Mind, Body & Spirit is a new series that will feature a rotating group of authors who will discuss a broad range of health-related issues. The articles will include answers to reader questions, interviews and commentary.
By Pattie Traina
What is holistic nursing? Holistic nursing is a specialty in the field of nursing, focused on healing the whole person; body, mind, emotion, spirit and environment. Nurses become therapeutic partners with the clients in their care because they believe it is not enough to just treat the physical symptoms of a disease or condition. Florence Nightingale believed that treating the whole person rather than a single physical symptom or disease was best as long as we include their mental, emotional, spiritual, social, cultural, relational, contextual and environmental aspects of the lives examined.
Holistic nurses often integrate complementary practices or modalities along with clinical care. Using a healing presence the nurse incorporates: biofeedback, therapeutic massage, humor, imagery, meditation, aromatherapy, herbal or homeopathic preparations to achieve calm and ease in the body.
Acting on the principle that stress causes dis-ease in the body, we need to counteract with stress reducing and stress managing techniques, such as meditation. Stress, unchecked, can raise blood pressure and set the body’s immune system into a constant state of arousal. Coping with stress using meditation saves the immune system from becoming exhausted so it is ready when you need it. Once learned and adopted, daily meditation helps one cope with environmental changes, and calms the nervous system allowing the immune system to work better keeping pathogens at bay.
A useful tool is “mindfulness meditation”, the simplest way to cope with assaults on our body-mind-spirit. A mindfulness practice can be started slowly at home and doesn’t need any special gear or specific body poses. Mindfulness meditation, combined with relaxing breathing techniques, can be employed while walking, washing dishes, vacuuming or on the train to work.
One-Minute Mindfulness, by Donald Altman, suggests a very useful exercise: start off the morning with a short meditation. After the alarm and before your feet hit the floor, spend a minute assessing your body and releasing any held tension from the night. Listen to your surroundings: birds outside the window, pets, spouses, and the noises of the morning. Be at peace with your body and learn to pay attention to everything you do, feel and taste in the morning. Meditations classes are held at Vikasa Yoga & Pilates Studio on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month
Patricia Stout Traina MS, RN, CNS is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Holistic Nursing.