SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 3

Tuesday afternoon’s break out session with Dr. Kreitzer focused on Integrative Nursing, which is a way of being, doing, and knowing that advances the health and wellbeing of people, families, and communities through caring and healing relationships.

She shared the six principles of integrative nursing along with nursing care practices for each: 1) Human beings are whole systems inseparable from their environment, connected and dynamic; 2) Human beings have the innate capacity for health and wellbeing; 3) Nature has healing and restorative properties that contribute to health and wellbeing; 4) Integrative nursing is person-centered and relationship-based; 5) It is informed by evidence and uses the full range of therapeutic modalities to support and augment the healing process moving from least intensive and invasive to more depending on need and context;  and 6) It focuses on the health and wellbeing of caregivers as well as those they serve.

While all areas are important, that last point may be the most significant because one cannot give to others what one doesn’t have to give. Some tips she gave for taking care of ourselves as nurses included developing a personal plan for health and wellbeing, taking time for self-reflection and contemplation DURING your shift, and engaging in reflective practices such as journaling. Integrative nursing requires mindfulness, presence, intuition, and intention.

Mindfulness means connecting with empathy to your patient and being present with them in that moment. It is being responsive rather than reactive.

Intuition can be taught by pointing toward pattern recognition. Nursing narratives are a way of sharing this intuitive experience with younger nurses in which seasoned nurses share their stories of “knowing”.

There are many resources on the Center for Spirituality and Healing website at http://www.csh.umn.edu/.

Finally, my most interesting day of the conference wrapped up with the most amazing experience of traditional Mexican healing in the presence of two very gifted and knowledgeable curanderas.

We boarded a bus and drove across town to a temazcal or Mexican sweat lodge. The ritual process was very similar to that of our Sunday night experience, however, the fact that these were Latino women, one of whom was from Mexico and the other having apprenticed under her in Mexico helped to lend a greater sense of legitimacy to the ceremony than was previously experienced. No disrespect intended to the first ceremony we experienced. This just had a much different feel.

We paid our respects to the four directions and to the earth and sky through prayers and rattling instruments. We then bowed low and entered the temazcal which is a dome-shaped building with herbs and steam that represents (once again) a womb. We were provided a rag, a bucket of water, and a handful of exfoliating herbs to use during the ceremony as needed to rinse ourselves and detoxify. There was a beautiful assortment of chanting, singing, drumming, and even some shouting during the course of the ritual. And the heat….wow. It was very hot. Very steamy. But not miserably so. It was a very healing aromatic steam. Each of us had our own issues that came forth, but none of us were aware of anyone else’s issues. Near the end of the ritual, we were offered some cool tea brewed for supporting our detoxification process. We were later able to listen to and discuss with our hostesses much more information about their knowledge, training, and tools.

What amazes me most about this entire experience is the incredible healing knowledge these women possess. The University of New Mexico honors that tradition and knowledge and recognizes its practices as truly complimentary to the healing process.  I will definitely be seeking out more information and training on this process in my quest to expand my role as healer.

There is more information gleaned from the conference, but for now, I will close this series of blog posts and move on to other tasks that require my time and attention. The experience was such a gift on so many levels. The energy of the people in attendance and presenting was such that my normally introverted, crowd-avoiding self felt so alive in their presence. Over and over we were reminded that we are not just nurses and doctors and therapists, but that we in fact are healers.

May I remember every day with every person I encounter that my life’s calling is to be a healer, and may every action and every word that comes forth from me be healing in some way.

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