The nursing revolution will not be televised: Part III, the work of consciousness evolution

If you are following these postings, you may have begun to wonder, ” well how can I, an everyday nurse, take on the enormity of changing myself; I have always been this way, these are engrained patterns, and I don’t know how to change”. I have outlined a few steps here, though the reader is encouraged to also discover their own healing path.

I. Start looking at the basics of your human needs.

Most nurses have some exposure to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and the more we learn about psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the more we know the importance of  laying the foundation of good health behaviors in order to achieve “self-actualization” or consciousness evolution; we can also use this model to begin to visualize that as we move toward your own growth, healing, and self-actualization experiences, we can then prepare to support others (ie our patients and our colleagues) to do the same. From a PNI perspective, if the base of the hierarchy is not addressed, we will be in a physiological chronically stressed state, leading to not only feeling bad and functioning poorly, but also toward an inflammation state and a genetic-chromosomal expression that leads to illness and disease.

Many nurses need to start with attending to the basic physiological needs. As research has shown that most nurses get an average of only 6 hours of sleep before any given shift, for many nurses, this will be the way to begin: first, learn to honor your sleep in order to best care for your own PNI and set the stage for consciousness evolution. Additionally, with erratic schedules and nurses’ long 12 hour shifts, diet and exercise habits that are proven to support a strong PNI, personal stress resilience, and consciousness evolution, may be missing and this useful information is never readily available for the people in need.

As one begins to build a strong physiological basis for themselves, they are better prepared to address the safety needs stage of Maslow’s hierarchy: I believe this is of great importance to nurses, because on a daily basis, our safety issues and boundaries are pushed by our patients, patients’ family members, colleagues, and administrators alike. However, if we don not have our own basic physiological needs met, we may not progress toward addressing our safety needs and moving into a space where work group relations can be addressed and managed.

Nurses may choose to work with a wellness counselor, support group, or health-nurse coach to begin to manage and create a healthy lifestyle. We need to recognize that these habits are hard to create, but with continued support, we can create lasting healthy lifestyle behaviors.

II. Look to the Literature: Self-help and self-care tools abound

In the curriculum I have enacted in the RN- BSN program I have developed, it has become clear that nurses need specific tools to undertake the self-care and healing journey. Luckily, one does not have to look far to find these tools. Some recommendations I feel comfortable making to nurses, educators, student nurses , and whole groups of nurses looking to share this work together include:

Cheryl Richardson’s (2012) The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time. In this book, individuals and/ or groups can work together to reflect and create real change in their lives. This particular book walks the reader through affirmations, to creating healing space, and learning to set limits with the “absolute no” process.

Another great work to support nurse’s on their healing journey and consciousness evolution process is Joan Borysenko’s (2012) Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. In this book, Dr. Borysenko, a pioneer in the research that emerged from Harvard’s Mind Body Institute, shares her own burn out scenarios and a step-by-step reflective process to help readers revive by examining their childhood roots of burnout, personality traits that may predispose us to burnout, and the revival process needed to move beyond burnout.

Creating work groups or informal groups that can share this healing process may be helpful, though certainly one can also work through this process on their own.

For those looking for what I might call a deeper journey toward the state of evolutionary consciousness a text entitled Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening (2008, Ken Wilber et al) may prove to be a challenging and useful endeavor. This book walks one through the lived process of addressing psychological shadow issues, while also focusing on the mind-body-spirit processes needed to support evolutionary consciousness growth.

III. Seek out counseling

As most nurses know, we want to support the healing of others through caring, which is the heart of nursing practice. But if this task becomes one of control and co-dependence, our workplaces may even morph into lateral violence as we reenact the patterns of our dysfunctional family’s and painful childhood experiences. Through work with the right counselor, we may find that we are able to identify these patterns, observe them, heal them, accept them, and detach from them as we create new ways of being. At this juncture, we then create new patterns for coping. Additionally, tools such as EMDR can help one to create new neural pathways of peace and well-being to attend to when life is stressful, rather than continuing to enter into old habits of fight or flight ad the ensuing dysfunctional behaviors that tend to dictate our reactions in unhealthy manners.

IV. Evolve your consciousness: The ancient tools

For many centuries, people have searched for ways to relief their suffering and find ways to grow spiritually and evolve their consciousness. We are only now coming to the point where we can link these endeavors to the PNI response; organizations such as the Harvard’s Benson- Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and the Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and The Institute of Noetic Sciences have taken the lead in this area.
Working toward mindfulness, using tools such as meditation and yoga help us to evolve our consciousness toward higher states and recognize our unity with others and the universe at large. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on  purpose, in a present way, while remaining non-judgmental and non-evaluative toward both the inner and outer environments. The video below from UCSF’s Osher Center provides a clear background on this process which directly relates to managing stress and evolving.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences around this process of personal consciousness evolution and the power it may have to transform our lives and realize our healing-caring nursing practices.

The (nursing) revolution will not be televised: Part II

“If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up exactly where we are headed”- Chinese Proverb.

In one of my previous postings, I mentioned that the nursing revolution would not be televised; in other words, our own revolution begins with an evolution of consciousness about nursing and our practices. I do believe, just as our esteemed nursing theorists Jean Watson has stated time and again, that caring is the essence of nursing practice, and yet we have continued as nurses to generally practice in institutions and organizations that do not know how to value and support the caring- healing capacities of nurses, despite the fact that our patients make clear time and again are of the utmost importance along their healing journey.

We are each, as individuals and nurses, in need of awakening to our own personal path of caring and healing. If we are to be able to share caring and healing with others on a meaningful basis, we have to be on a caring-healing journey for ourselves individually and collectively.

In order to create change in our profession and move toward greater acceptance of caring-healing nursing practices, the change needs to come from within each of us. I have some students who state things along the lines of, “What is the use? I can change myself and yet this will not effect the institution where I work”. And this is where they are wrong. I have seen time and again nurses who move toward changing their consciousness and engaging in their own self-care and healing endeavors, and they then go on to create meaningful changes in their lives and their practices. Others find the courage and strength through self-reflective practices  and increasing stress resilience to realize that they are serving a dysfunctional system and they opt to leave their place of employment. By increasing our personal stress resilience and creating new brain pathways, we can open up to creative solutions to workplace problems and we can walk into our own issues instead of running from them or remaining stagnant.

Stress resilience helps us to create a personal revolution toward peace, ease, and well being. The following is a video by Joan Boryenseko on transformational experiences of healing, awakening, and consciousness evolution. Here she walks into the process of witnessing our emotions and the process of witnessing, forgiveness, and grief.

As we undertake the revolutionary steps of transformation to change our personal and nursing consciousness toward peace, we will notice a reduction in aggression and an increase in compassion, caring, love, and tolerance- the qualities needed to support the creation of healing environments in our healthcare systems and facilities. As our personal and professional consciousness evolves and shifts, we begin to move toward a better understanding of the unity of all human beings and species and even to the larger cosmos.

So what prevents us from taking the steps toward personal and professional revolution through consciousness transformation? Below is a video by Eckhart Tolle that briefly described the movement toward consciousness transformation and moving beyond fear.

I am open to hearing your thoughts here and in the next installation, I will present ideas on the steps toward walking into peaceful revolution and transformation in part III.

The (nursing) revolution will not be televised: Part I

Nursing is in need of a revolution. A revolution of thought and a revolution of how nursing is learned and practiced. Now seems to be a “good” chaotic moment in time and history for the revolution to begin and perhaps to expand: as our healthcare systems become less well funded, less well-staffed, and as more and more of the population (in theory) begins to seek healthcare due to “Affordable Care Act”, the stage for change and growth have been set. I do predict that some major changes are ahead for nurses and our roles in healthcare, and if we as a profession and as individuals do not create our own revolution in nursing, the revolution will be dictated to us by others.

Dovetailing on my last post about nursing and the media, I feel confident in stating that the nursing revolution will not be televised. The following is video-recording of Gil Scott Heron’s work on the revolution not being televised:

What Gil Scott Heron really meant he explains here:

We as nurses can learn a great deal from this song and the revolution of the civil rights movement to begin to plan how we each can and must forge a plan to change our minds, our consciousness, to move toward the right page, and find the right note as Mr. Heron encourages us to do. Each of us has within us the power to create the environment and practices of nursing that best serve our patients, our colleagues, and ourselves on this human journey of life, healing, and love.

And it begins within; we cannot televise the changes in our consciousness that we create, but we can begin our own efforts focused on healing and creating stress resilience practices that support us in moving toward others, instead of remaining in fight-or- flight mode and running from ourselves and others. We can each create a personal brain bio-psycho-neuro-immunological (mind-body-spirit) revolution movement that can change the face of healthcare as we empower ourselves and others toward healing and supporting our evolution of consciousness personally and professionally.

In future postings, I will discuss a bit more about how this is possible and the amazing tools that we have at our disposal to make this revolution a reality.