Meditation for Nurses, A Natural Evolution for Nursing
While this week’s post is directed towards nurses and healthcare professionals, I encourage all of my readers to have a look. Since healthcare and its practitioners can impact all of us at some point in our lives, it’s important to know what nursing is doing about showing up at the bedside, mindful and compassionate. Enjoy!
Since starting in nursing over three decades ago, I’ve seen the profession evolve in a number of important ways. I’ve seen nurses gain recognition through involvement in professional organizations, I’ve seen the creation of the Magnet Recognition Program for hospitals that support nursing excellence, and I’ve even seen a modest gain in nursing pay proportional to the immense responsibilities and jobs that we do.
What still distresses me though is how little we as nurses, personally and professionally, have advanced an evolution of mind that bears its fruit both in the workplace as well as in life in our lives in general. I believe that this is about to change…and I’m here to help in that change.
In previous posts, I’ve shared why I think that nurses need to meditate. I’ve also shared why I believe that a legion of meditating nurses can change the world. What I haven’t shared, and what I’ll share here, is why I believe – with all my heart – that meditation is a natural evolution in the world of nursing.
(The title of this section, “Meditation and Compassion Go Together,” is actually a link. Check it out.)
Before we get into how the evolution of nursing involves meditative and contemplative practices, let’s spend a short time discussing meditation and compassion.
While there are many schools of meditation and hundreds, if not thousands, of contemplative techniques and methods, the connection that I like to share is the one between meditation and compassion.
What I’ve found is that as you begin to meditate, you reconnect to a place where you also find compassion for those around you. How is this compassion discovered? And how does it differ from the compassion that you probably bring to your work anyway?
The compassion that arises from the state of meditation comes from a realization that you and those around you are not so different. Not only do we share similar challenges in the difficult thoughts and emotions that can arise within our minds, we also all have the potential to find an inherent peace that always exists behind the backdrop of our confusion. The difference is that you, as a meditator, have the skills to work with your mind.
The similarity that a meditator and non-meditator have in terms of a meditator’s ability to deal with mental challenges and a non-meditator being a victim to these arisings, are similar to the situation that nurses experience between themselves and their patients when we realize that we’re all the same, it’s just that our patients are suffering due to their illness while we’re not suffering due to our (temporary) good state of health.
When we begin to meditate, we may find that the lack of compassion we have for our distracted and preoccupied mind can sabotage all of our best efforts to meditate. It’s only when we develop compassion for ourselves in these challenging moments that we learn not only how to meditate, but how to be truly compassionate, with ourselves and with others.
The peace and well-being that you search for, as a nurse and as a human being, is no different than the peace and well-being that your patients desire. As you learn to meditate, finding an inner stability regardless of your circumstances, you’ll naturally wish this same peace for others. You begin to see others’ suffering, compassionately, as the same kind of mental suffering that you encounter when you’re mind isn’t at rest. You wish, compassionately, for them the same peace-of-mind that you experience when you meditate.
Meditation is About Evolving as a Human Being
There is not one area in my life that hasn’t been changed by my practice of meditation!
Having learned to work with the wild thoughts and emotions that occur within my mind, I’ve become a better human. In fact, I’m more of the human who I’m meant to be! And that human being (being humane) transforms how I am with my family, with my friends, with those I meet in the supermarket, and…at work.
Evolving through the use of meditation means that you can apply your meditative awareness to anything in your life, whether that’s caring for a patient at the bedside, or peddling a bicycle up a steep hill-climb. It works globally within your life!
Evolving as a Nurse Means Evolving as a Human Being
Too often in life, we can create different “selves”; we’re one person at work, another with our children, and a completely different person when we’re out with friends. This kind of fragmentation of the self results in us not evolving as a human being but just as a nurse, or parent, or friend, or…whatever.
In my view, it doesn’t work to try to just evolve professionally as a nurse if you aren’t also changing in how you greet your family and friends. What good is it to be compassionate at the bedside if you’re a raving lunatic while driving in traffic, a nutcase when dealing with a difficult co-worker, or a nightmare when dealing with your spouse or partner? Does it really matter that you’ve evolved as a nurse if you haven’t evolved as a person?
What does it mean to evolve as a nurse? None other than evolving, growing and changing in “who you are” as a person.
So, evolving as a nurse may include changing how you practice your nursing. And it may mean changing how you show up in your work environment. But if you change how you work with your mind, which is at the root of how who you are, then everything else will come easier, with more grace, more peace, and more awareness. Try it! This life-changing-evolution is what meditation offers you personally and professionally when you make the commitment to do it.
The funny thing about the change that occurs when you learn to meditate is that you’re not really becoming anyone different; you’re actually becoming more of who you truly are anyway!
Meditation reveals to you a “self” that exists all the time, regardless of how you’re feeling, or even what you’re thinking. The process of learning to meditate is about becoming undistracted and aware enough to recognize that self!
So, when you meditate, just be natural. Be who you are. Meditation isn’t about trying to be anyone other than your natural self. As a nurse. As a parent. As a partner or spouse. As a human!
Evolving as a nurse is really the same, it’s about being who you really are, getting to know yourself, your strengths, your passions, and your gifts, and bringing them to your profession. When you learn to meditate, the
How To Meditate
Maybe you’ve already got a meditation practice. If that’s the case, great! Keep it up. And feel free to use all of the content from this site to support you in your efforts. If you haven’t started to meditate, begin now.
Many people don’t meditate because they believe that they need to do “something special” in order to meditate, maybe you’re one of them. “Doing something” special isn’t the case. All you need is your breath, and a few minutes of time set aside to begin your practice. Here are some tools to get you started:
- Meditation audio for using your breath as the anchor of your attention during meditation.
- Ebook and two chapters from the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, on how to meditate.
- Here’s a pitch for my book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind. You can even buy it in a Kindle version! Why buy it? Because I really did write it for you. Because it’s a meditation book written just for nurses. And, because it has EVERYTHING that you need to learn how to meditate and to use your practice at the bedside.
This site has tons of tools for learning how to meditate and be compassionate.
I encourage you to look through the HUNDREDS of articles that I’ve written and especially check out my weekly meditation tips and other useful meditation materials provided for your health and well being. And please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything with me, have any questions or need clarification regarding anything that I’ve written about.
Thanks for visiting and have a mindful day.