Mandalas and Well-Being

submitted by deonne wright, RN – OHNA Communication Coordinator

 totem mandala - 2012

deonne’s personalized totem mandala – 2012 image cred: Eloyria Ra

 

From the moment I discovered mandalas, I have loved them. Something unexplainable about them pulls me in and takes me into my own center. I feel the ‘magic’ of the sacred geometry they represent. I’m not a mathematician, but I can see the math they exemplify and can feel the power of the golden ratio.

Turmoil has accompanied me much of my life from an early age. Having Uranus play such a big part in my natal chart has challenged me to live the courage of my convictions in the face of disapproval from those I love whose beliefs veer far away from mine. The values of justice and spiritual freedom informed my explorations even at the tender age of five.

I am very curious. As a child and young adult, that presented as questions – many of them! In general, when those questions show up around the topics of justice and spiritual freedom in an extremely conservative Christian family, they tend to be shut down; and the turmoil begins to fester. The concept of ‘well-being’ is incomprehensible in that place for it is born in a state of inner serenity.

The search for serenity and tranquility has been a long one for me. Today I define ‘well-being’ as a state of self not related to external factors. It’s feeling completely at peace within myself no matter what is going on around me or in my personal circumstances. This state comes from a centered place where I can retreat to the safety of neutrality/non-judgment and connect to my divinity – my inner divine sanctuary.

Working as a hospice nurse taught me the most about well-being of all the nursing roles I’ve had the privilege to experience. My patients taught me well-being does not mean ‘cured’, healthy enough, wealthy enough, loved enough, or any of those typical measures. When they faced uncontrollable circumstances with the courage and confidence nurtured in the inner sanctuary, they experienced a radiating serenity.

Mandalas are a tool for helping me find my center. Sometimes I use my personalized mandalas to meditate. Other times just glancing at them when I’m beginning to feel turmoil creeping in is enough to bring me back to center. I’ve also used these same mandalas – created especially for me by healers – as crystal grids for bringing in specific healing energies.

deonne’s personalized mandala used to create a healing crystal grid 2018 image cred: Eloyria Ra

 

I created an intention eighteen months ago with a crystal grid using one of these personalized mandalas for healing the migraines I’ve experienced since I was nine years old. I kept reactivating it for a number of months before I made the connection between it and the appearance of the only successful intervention that has ever impacted the true healing of that debilitating experience of chronic pain for me. (For the curious, I used clear quartz points, amethyst points and tumbles, a dioptase chunk, lapis tumbles, orgonite, and a lapis Ganesh, and a shungite pyramid to create the healing grid. I also placed a photo of myself under the large amethyst in the center.)

When I worked as a Staff Development Specialist in the acute care setting, I began printing and laminating mandalas for members of different teams I led. I found them posted on the walls of their office, slipped into the front cover of their everyday binders, and hanging from the ceiling in some spaces. Some staff I didn’t even know inquired where they could get theirs! That was a message to me others found as much value in mandalas as I do.

If you’ve never worked with or experienced the power of mandalas, you might consider trying them out. They’re easy to find and download from the internet. There are also adult mandala coloring books that tend to bring relaxation, calm, and a sense of well-being just through the activity of coloring. Buddhists create sand mandalas without attachment, simply for the sense of connection and well-being created within the activity – and then they are destroyed afterward.

The most fascinating mandalas of all I find to be animated ones created from numerology. I’ve linked a one minute example below for you to download and enjoy which was created with healing intention by Keith Allen Kay.

HealingLightShort

There are many ways mandalas can be used to help achieve a sense of well-being. I encourage you to explore and experiment with them, observing your inner state to discover if they might help you achieve inner serenity.

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What Is Self-Care?

submitted by Kathleen Bell, RN, MSN, CNM, MS1-BC, AHNBC

In my roles as a certified Advanced Holistic Nurse, Meditation Specialist, and teaching faculty for AHNA’s Integrative Healing Arts Program (IHAP) I read a LOT. And it seems to me, in the new year 2020, that the “buzzword” within integrative health circles has changed from mindfulness to self-care.  I cannot count the articles I have read recently that reiterate holistic nursing’s foundational truth that caring for yourself not only increases your own well-being, but improves your abilities to relate to and care for others. So what is self-care? Let’s first examine what it is not:

  • Self-care is not one-size-fits-all. Self-care means asking yourself what you need, inviting yourself to listen, then giving yourself an honest answer. Follow-through on that answer is up to you; it means something different for everyone. This reflective inquiry process can be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or at any interval that seems sensible in your situation. Since the time I got a “diary” as a girl, I have been attached to journaling. If writing resonates with you, check out The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron and look at the practice she calls “morning pages.” IHAP suggests exploring what sort of reflective practice fits your needs: some people meditate on a cushion, others at the beach or in the forest or mountains, others on a running trail or bicycle or at a yoga studio.  Others sing, dance, draw, read inspirational writings – what feeds your soul and makes your heart sing?
  • Self-care is not self-indulgence. It is not just for the privileged, wealthy, or frivolous. For many years I enjoyed “occasional” massage only as a treat when I was on vacation – spending many dollars at a ski resort or some faraway venue. When I discovered holism (admittedly more than ten years into my nursing career) I began to understand that massage was integrally related to healing and health maintenance, and I found talented and affordable practitioners in my own environment. For my birthday one year (one of those with a zero on the end!) my present to myself was a promise to get a regular massage every month as a way to ‘stay well’. (Some of you may have heard my personal health mantra: “It is easier to stay well than to get well”.) I have also been successful at convincing health care practitioners to prescribe massage for a variety of conditions, so the cost is covered by insurance for a time.
  • Self-care is not always fun. Self-inquiry can be difficult if you take an honest look at habits that you have created for yourself and examine their long-term effects: eating, sleeping,  substance use for stimulation/relaxation, how much/what kind of physical movement your life contains, work/life balance, relationship/behavioral habits, media use, etc., etc. If you’ve been doing something that causes you to think “Maybe I need to stop (do less of) this…” then a commitment to self-care can be an invitation to take your own good advice. Prioritization and discipline are needed to stick with decisions that may not be easy right now (like going to bed earlier and/or waking up earlier in order to have personal time, or saying “NO” as a complete sentence and not feeling guilty about it) but will feel really good later on! I once had my nurse-practitioner write me a prescription (to show to my nurse-manager) that said my medical condition could no longer support night shift work. My circadian rhythm was dangerously disrupted by working both days and nights, and my symptoms resolved when I began to sleep when it was dark again.
    Your “Self” is NOT only about you! Your self is truly bigger than just you as an individual. Most of us have been socialized to feel guilty about self-care, because we have been conditioned to believe that putting ourselves first is #1) selfish and wrong as a person, and #2) unprofessional as a nurse. Seen holistically, our view of ourselves expands beyond the individual to include everyone and everything we touch in any way: our families and friends, our workplaces and communities, the whole of the natural world that we share with all beings. Practicing self-care improves our interactions with literally everything around us, which can lead to increased creativity, cooperation and understanding, protection/conservation and even transformation. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone understood caring in this way?

“Self-care is not a virtue…it is a radical act of love.” (Tygielski, S.)

For me, becoming whole again meant dedicating one day a week as a sabbath, a day set apart. I have been doing this for 20 years now (and I have only been retired for 6!) My preference has always been to spend as much of this day outside (and off the grid) as I can. Watching the sun rise on a mountaintop, hiking all day, walking the beach, watching for whales or birds or seashells, skiing, eating outside, meditation at sunset, biking, reading a book, writing in my journal in the sunshine or the forest – these are activities that never cease to renew me.

Cameron, J. (1992). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Greater Creativity.

Tygielski, S. (1/19/2019) The Five Rules for Self-Care, Mindful Magazine

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Making Time for Self-Care: A Lifestyle Not a Chore

Submitted by Breeze Powell Spivey, RN – OHNA Director-at-Large

For whatever reason, the thought of self-care is daunting at times. I’m not sure at what point I started to think of self-care as more of a chore than a way of life. Maybe it was the association of having to spend money on a yoga class or some lavish spa treatment that made me feel as if my life had to be altered in some drastic way to incorporate self-care into my routine. Sure these things are nice, but not necessary.

I had to stop, and first recognize all of the ways in which I already incorporate self-care into my life. My weekly dance class where I get to teach and be surrounded by a lovely community of women, this is self- care. Being brave and jumping into the ocean on a cold and windy day to catch a couple of waves (maybe!), this is self-care. Watching my favorite show with my family, this is self-care. Taking a walk with a friend or grabbing a cup of tea. Getting a good night of sleep or going on a date with my husband every once in a while. All of these activities that I try to maintain time for each week are a part of my self-care. It’s important not to overlook all of the ways in which we already incorporate self-care.

Now with that being said, I still have to put in the effort of continuing to make time for the people and activities that bring me peace and joy. I post notes around the house to remind myself to breathe, drink water, eat mindfully, show gratitude, and move my body. When I feel restless I allow myself to get up and move around. Take a quick break and a few deep breaths. Trying not to get down on myself when I break this pattern. Allow room for mistakes and space for growth. Practicing self-love and forgiveness. The kind of compassion that we so often reserve for others, yet deprive ourselves from.

 

Being on the OHNA board and having a self-care check-in at the beginning of each of our meetings has been really beneficial. Finding an individual or a group that helps you to stay accountable can be a powerful tool. I know that I have changed my view of self-care because of our regular check-ins. I no longer view self-care as something that can be measured by importance, but by the feeling I get from doing something I love. A strict daily practice might be your way of self-care, or it might be a free-flowing and ever-changing rhythm. Either way, honor your individual needs and try many different things. Just like all of us are unique so is our approach to self-care. Breathe, show gratitude and keep doing what makes your heart smile!

 

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Self-care can be scary

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

This is our very first Vlog!!

Christina provides some expert tips for exploring a different approach to self-care!

Check it out here

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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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