Spiritual consciousness and healing

This is my first time posting a blog and the experience has been both exciting and a little uncomfortable. I am moving out of my comfort zone, writing from my heart and soul. I’m thankful for the experience and hope to get better with time.  Here it goes!

As a young child, growing up in a rural village in the Pines region of Mississippi, and spending time with my mother’s side of the family in my beloved Louisiana, I was in love with the beauty of the infinite universe. I was very connected to the earth that I loved to play in and smell, the flowers I loved to smell and pick, the tomatoes, okra, onion, squash, peas and butterbeans that I loved to eat and that I helped my grandfather nurture and pick when they were ripe, the love and care of my father and mother and older brother, my ancestors, grandparents – both maternal and paternal – and great grandparents, great aunts and uncles and cousins and the infinite universe of goodness, simplicity, love, and beauty. The freedom and love of being a child of the infinite universe allowed me to sense into the universal rhythms of light and dark, activity and rest, stability and change, being and becoming, even though I didn’t have an advanced vocabulary for these things at that time. All of these experiences represented a universe where healing, love, and nurturing occurred. In the past few years, I have come to see these experiences as reflecting spiritual consciousness. I cherish being in touch with spiritual consciousness, and, thus, carefully tend to it patiently as a potentiality for nursing’s healing mission. Can the nurse working within spiritual consciousnes help other human beings experience healing and their own spiritual consciousness in order to transcend suffering of psychic, physical, social, existential, and emotional pain? I believe so.

Within the nursing context, I view spiritual consciousness as the unfolding of loving energy and various modalities of integrating nature and meaning whereby nurses facilitate healing. The nurse’s spiritual consciousness soothes worries and brings healing to others when they are in fear, pain, or suffering. Spiritual consciousness illuminates the universal need for humanization in nursing situations whereby dehumanizing circumstances deny or strip human beings of their dignity and humanity. Spiritual consciousness is the loving consciousness and healing energy that human beings tap into to restore harmony in times of disharmony.

Spiritual consciousness is evolved consciousness for nursing. It can be cultivated by nurses worldwide to facilitate healing. The nurse, in spiritual consciousness, being loving toward another during moments of the other’s suffering, brings healing energy to the situation. Spiritual consciousness is characterized by spaciousness and lightness. It provides a glimpse into the goodness and beauty of the universe, and the freedom not to get bogged down or trapped in mere physical and limiting aspects of being. I believe it is central to nursing’s healing mission. Thus, the notion of spiritual consciousness challenges each of us in nursing to experience this loving energy and to discuss it for better understanding the usefulness and limits of spiritual consciousness for facilitating healing. images

The human mind’s binding capacity can be warded off by shifting into spiritual consciousness. Spiritual consciousness does not include limited and bounded views such as hatred, sense of division, greed and power over others, malice, or separation between us, other human beings, earth, plants, animals, rocks, trees, rivers, stars, and the moon. In spiritual consciousness, we are all universal one.

As nurses gain experience sensing into their own spiritual consciousness, nursing will be better poised to meet its social mandate. Working from within spiritual consciousness, nurses are provided with multiple pathways for healings to occur. As nursing and society evolve, ideas related to spiritual consciousness and healing need further development.

The Legacy of Paulo Freire

For those who have followed this project for a while, you already are aware of the influence of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, whose book “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” has influenced not only this project, but the work of many of us involved with this project.  Recently I became aware of a number of YouTube videos about Freire and his work, some Freirein Portuguese, but many in English! Viewing them reminded me of the importance of returning again and again for inspiration that arises from these ideas — inspiration that keeps our gaze on what is possible and that overcomes the distress that comes from some of the discouraging events that surround us every day!  I will post one of the short videos below, but also want to be sure that everyone knows about the online “Paulo Freire Formation” course offered by the Freire Institute.  Here is a brief description of what this course is all about:

This is an in-depth online programme for activists, organizers and volunteers committed to social transformation. It provides training for those wanting to become more effective change agents. The six courses are taken online but with live input; those progressing to the next part of the programme will have the option to attend a 5-day ‘Intercultural Formation Meeting’. Courses can be taken flexibly according to your needs.

Freire wrote his “Pedagogy” book in the late ’60s, and it was published in English in 1971.  The importance of his ideas has only increased over time, and many important scholars and activists have continued to build on his work, including a number of feminist scholars including bell hooks.  Her book “Teaching to Transgress” contains a full chapter in which she examines Freire’s work and its lasting and significant contribution to feminist thought.

For me, Freire’s ideas have a close connection and deep meaning in terms of our ongoing exploration of what it means to care and to be cared for.  Freire, in his later years, talked more and more about the concept of love – particularly what he called “radical love” – which is quite similar to Margaret Newman’s ideas of love as the highest form of expanded consciousness.  Freire never wavered in his belief that real social change could become a reality, with the essential element of radical love – the coming together of all forms of love – as the underpinning for social change.

So watch this brief video to become more familiar with these ideas, and if you want more, just search for Paulo Freire on YouTube and/or Google, for more than a bit of inspiration!

Composing a Life Work: Why Creativity Matters in Nursing

The following is a guest blog by Jennifer (Jen) Reich PhD, MA, RN, NC-BC Nurse Coach, Poet, Storyteller. 

Once upon a time, I wrote a story called The Healer (2011). The premise of the story is a little boy from a difficult upbringing who encounters a magical being on his way to collect sea glass. He is collecting the glass to make a mosaic for his mother. With the help of his friend, he collects enough to make one for his school as well. He grows up to be an artist, creating mosaics for his community, nursing homes, and hospitals. When he is an old man, he meets his magical friend once more. She tells him he has been a great healer and will be welcomed into her tribe. At first he doesn’t understand. She explains that since he has followed his passion and created his mosaics with love, his art has brought great healing. Love, she tells him, is always healing.

I have written poetry and stories for as long as I can remember. Often I think in poetry, and it has always been a way to help me process information and feelings, to find my voice. I started playing the trombone in elementary school and music became another outlet for me. However, it wasn’t until I began working as a psychiatric tech in nursing school that I discovered how powerful the arts were to help those suffering give voice to their experience. I also realized how important poetry and writing were for me to give voice to my own experience as student nurse and tech.

As a new nurse, I learned from mentors that though a cure is not always possible, there is always potential for healing (Dossey, 2013). Most nurses have experienced the death of a patient or client and know it is part of their work. So how do nurses cope with these sorrows? Some use self-reflection and self-care strategies while others may engage in self-negating behaviors as a way to manage their stress and pain. Sometimes, it’s a little of both. The Nurse Manifest Document Introduction (1a, 2009) states: “We call forth the written and spoken voice of nursing to be claimed and reclaimed. We seek to inspire the fullest expression of the heart of nursing through individual and collective acts. We believe there are profound possibilities in claiming our individual and professional sovereignty.” As caring professionals, nurses need to have creative outlets not only to cope and de-stress, but perhaps most importantly, to find our individual and collective voice.

Very recently, we saw an excellent example of nurses claiming their voices. It began with an instance of nurse blaming in the Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola. In the case of both nurses, before the whole story was out, fault was transferred to them (Goodwin, 2014). However, colleagues in nursing would not allow this to go unnoticed and without consequence. Nurses from organizations such as National Nurses United, stood together collectively to voice their opposition and support their sisters in nursing. Petitions were generated and spread through media outlets. Individual nurses shared their personal and professional experiences through stories shared on blogs and Facebook and Twitter feeds across the Internet. These stories went beyond the nursing community and to the public where the compassion and professionalism of nurses could be seen and heard.

Despite this inspiring display of community and support, we still hear old adages such as “Nurses Eat their Young,” or concerns that nurses are the worst when it comes to taking care of themselves. Remember in The Healer story the boy learned that engaging in his work with great love and passion brought healing to others. When we don’t take time to care for our mind, body and spirit we deny ourselves the balance and harmony we seek for our students or those in our care. Creativity is a path to touching and bringing forth the inner knowing and wisdom to what we best need to reignite our passion. For example, when I do creative self-care workshops, participants will often tell me they haven’t painted, written stories or poems, or danced since before they were in nursing school, or even as far back as childhood. Having this creative release often gives them the courage to voice what has been long held within. There is very little teaching involved on my part, they already know how to be creative. My role is to provide encouragement and help them surrender to the creative process without judgment and/or critique.

There are journals dedicated to evidence-based research on the healing effects of the creative arts in patient/client populations. Music and arts-based therapists do amazing work with arts-based interventions in individuals, groups, and communities. However, there is limited research on why creativity is necessary for the wellbeing of nurses and healthcare professionals. Further, we often don’t often reflect on how the creative arts enhance our nursing practice. One example I share is from a hospice patient I met years ago. He had been a sax player and jazz musician. We spent a little time before each assessment chatting about jazz. I was able to have a volunteer get him a CD player to listen to his music. There was a reciprocal healing process as our connection through music contributed to a sense of greater well-being on both of our parts. In addition, it opened up space for me to understand his concerns and care needs.

When we are engaged in the creative process, we are fully present. This, in turn, teaches us presence. We are so longing for presence in this world. Though more and more coffee shops pop up, most of them have a drive-thru with lines wrapping around the building. We have bigger banks and lenders, and more often than not, we aren’t able to talk to a real person. We cannot explain to an automated system that the reason we missed a bill payment for example, is that we were caring for a sick parent or child. We need creative soul-utions, not just automated systems in our daily lives, and we need these in nursing and healthcare.

I had the privilege of interviewing 13 experienced RN’s on the concept of ‘story’ as part of my dissertation work. When I sent out my recruitment flyer, I received responses immediately and could not interview everyone interested. I realized from this experience that nurses want to be heard! We need to create more spaces to share our stories, to make art together, write poems, listen to music, to dance. Whether our nursing work is on the front lines in direct care, or as teachers, coaches and/or advocates, we must reignite our love for our calling and create individually and collectively a new paradigm for healing. For though there is no cure for all of the problems facing our healthcare system and the world, when we give voice to our life and work though creativity, healing is always possible~


Cowling, W. R., Chinn, P. L., & Hagedorn, S,. (2000). A Nursing Manifesto: A Call to Conscience and Action. Retrieved: https://nursemanifest.com/a-nursing-manifesto-a-call-to-conscience-and-action/manifesto-with-markers-for-citation/

Dossey, B.M. (2013) In B.M. Dossey & L. Keegan (Eds.) C. Barrere & M. Blaszko Helming (Assc Eds.) Holistic nursing: A handbook for practice (6th ed) (pp. 247 – 260). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers

Goodwin, W. (October 24, 2014). Was CDC Too Quick To Blame Dallas Nurses In Care Of Ebola Patient? National Public Radio (NPR) Retrieved: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/24/358574357/was-cdc-too-quick-to-blame-dallas-nurses-in-care-of-ebola-patient

Reich, J. (2011). The Healer. Retrieved: http://poetry-not-poverty.blogspot.com/2011/11/november-story-healer.html

Jennifer Reich PhD, MA, RN, NC-BC is a nurse coach, poet, and storyteller. She received her PhD in Nursing from The University of Arizona in 2011 and is adjunct faculty in the College of Nursing.  In addition to nursing, her background also includes degrees in Exercise Science:(Gerontology Specialization) and English/Theatre (minor) and training and practice in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Reiki, Health Appraisal and Meditation. She has incorporated these diverse experiences to design wellness programs and teach self-care strategies to nurses and caregivers throughout the country.

You can find Jen @ https://www.facebook.com/Jenreichpoetry  and  www.poetry-not-poverty.blogspot.com. Jen wishes to thank Jackie Levin RN, MS, AHN-BC, CHTP for her review of the blog.


New! Emancipatory Nursing text just published!

Indeed, for the first time ever, we have a text that is devoted to what we have named “emancipatory nursing!”  The “we” I refer to are the 3 editors of this text – Paula Kagan, Marlaine Smith, and me (Peggy Chinn). The text is titled “Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis.” The text is published by Routledge in their series Emancipatory text“Routledge Studies in Health and Social Welfare” and is available from the publisher, as well as on Amazon (both hard cover and Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (both hard cover and Nook).  The price is a bit daunting, but the publisher is offering a 20% discount code with the attached flyer!  If you are associated with a library, let your librarian know about this book so they can add it to their collection!

The contributors to this text are among the most prolific and renowned critical scholars in nursing, and the chapters that they wrote for this book are original works that have not appeared anywhere else in the literature.  For some, they have created entirely new perspectives and ideas that reflect current insights and accomplishments.  Others build on their previous work, but extend their thinking into new territory. The book begins with a forward by Joan Anderson and an Introduction by Paula, Marlaine and me in which we define the fundamental concepts of emancipatory nursing that emerged from our own work as well as the insights of the book’s contributors.  The first Section focuses on philosophy and theory underlying emancipatory nursing, followed by Sections on research, teaching and practice.

As one the book’s editors and a huge fan of the writings that appear here, I am not in a position to provide a qualitative review of the book that might be considered “objective.”  But I can offer my own “subjective” related to this book! The experience of reading each and every chapter, from the first drafts through the final revisions based on editorial reviews, was one of the most challenging and inspiring experiences of my career.  Throughout the process I kept wishing that what I was reading was already published and available!  Now that these works are in fact in print and available, I hope you will have the opportunity to share this experience!  When you do, please return here and offer your comments and responses!  We will make sure that any author you wish to respond to sees your comments and has a chance to respond!