Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Just like yoga, Holistic Nursing is a way of being, a way of living and a way of practice.
Holistic nurses are legally licensed nurses who use nursing knowledge, theories, expertise and intuition to recognize and care for the whole person.
This is in contrast to allopathic medicine, which perhaps has become so highly specialized that the whole becomes less than the sum of its parts. For example, in the field of cardiology today,if you have a heart problem you may be referred to an electrophysiologist, cardio-thoracic surgeon, interventional cardiologist, a heart failure specialist, or, a heart transplant surgeon. And as the needed therapies take their toll, and/or the disease process advances, you may also need a nephrologist, a hematologist, a gastroenterologist, and a neurologist. Holistic nurses attend to the whole person, not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
Holistic nurses nurture wholeness, peace and healing by valuing each person's physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental strengths and challenges and honoring each person’s values, health beliefs and health experience. The condition of the whole person is taken into account during the nurse's assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention and evaluation of the results. Holistic nurses use holistic principles and modalities in their daily life and in clinical practice to remove the barriers to the healing process and create a space within and around themselves that allow them to be instruments of healing as they share their authenticity, caring presence and nursing skills to facilitate the birth, growth, recovery or end-of-life transition with all people who need their care. Holistic nurses work in all healthcare settings including hospitals, universities and private practices.
They understand and value the importance of self-care. Practice begins by modeling a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness. In this way, healthy behaviors are modeled for others. Holistic nurses are an extremely valuable commodity in our stressful healthcare environment.
Just like Holistic Nursing, yoga is a way of being, a way of living and a way of practice.
The physical disciplines of yoga -- asana and pranayama, have kept me physically fit so that after 39 years of practice, I am able to continue to work two twelve hour night shifts a week in a progressive care unit. Even more importantly is the spiritual practice of Karma Yoga.
Karma Yoga is described as action without attachment to reward. Right action is considered a form of prayer. According to Ram Dass, Karma Yoga is using your Karma as a way of coming into union with God.
Karma Yoga is the taking of the things you do every day with other people, of service, things like that, and making those all into an offering. And so it’s an attitude that one has. It’s an attitude of offering, and it’s an attitude of seeing how the actions you are performing mean so much more.
Karma Yoga (the yoga of action) and Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion) go together. Karma Yoga really says that you serve others as a way of serving God. You serve others as a way of putting flowers at the feet of God, of honoring God.
I was introduced to these concepts in the mid 1980s. I started a formal practice of yoga in 1981 -- the same year I entered Touro Infirmary School of Nursing in New Orleans, LA, one of the the last diploma RN programs in the United States. By 1986, I received my BSN from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, and was working in the Coronary Care Unit at West Florida Regional Medical Center. I took a comparative religion class at the university and attended a weekly course on the Bhagavad Gita. It was then that I began to understand that right action is simply doing my best in each situation handed to me. The outcome -- whether the patient lives or dies -- is not up to me. I believe that is the single most important realization as far as understanding my place in the the wholeness of things. It has helped me cope with the loss that is seen and felt over a long career which included almost three decades in critical care and emergency trauma nursing.