: Decide how you want it to feel.

Spaces function best when they support us not just functionally, but emotionally and energetically as well. We gravitate to spaces that address our emotions. A 10×10 patch of floor that is dismal and smells like a wet dog won’t motivate us do yoga and won’t anchor our practice with the consistency and ease that we’re after.

Understanding what our emotional needs are and how to translate them into colors, scents, textures, objects, and light is an ongoing and deeply revealing process. For many of us our natural knowing of what we love has been distorted over time by voices that have told us what we ‘should’ want, or what we can’t have. A litany of excuses float through our heads — it’s not important, it’s selfish or frivolous, it’s too big or gaudy, it’s boring, or it’s financially non-essential.

But materials matter. The cells of our brain link the memories of who we are, our identities, with the sensate experience of the world around us. Materials evoke an experience of ourselves as loved, seen, cherished, independent, or powerful.

The practice I describe below is called the noticing practice. You can pick up a more detailed version of it here http://bit.ly/NoticingPracticeGift but the basic approach is as follows.

Ask yourself these questions:

How do I want to feel when I’m doing my self-care practice so that I have the experience I want?

For example, how do you want to feel when you do yoga? Do you want to feel calm, centered, strong, independent, brilliant, or kind? Get specific.

Where have I felt that way before? Where in my life do I feel it right now?

Did you feel independent the first time you had your own apartment? Or when you were traveling through Asia after college? Did you feel calm and free in a backyard treehouse when you were 7? Did you feel seen and cherished in your grandmother’s kitchen when she was teaching you to bake?

Remember or visit those places and look around you. Notice the colors, textures, scents, and kinds of light that are around you. Use all your senses and start a list of these physical qualities. These are the materials to begin bringing into your self-care environment.

Step Five: Give it time.

Allow yourself the time it takes to change your environment. Not only are you making practical changes, i.e., painting a room, moving things around, etc., which themselves take time and resources, but you are also changing emotional patterns and habits.

The degree to which we have an environment that supports our self-care practices is the degree to which those practices happen. So make a change. Paint a wall the blue of your grandparents’ cottage by the sea, or hang a shawl that reminds you of your trip to India. Then try your new space on and see how it feels. Then make another change. And another. Until it feels just right. This is the process of creating a place that holds us perfectly, easing us with simplicity and grace into routines that nourish us.

Bio:

Judith’s self-care routine includes permission to play hookie and take spontaneous walks. Her work focuses on creating places that hold and nourish your natural way of doing things and feed your soul. She holds a Masters in Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon and is certified in Design Psychology. If you would like more practices and insights to help create nourishing space in your home or workspace, sign up for her newsletter: http://bit.ly/JudithTamarahNewsletter.

 

 

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Self-care is Health-care

Submitted by deonne wright RN
OHNA Communication | Conference Coordinator
Founding Board Member

I was raised on a farm more than half a century ago by staunch, fundamentalist Christian parents. I was also the eldest of their twelve children. As I look back I see how those three elements formed my concept of what ‘self-care’ meant. I grew up with teachings that guided me to serve “God” and everyone else above all else. To make my own needs more important than the needs of others was considered selfish.

I am stepping into a new paradigm of self-care after going through burnout twice, coming to the edge of nervous collapse, and becoming physically incapacitated at different times in my life. It wasn’t until my physical health failed me completely that I gained the perspective of self-care being a non-negotiable priority. Such a dramatic change takes a conscious effort, but it is necessary since only the self-nourished can nourish others. The unfortunate reality is many of us operate from this outdated concept. As nurturing care providers we cannot afford such a perspective.

The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) has researched, established, published, and frequently updated their Scope and Standards of Practice over the years of their existence. This publication includes the principles that are foundational to holistic nursing practice. They are presented in five categories: Person, Healing/Health, Practice, Nursing Roles, and Self-Care. The principles are broken down further into Core Values. The fifth addresses Holistic Nurse Self Care. (Carla Mariano, 2007) Becoming acquainted with these holistic nursing principles and core values has played a big part in helping reset my beliefs, empowering me to step into a new Self-Care Paradigm.

The most meaningful statements made by AHNA for my growth are as follows:

  • Holistic nurses value themselves and mobilize the necessary resources to care for themselves.
  • Nurses cannot facilitate healing unless they are in the process of healing themselves.
  • Holistic nurses strive to achieve harmony/balance in their own lives and assist others to do the same.
  • [nurses] create healing environments for themselves by attending to their own well-being, letting go of self-destructive behaviors and attitudes, and practicing centering and stress reduction techniques.

These weighty statements gave me the permission I needed to make serving my personal needs for relaxation, restoration, and recovery top priority. I am committed to being a nurse with the capacity to facilitate healing for others, so there was no other path for me.

In January 2014, I set an intention for Radical Self-care and began the work of changing my priorities. The intention was reinforced at a deeper level in November 2018 when health challenges incapacitated me. I found myself looking at a future without the ability to serve humanity in the way I know I’m here to do.

The deeper healing began by engaging appropriate allopathic experts; I did the required testing and followed the resulting guidance/instructions. Because I believe our physical health is a manifestation of our spiritual, mental, and emotional health, I began working with a bio-energy practitioner who works in those realms as well as the physical domain. I have experienced massive changes as a result of his skills – accompanied by my own independent deep dives that ‘mined’ the openings created by his work. Both have had a tremendous influence on the restoration of my health.

I consider myself extremely blessed to have a sister who is an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) and a clinical Homeopathic Master. There is no question in my mind that working with her and taking her recommended homeopathic remedy has had a tremendous impact on my recovery.

I’m more grateful than I can express for the community of loving friends and family who have supported me through this time. I asked them to create a vortex for my health through the power of prayer. Larry Dossey, MD has researched and published extensively about the healing power of prayer. (Larry Dossey, 2013) It was a modality I wanted to incorporate. A huge vortex was created for me at the time of my cardiac surgery. In spite of the cardiac surgeon stating he hadn’t helped me, my heart is returning to a nearly normal function as some who are personally connected to me continue their prayers and meditations for me.

I bought a juicer and began including juicing in my diet. I started an Intermittent Fasting regimen and have lost the fifteen pounds I’ve been trying to lose for years. I chose physical therapy over a pain clinic referral and have now recovered the strength and endurance I felt hopeless of regaining. My pain levels are at a tolerable level, and my state of health is better than I thought reasonable.

In this new Self-care Paradigm I give myself 100% permission to rest when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, enjoy the outdoors when I need to, exercise when I’m able, take time to creatively express myself with whichever talent wants to be expressed in the moment, and to say ‘No’ when saying ‘Yes’ conflicts with my self-care priorities. I didn’t do this all at once – that would have been overwhelming. I started with one or two changes I could commit to and easily manage. The next changes were not so difficult. Over time they’ve added up to a new way of life which I have back in a way I couldn’t see happening a year ago. I’m seeing clients again and am experiencing the capacity to facilitate healing; now it comes from a much deeper level and a higher perspective.

There was a time in my nursing career I had no knowledge of Holistic Nursing as a philosophy or a defined practice. I am so grateful to the nurse manager who introduced me to the specialty in 1995. It has changed my life, helping me create a new belief system about my value, what it means to be a nurturing healer, and how to make it happen. Living by holistic nursing principles can do the same for you.

Carla Mariano, E. R.-B. (2007). Holistic Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice | American Holistic Nurses Association. Silver Spring, MD: Nursesbooks.org, The Publishing Program of ANA.

Larry Dossey, M. (2013). Perspectives on Intercessory Prayer: An Exchange Between Larry Dossey, MD, and Health Care Chaplains (ebook ed.). New York, NY, USA: Routledge

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Moon Care is Self Care

Submitted by Marina Ormes RN, HN-BC (ret)

Because I am an astrologer, it’s hard for me to think about self-care and not think of the Moon. In astrology, the Moon is the symbol that represents needs. The astrological Moon encompasses the intangible: our emotional needs and our needs for caring and nurturing. It symbolizes the mother and the way “mother energy” holds and supports us although we may not have the words to explain why.

Each day, the Moon is in one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The sign the Moon is in reveals the “mood”, or energy of each day. Each zodiac sign falls in one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, or water. And each day has a particular feeling to it; for example, it might be more energetic and action-oriented, as with fire signs, or perhaps more moody and emotional, as with water signs. You can learn the mood of each day with a free Moon planning calendar on my website astrologyheals.com.

Additionally, each of us was born on a day and time when the Moon was in a particular sign. That is your “Moon sign” (different from the “Sun sign” most of us know of from popular astrology).

My Moon sign is Aquarius. When I reflect on my own needs for self-care I notice I feel more deeply nurtured and fed when my life feels spacious, when I don’t have to move quickly from one thing to the next, or fill my time up with busywork.

Aquarius is the sign of detachment, freedom, and outside-the-box thinking. To receive its gifts of lightning bolts of insights, Aquarian types need to clear their minds of chatter and everyday thinking and problem-solving. Aquarian energy flourishes when it can get away from distraction and small talk, and space out. When we are able to clear our heads in this way, the lightning bolts find us and we might solve all of our problems at once!

I know that “taking space” in this way for me is deeply nurturing. I take care of myself by letting myself space out and have unscheduled time. One of my favorite things to do is actually to go to bed early and just lie in bed by myself with no agenda, lightly meditating or trancing, stating affirmations, breathing deeply, or just feeling and listening.

Each of us has our Moon in one of the twelve signs. Knowing your Moon sign will help you know the best ways to care for yourself. Here is a quick, general insight into the needs for each Moon sign. To find your own Moon sign, use the search terms “what is my Moon sign” and you will find some online Moon sign calculators.

MOON SIGNS AND NEEDS

Aries (fire sign): Needs to move, be uncensored, live fully, take risks.

Taurus (earth sign): Needs to work with materials, experience things through the senses, find simplicity.

Gemini (air sign): Needs to explore ideas, ask questions, follow curiosity, exchange ideas.

Cancer (water sign): Needs to feel cozy and safe, feel emotions, provide nurturing, focus on healing.

Leo (fire sign): Needs to be seen and heard, find an audience, move and express, be appreciated.

Virgo (earth sign): Needs to be of service, improve and make better, learn systems and techniques.

Libra (air sign): Needs to relate with others, collaborate, form partnerships, create balance and fairness.

Scorpio (water sign): Needs to feel things, process under the surface, merge with another, transform.

Sagittarius (fire sign): Needs to explore, travel, discover and integrate truths, share conclusions.

Capricorn (earth sign): Needs to organize, work toward goals, create and manage projects.

Aquarius (air sign): Needs to detach, take space, work toward a vision, form acquaintances.

Pisces (water sign): Needs to honor intuitive and psychic information, foster spiritual connection.

Happy Moon Care!

    

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Mindfulness with Meals

Submitted by Tammera J. Karr, Ph.D., BCHN

A trend has taken over our modern lives, one very different from our parents’ and grandparents’ time – in particular, the advent in the last ten years of rapid access to news and social media. Twenty-four seven exposure to news – and just plain nonsense – has a deep, and for some, deadly effect on their health.  Heightened anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression, and fear can precipitate heart attacks, increase the risk of cancer, and more.

A growing number of people have lost the ability to step back, turn off, or even take a deep breath. Deep breathing has solid research supporting its effectiveness in lowering cortisol, improving sleep, cognition, concentration, and digestion, reducing high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. [1]  Our ability to recover, reset, and recharge has become lost in the constant push to bring and do more within our lives.  It is this twenty-four seven availability of stimulation and information that has influenced the marked increase in stress and our ability to be resilient to fear, anxiety, and anger, including in children.

Life consists of making ends meet, family, school, business, dedication to work, and travel. These life experiences all add stress to our lives. Breathing, aging, environmental factors, genetics, and physical activity are also forms of stress – ones we do not always think about as they are factors we can do little to change. In today’s world, we are in a constant fight or flight mode, driving up the stress hormones, constricting blood vessels, and increasing susceptibility to chronic pain and digestive issues. [2]

Besides breathing and sleeping, eating is life’s most vital activity. We cannot sustain ourselves without eating. According to psychologist and author on mindfulness Jon Kabat Zinn, “For the most part, we eat with great automaticity and little insight into its critical importance for us in sustaining life and also in sustaining health.” [3]

In our fast-paced world, attentiveness to the things you “have to do” takes on a greater priority than what is going on internally. “Slowing down” is a foreign concept, especially when it comes to food. We eat in our cars and in front of the computer, with an action that may resemble more closely a starving animal’s ravenous eating or a mindless robot then that of one savoring a nurturing meal with thanks. We pride ourselves on doing several things simultaneously, considering multi-tasking a more efficient method. We may not even care that multi-tasking registers as stress in the mind and therefore, triggers a stress response throughout the whole digestive response in the body.

When we eat while under stress or when experiencing busyness or unpleasant emotions, it affects not only what we choose to eat, but how we digest our food. Headaches, food sensitivities, chronic pain, GI complaints, and loss of cognitive elasticity associated with stress have markedly increased in American, becoming the leading causes of missed work days.

Grace before meals and meditative prayer has a very long history throughout global cultures. These practices share a flow similar to that of resting breathing; even rhythms of music found in worship/meditative services have similarities to breathing patterns.  Modern research on yoga was the first investigation into supporting prayer and meditation as having a positive biochemical response on health. [4] [5] The slowing down of breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs healthy digestion.

The Benefits of Blessing Food

Blessing food brings about a state of presence and mindfulness. Showing gratitude over a meal allows you to stop and be present. From this state of undistracted presence you will eat mindfully and enjoy the food more. It turns every meal into a holy time of rest and recovery.

When you eat mindfully you become more in tune with the food and your body. You’ll know if what you’re eating is beneficial for you. You’ll be unmistakably aware of the signals your body is sending you to stop eating, making it harder to overeat. Mindful eating can help break compulsive eating and food addictions if done consistently at every meal.

The hypothalamus, thymus gland, and brain function of individuals who practice mindfulness show more elasticity and resiliency to the impact of stress. [6] The positive effects on the HPA access and chronic illness result even when genetic factors are present in a contemplative individual versus those with no self-care/belief system. Contemplation and introspection have been part of human existence so long, it may even be coded into our DNA. Regardless of one’s belief system, those who practice prayer, meditation, and chants can stimulate a slow deep breathing response, calming brain chemistry and stress hormones allowing them to weather periods of disaster, strife, and upheaval with greater flexibility.

So my challenge to you in these stress-filled times is to make space for self-care through mindfulness at meal times: 1) At mealtimes, turn off the TV, Ipad, phone, or radio. 2) Give a moment to quiet the mind, breathing deeply through the nose once, twice, and 3) then give thanks for the food before you, for the hands that grew the food, and those that prepared the meal. 4) Express gratitude for the gift of health it provides your body. We are but feathers on the breath of God…

Hildegard von Bingen

 

 

 

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”
Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179

To Peace and Healthy Foods

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396/|
[3] https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/mindfulness-helps-us-digest-and-enjoy-our-food
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/
[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html

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Taking Care of Me

Submitted by Cordy Anderson, RN, BSN, QTTT, CCMHP
OHNA Treasurer

One thing I want to share right off is that doing things to take care of myself is much easier now that I am retired. Before retirement, I awoke and did a short meditation, ate a healthy organic breakfast, made a big organic salad for my lunch, and walked to work connecting with trees and plants along the way. In my workspace, I had many cards and things that were spiritual reminders to be present.

I have also done Qi Gong, Yoga, short hikes, and a small amount of cycling; none of these were done as consistent as would be really helpful, but all when done were enjoyed.  The other big support, both while working and continues to the present, is my practice of Therapeutic Touch (TT). In 1984 I learned TT to support my hospice and home health patients, and it truly was a great tool in my nurse bag. Little did I know then what I know now… that each time I centered (became fully present, peaceful, grounded and connected to source energy) I not only helped the person receiving TT, but I helped myself.

Now that I am retired my morning meditations are longer and include chanting. I find the daily practice of deep peace and stillness, which actually connects me to all that is, to be the most helpful thing I do. Even if it is only for five minutes or two minutes, it makes a huge difference. My TT practice continues with my inner self being more aware of the energetic support that occurs for both my client and me. As the Universal Healing Energy comes through me it is like sipping honey through a straw, some is going to stick to the straw. I listen to music that nourishes my soul, I limit the amount of news I read, and I stay connected to friends and family. I believe joy is our natural state so I spend as much time in joy as I can.

Sending you wholeness and harmony, joy and peace, thanks for reading, Cordy Anderson

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A Sweet Surprise About Holistic Nursing

Submitted by Christina Dynamite BSN, RN-BC, NC-BC
OHNA Conference Coordinator-in-Training

As a new board member I was tasked with writing a sort of “what is holistic nursing to me” blog post and I’ve found myself unable to define that quite yet, so let me tell you about my experiences at my first OHNA conference in 2018 to explore that question a bit more. 

To be honest, I decided to go to the OHNA conference because it would be about $1500 cheaper than going to the APNA conference and both time and money were short.   Besides, when the choices are a short drive to Breitenbush or a flight to Ohio there’s a clear winner!  I had a lot of stereotypes about the “kind” of nurse I would find at this conference since I’ve attended self-help workshops in the past and there used to be some “holistic nurses” bringing oils and smiles to the med-surg unit I worked on, including one who wore a lot of purple.  I knew there would be talk of “energy” but what of “evidence?”  As a new nurse coach, I had a lot of hopes I would meet hordes of holistic entrepreneurs with shared wisdom.  I also had a lot of fears ranging from not being “holistic” enough or learning that I was really that “woo-woo” too and would then fall off the slippery slope of reality and evidence-based practice and lose the respect of my nursing peers.  Of course, I also wondered about the potential etiquette and awkwardness of seeing professional colleagues naked. 

Ultimately, more hopes than fears manifested.  My first encounter with these “holistic” nurses was indeed rather anticlimactic for the fears and stereotypes I held.  At dinner the first evening I found nurses from the OR, community, hospice, med-surg, ER, surgery, and even a high school.   They were at the conference because they were curious about holistic nursing as well, or came because they had education funds to use and wanted to soak.  The nurses that did self-identify as holistic integrated complementary modalities informally into to their practice or even identified ‘listening’ as a holistic modality – it often feels like a luxury to spend time listening in the hospital, isn’t it?   

The opening circle started the shift towards being willing to call myself a holistic nurse.  The familiarity of intentional space setting combined with ritual set me at ease, and it was awesome to see the variety of nurses represented.   There was even one person I knew – and uh, oh, was it going to be awkward to see that person naked?   I should caveat that this was not my first time at Breitenbush.   In the morning, Kathy Bell’s “Introduction to Holistic Nursing” sealed the deal.  Kathy described holistic nursing as a “lens” rather than a specialty, and it made a lot of sense to me – it’s what I had been doing for eleven years.   

Medications and “treatments” alone have never been enough to truly heal someone, though they give the appearance of it.  The only time a day in med-surg felt right for me was if I got to hold a hand or hold space for someone’s emotions and spiritual healing as well.   Recently in my mental health nursing practice, I have begun to integrate more creativity and mindfulness techniques. I’ve begun opening the conversation with clients about diet, spirituality, and the need for courage and risk-taking to facilitate their recovery.   Last year when I started having coaching conversations with caregivers I learned how sick we “healers” are and found these exchanges healing for myself as well, unlike those in the hospital. 

It was well-researched evidence interlaced with the personal journeys of the presenters that opened my eyes about potential therapeutic uses of CBD, illuminated the ways our food is making us sick, and even surprisingly taught me a practical way that astrology could help us understand ways to potentially communicate with clients.   “Energy” came into the story when it was evident a lingering headache was because I was holding back a slew of emotions and allowing my brain to bully my heart into being okay –yet again – and I was indeed called out on this and supported through this healing process, topped off with a massage, lavender oil, ibuprofen, and a peaceful nap. 

As it turns out, it wasn’t any more awkward than usual being naked around professional colleagues because over the course of the conference they had become friends – so I decided to join the ranks!   I look forward to deepening my practice and understanding holistic nursing in action as I interact with our group over time.  Woo!  

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My Journey to “Sacred Selfishness”

Submitted by Breeze Powell Spivey, RN

I grew up in a family where all things alternative and natural were our normal. We always had a naturopath as our family practitioner, and we used plants and folk remedies as our first line of medicine. My mother really taught us to listen to and not fear our bodies. She practiced as a home birth midwife when I was a child. As the eldest of four, I was present for the births of all three of my younger siblings.  As a five-year-old, I had already decided I wanted to become a midwife someday too.

Breeze with her son Izaiah

During my teen years, I was drawn toward different modalities of healing. I learned a lot about crystals and gemstones and their healing power. I apprenticed with an elder friend of our family who was a reiki master. She attuned me to levels 1 and 2. For many years I have studied plant and herbal medicine. I have made my own tonics, tinctures, and salves. I love the magic of making medicine from what grows around us.

After traveling to South America and Asia in my late teens, my partner (at the time) and I settled in Northern California. At age 19 I found out I was pregnant and gave birth to my Son, Izaiah at twenty years of age. I struggled with depression during and after my pregnancy. When my son was two, his father and I separated, and I moved back to Oregon to be closer to my support system. I remained depressed for many years, hiding it very well. I finally reached a point where I felt so hopeless and lost, I opened my mind to trying an antidepressant. I was fearful and had my own biases toward pharmaceuticals. After a while, I started to feel better, but eventually, I felt numb.

Breeze and her husband Michael

I went through some pretty dark times, and with the support of my doctor I eventually weaned off the antidepressants. The process was slow and painful, but I finally came back around to feeling like myself.  It was during this time I started to question what was next for me in life. I was still very inspired to seek an education in midwifery, but which path I wanted to take was unclear. I had a few close friends at the time who were nurses or were going through nursing school. The path seemed daunting and overwhelming. Finally, after some deep contemplation, I reached my decision to go to nursing school. I wanted to choose a path that had many opportunities within it. I felt that for me to be able to serve others in the most holistic way possible I needed to dive into western medicine and gain an understanding and appreciation for a world that I had held foreign.

Nursing school rocked my world. It made me question myself in ways I never had. It tore apart preconceived notions and ideas I had created. At one point I felt like I was becoming a hypochondriac – every subject we studied led to another self- diagnosis! I could feel myself embodying symptoms and becoming engrossed with dis-ease and it’s processes . Often I felt a mixture of inspiration and despair. I wanted so badly to make a difference for the patients I encountered and I also felt so limited by the current system of health care in our country. I joined our student nursing organization and started to work on community projects and outreach. That year I also traveled to the Oregon Student Nursing Association’s annual conference. It was at that conference I visited a table that members of OHNA had set up. I thought to myself, if there is such a thing as holistic nursing, then I must be on the right path. I attended Marina’s class that day about astrology and I was not only inspired, but relieved to finally feel like I would be able to incorporate all the holistic practices and ideals I had gathered thus far, with the new knowledge of nursing practice I was gaining.

Breeze The Surfer

For the past two years, I worked as a nurse home visitor in Lincoln County. My clients were pregnant women and young children. I got to explore my passion for working closely with this population, which I had dreamed of serving since childhood. I have learned so much about myself through this work and about how I want to move forward in my nursing career.

Due to some life changes, I chose to leave my job in October, just prior to this years OHNA annual conference. It was attending this years’ conference that really has catapulted me toward a new way of envisioning and incorporating holism into my life.  I was so moved by this gathering of like-minded healers and nurses. I realized I had been making excuses for years to not give back to myself the way I give to others. This had led me to feel burned out at times. I had made a habit of feeling guilty for making myself a priority. During the conference, I was awakened to a new concept, “sacred selfishness.” This realization that being selfish can be sacred has allowed me to focus on self-care in a new way. This is my new journey, one which I’m sure will last my lifetime. I view holism as tapping into all levels of our being. True healing can occur when we honor all aspects of ourselves; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I feel that I am finally on the path to self-healing.

Though I am currently on a hiatus from practicing nursing, it is my goal in the coming year to incorporate all the knowledge I have gained and find new ways of sharing and learning. I am committing much of my time to homeschooling my son. I continue to teach bellydance to women in my community, and I find solace in the ocean while surfing as much as possible. I am currently building a new business with my mother centered around medical cannabis. I plan to join the American Cannabis Nurses Association.  I would like to broaden my understanding of cannabis as a medicine and the healing powers of the endocannabinoid system. As far as my passion for women’s health and birth, I continue to help facilitate a group for mothers in my community called Womens‘ Connect. This is a safe place for women to gather and share in the experience of pregnancy and motherhood.

I look forward to reaching out to other nurses, students, and healers so they can learn about OHNA.  I am honored to be a part of the OHNA Board, and I am excited to work alongside such talented and gifted women. Cheers to a new year, one full of giving and receiving!

Breeze The Artist

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A Member’s Journey: Finding My Voice

Submitted by Lee Anne Hellesto, Nurse Practitioner

I really started down my path in my fifties (and no, you don’t have to wait that long!!). I had just finished NP school and had a good job in Internal Medicine treating the elderly population. I felt strongly I was in the right place and helping people who needed help. After several years, I noticed I was feeling “flat”, not depressed, just no juice. I tried to fill up with life activities to “energize” myself but the feeling persisted. One day I mentioned it to a friend and she suggested I try a workshop she and another friend were putting on about midlife and what was next. That workshop and the ones following changed my life.

The workshop was about opening to hear my inner voice, to understand what I really wanted. Boy did I struggle!! I had spent so many years doing everything the way I was “supposed to” that I really did not know what I wanted. I came to understand deep down I had been treading water, waiting for some unknown something. That one workshop cracked my heart open. Two days after the workshop I went for a drive on a beautiful fall day, turned on Celtic Women, singing to I Am The Sky and The Sun and cried for 45 miles. I just kept the song on repeat and let the tears flow. On my return home I did the same thing. After ninety miles of crying, I went to my friend and demanded, “What the hell did you do to me?” Thus began my foray into the world outside the conventional.

I signed up for more workshops searching for me, digging deeper under all the layers of resistance I had built up. I went to the National Wellness Conference and found other professionals who approached medicine entirely differently. My world was opening up and I encountered Integrative Medicine with its Holistic approach. I was returning to my roots and what I had learned in nursing school.

At the same time, the Universe had other lessons for me. As I opened up I started feeling other people’s symptoms in my body. I experienced muscle weakness, neurologic symptoms, and profound fatigue. I was completely freaked out. I reached out to my friends trying to understand what was going on. This led me to my first energy teacher who helped me manage what I was experiencing and introduced me to Energy Medicine. I worked with her for the next five years. She was a phenomenal healer the like of which I have not found since.

I found myself in two worlds: practicing Integrative Medicine with a holistic focus and being strongly aware of the energetic nature of the disease process. I started quietly practicing some energy techniques in my office and getting amazing results. One example was dropping a pain level from a 6/10 to level 2/10 in 4 breaths. I was blown away.

Still, I struggled with stepping forward to be the real me. I strongly felt I had to stay in my head and do medical care according to the rulebook, according to the ways other providers had proven worked. But my heart told me symptoms had simpler solutions with Energy Medicine. This struggle with duality, staying in my head as opposed to leading with my heart, has continued for many years.

Again the Universe had a different idea on how to reveal my path. Clients kept showing up at my door for Energy Medicine and the results we were getting had no medical explanation. The results ranged from bringing brain function back online five years post Traumatic Brain Injury, to healing chronic pain, to releasing frozen shoulder; and the results were rapid!

Yet, I struggled to even name what type of Energy work I was doing (I have since found Intuitive Energy Medicine!!! Yea!). I read, researched, considered many classes/workshops/programs trying to find my answers. Ultimately, every time, it came back to a quiet answer from inside me that I had all the knowledge and training I needed.That sentence bears repeating: a quiet answer from inside me that I had all the knowledge and training I needed. This sentence may strike home with those of you reading this.

Get quiet, get still, ask the question and listen closely to your heart. You are here on this planet now to bring your unique gifts to this time and you are the only one with your extraordinary experiences and talents. Come and join us.

Namaste,
Lee Anne

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A Member’s Holistic Journey – “Suddenly Awake”

Submitted by Anita Stewart, RN

My back was broken, my legs numb. Lying in the hospital bed I pondered the recent series of troubling events.  One morning while putting on my riding boots I had a premonition; a vivid movie in my mind showed me being thrown off my horse and breaking my back. In disbelief, I went riding that day only to experience this premonition coming true.

A broken back, fractured skull and scapula left me incapacitated for four arduous months. While reading a book my spiritual nurse buddie brought over, “Quiet talks with the Master”, an amazing event took place.  As I read the page entitled “Be Still and Hear my Voice,” I angrily shouted out, “OK God, if you want to talk to me, then make that clock stop ticking.”  Suddenly my grandfather clock went utterly silent; the room was like a sensory deprivation tank.  Then a loving voice said to me, “My child, you have many questions and I am here to answer them.”

What! Is that God talking to me!?  Before the questions were formulated in my mind the answers came instantaneously. Time stood still as a deep abiding comfort came over me. Even though we were in the throes of financial ruin, I had complete and utter trust.

I was told I would be used as an instrument of healing. Of course, the left-brained nurse in me said, “What do I need to study, what books should I read, what classes should I take?” He answered, “You need only show up, allow the energy to pass through you, and get your ego and personality out of the way.”

In the months following this event, I did nothing on my own volition.  Tuned in and listening, I heard His voice directing me in every situation. It was fascinating and surreal, but temporary.

After four months of rehabilitation, I was able to return to my job in the ER. I continued heeding God’s guidance, which brought great clarity and peace to my life. When God spoke, I listened. It was not hard.  I was told to buy a healing table and invite friends over to experience the “Energy.”  My friend Rachel, also a nurse, was my first guinea pig. As she lay on the table, my movements were not of my own. I was guided by unseen forces. Although skeptical at first, she said she experienced an intense heat coming from my hands. As my hands were hovering over her pelvis, I stated, “Rachel you have endometriosis!” (This was later confirmed by her doctor.) Her periods had previously stopped for three months without explanation.  The day after the healing session she called and said, “My period started at 2:00 a.m. this morning!”

And so it began.  There were many amazing results from this healing energy work flowing through me. With complete trust and faith, I just showed up.  I let go and surrendered to Divine Intelligence that knew where and what was needed.  Messages came through for clients. It was as if this “Unknowable Force” was speaking, using my voice.

The words of others humble me: “She pushed me through my self-inflicted limits…”- “Beyond any expectations…” – “I feel super relaxed and low stress…”

Others had profound changes: one overcame a fear of flying, resolved after one session.  Another, in a bad marriage, gained the strength and courage to leave her famous rock star husband. After just one session, a diabetic woman on an insulin pump discovered her insulin requirements dropped by half – unexplainable in human terms.

Suddenly, after about eleven months, silence! The voice was barely discernible. I felt the bubble had burst. Speaking one more time I heard, “These things I do through you, you too can do. But first you must do the inner work.”

I felt empty, devoid of ability or direction. But this undeniable experience ignited a passionate search for more answers, like those inner truths that had been freely given. An unimaginable journey to re-discover this “Great Mystery” was set in motion.

Today I have inner peace, unshakeable faith, and a life filled with grace and wonder. This awakening returned me to my innocence; a child comfortably at play amidst the mysteries of Spirit and consciousness. I have come to a place of KNOWING.  Aligning with the mind of God, receiving Divine Intelligence, requires complete and unmitigated Surrender. Only in our Silence can we come to know the Truth.  To quote Meister Eckhart: “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me. One Seeing. One Knowing. One Love.”

Bridging hands-on energy practices with allopathic medicine became my passion. Patients loved the experience, stating it gave them a sense of peace and tranquility otherwise missing from day to day hospital tasks. Some were able to release tension, headaches, anxiety, fears, and body aches not relieved by pain medicines. I used Healing Touch and Therapeutic Touch on co-workers also, helping them get grounded and centered.  It’s truly what nursing is all about.

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A “Novice’s” Journey to Holistic Nursing

Submitted by Alie Oyster, BSN, RN
OHNA Secretary

Alie Oyster

Nine years ago, I completed a yoga teacher-training program. Tuning into my body through the physical asana and mind via my readings of the yoga sutras, I discovered a lot about myself. I learned to slow down and work from my inner strength. This gave me the clarity to reevaluate my goals. With a degree in Product Development from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and a career in the fashion industry on the rise, I began to ponder my future. Chief aspects of my character were not being nourished by my chosen profession – my concern with wellbeing, my passion for health and exercise, and my interest in people. Furthermore, the demoralization, poor environmental practice, and mistreatment of workers that are typical of the fashion industry were in disagreement with the practice I was so intent on, that of ahimsa (“do no harm”). A change had to be made. With that, I moved from California to Oregon to complete my prerequisites and apply to nursing school.

Alie’s favorite yoga space

My journey through nursing school was filled with angst. I questioned going into a field that seemed so focused on treatment with pharmaceuticals. I was appalled by the food provided in local hospitals and unsettled by the environment. If I felt on edge and fearful, how did my patients feel? If acupuncture, yoga, and meditation helped me with these feelings, why wasn’t it readily available to my patients? I questioned leaving the field entirely but quickly found a supportive community. I joined my school’s Holistic Health Club, which I eventually went on to lead. With likeminded peers, I was able to explore various integrative modalities and was overcome with hope that nursing is more than passing meds and following orders. Through that group, I came to discover this organization. My involvement with the community and attendance at the yearly conference has propelled me through various milestones. Those began with graduating nursing school, to starting my first job in corrections, transitioning into community health, and most recently, stepping into a role as an RN at a residential treatment facility for pregnant women and those with young children. The Oregon Holistic Nurses Association (OHNA) has provided me with a source of solace in a tumultuous healthcare environment. My participation in the organization has deepened my connection to self and put me in touch with the type of nurse I want to be.

Bamboo Forest Bathing on a hike in Hawaii – ‘Nature-Nurturing’

When it comes to a holistic practice, I am frequently asked: What is your modality? The truth is, I do not have one. I have studied yoga and bring breath work into my practice, but I do not currently lead classes (more to come on that at a later date!). I have done some training in Therapeutic Touch and hope to integrate that more in coming months. But I am also content with the exploration, and unattached to becoming an expert in any one area. There is value in being a generalist. I embrace the various tools that exist to bring us more wholly into practice and to guide patients on their healing journey. To me, holistic nursing is an attitude. It is about being present and recognizing the connection of body, mind, and spirit in the healing process. It is about truly listening. With this approach comes creativity. Whether it be nutritional guidance, breathwork, movement, or intentional touch, I seek to bring my patients into greater connection with their bodies and minds, freeing their souls. That is certainly what this work has done for me.

My hope is that nurses exploring the realm of holistic nursing are not intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of learning a specific modality. I have had moments of questioning my “credibility” as a holistic nurse without an attached specialty. What I have learned along the way is that, while the tools are useful, what’s most important is establishing presence and connection, with oneself and those cared for. From that place, healing work can be done.

Alie & her beloved ‘pooch’ – ‘Animal-Nurturing’

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