People often ask: What is the difference between religion and spirituality?
In a recent Caritas Challenge to her nurse leader colleagues, Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, RN, FAAN, reminded us that religion is a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. Spirituality is more of an individual practice – what we do to fill ourselves with a sense of peace and purpose.
Spirituality is creating a quiet space for us to notice our internal dialogue. It also relates to the process of embracing the unique meaning of our lives and our connection with others. These practices rejuvenate our well-being, ensuring that we bring our best selves to our patients, communities and colleagues.
There are many ways that we can cultivate these practices, including meditation. Meditation contributes to growth in sense of self and reduces stress. It allows us to tap into inner knowing, a practice that advances “self science.” By quieting our minds, we can tap into our core values and bring intentionality to our work.
Our Professional Practice Model calls us to bring caring and inclusive intentions to our work every day. It is the practice of intentionality that genuinely allows us to cultivate an authentic presence with our patients and colleagues.
Developing our own spiritual practices is one way to sustain our own positive energy, which infuses the environment within which we practice. The interconnection between person and environment began with Nightingale and her vision for our practice, uniting mind, body and spirit when caring for ourselves and those we serve.
To quote Jean Watson PhD, RN, FAAN, founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute: “May you, too, walk in your own power, your own light and your own beauty, and pass it on…radiating caring, healing and peace to greet the new world.”
Thank you for all that you do to advance caring in our world.
Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services