Meet Jan Landry and Tree Dunbar, co-directors of the Sacred Art of Nursing
Despite their youthful appearances, Jan and Tree each have over thirty years of nursing experience, specializing in hospice and end of life care. Jan teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in a variety of settings.
Here's what they had to say about what they love most about nursing? "Nursing provides an opportunity to be intimate with the mystery of life and death. As nurses, we bear witness to the fragility and preciousness of life, and have an opportunity to recognize and embrace our shared humanity. Nursing for us is a sacred art that weaves together science, clinical skills, intuition, and experience, into a compassionate wisdom."
Like Jan and Tree, I have had the privilege of working with the dying both as a nurse and a hospice volunteer. These days, I currently work as an obstetric nurse, helping babies take their first breaths, as opposed to being with those taking their last breaths. Some of my most memorable experiences were working with patients and their families through the dying process. We live in a culture that supports youth and does not welcome death as a norm. Yet these women have loved their work with the dying. This is why....
"Working with people at the end of life is deeply rewarding. Hospice nursing provides an opportunity to be present with patients and families in a vulnerable, intimate, and real way while bringing clinical expertise to ensure comfort and dignity. The gift of being a midwife and guide at the end of life and coming face to face with death on a daily basis, offers a mirror that impacts our own awareness and choices."
Patient experiences like this one, have touched their hearts...
"Many years ago we cared for an artist on our hospice unit. He found inspiration, meaning, and comfort in his art, which was an expression of his love and his spiritual path. It was his refuge. As his illness progressed, his capacities and energy were greatly diminished; he lacked the energy to engage in creating art. This was just one of the many losses he endured as death approached."
"When he was asked, what brings him meaning and comfort now, since he no longer had the refuge of his art, he replied quite simply, “My illness is my monastery.” His ability to fully embrace his illness and his dying continues to inspire us to open our hearts to what is before us, and to embrace our lives fully."
If you are looking to explore mindfulness in a beautiful setting with these knowledgable women, they are offering a weekend retreat May 2-4 in Northern California. You can learn how mindfulness benefits both you as the nurse and your patients.
The practice of mindfulness can cultivate increased awareness and presence in daily interactions with patients and colleagues, as well as inner resources to meet the challenges and complexities in health care. A mindful approach to nursing includes tools to prevent compassion fatigue while providing compassionate care to alleviate the suffering of others.