My first introductions to mind/body medicine, were reading Ram Dass’ Be Here Now and Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response when they first came out. From 1972-77, I studied and became a meditation teacher with Ram Dass’ encouragement. In 1975 I also began a career working in hospitals including forty years as a Nurse Clinician at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. There I helped create a no charge patient consultation service teaching stress management and self-relaxation skills in their hospital rooms; applying the wisdom gained from ongoing study with Ram Dass and the teachers & guides he had introduced me to. At Duke, as well as patient education, I was able to participate in cutting edge mind/body research and also I helped create the Duke Integrative Medicine Program facilitating the introduction of Ralph Snyderman MD and Jon Kabot-Zinn PhD.
Mike McLeod MD a wonderful person and gastroenterologist at Duke University Hospital, taught in Duke Medical School’s Integrative Medicine Program about the the mind-body connection through the psycho-neural-endocrine-immunology systems. Ultimately all the body systems are interconnected and interrelated. This was wonderful knowledge because I already had a strong belief in mind/body medicine, and by being at Duke, I learned that science validated my approaches, and gave me greater confidence as i moved through hospital seeing 7 or more patients a day.
However over the years, many people, who understood the financial pressures of the health care industry, have often wondered about how my hospital role could work financially, a holistic nurse specialist well paid and not charging? A wise supervisor let me know his assessment. He said: Jon if it was just that you made the patient’s feel good, that would be wonderful, but you wouldn’t have a job at Duke. You help the staff do their job, that is why you have a job.
Imagine you are the night nurse putting in a consult for your cardio thoracic patient who has been having a lot of anxiety getting up and walking. He or she might need a lot of nursing supervision, problem solving and supervision. I see the patient the next day. The next night he is resting and sleeping much better, and starting to make improvements independently walking and moving about. My consult helped this patient and helped the nurse too.
When i first met a patient I described the science of stress, and at the end of the session a simple, effective, non threatening relaxation technique. I was asked by Duke Human Relations to make short videos so the staff could benefit as well. They are on here.
After I briefly shared about the science of stress, I asked the patient how things have been going for them. In the video on this page above, i describe my listening approach as people shared about the health problems, losses, uncertainties, past trauma, and other challenges in life.
I taught stress management, mantra and mindfulness practices to promote evidenced based mind/body, pain and stress management to give people ways to help themselves. For years i did about two Healing Touch sessions a day in the patients hospital rooms. Mostly with oncology patients. Also to promote healing even at the end of life, Ram Dass introduced me to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Stephen Levine so i joined their team of fore-runners of the Palliative Care and Hospice movements so prevalent in hospitals and communities around the country today. Healing for me, simply means improving quality of life, and/or improving physical functioning. I gave a booklet to people for more learning. Here is an award-winning edition, “A Guide for Coping with Health Problems and Stress.”
In 2018 I retired from working in hospitals, I ended up moving to Ojai, California. In 2020, the Covid Pandemic has hit. In some ways, my work with people with almost every kind of illness in the hospital and my time and study with Ram Dass has prepared me well for this. My time now is spent relishing and deepening through Ram Dass’ teachings of contentment through being here now with loving awareness.
As 2020 unfolds, I am open to sharing more of the wisdom gained from my long and very unique career in a time in life that is stressful for everyone. This melding of my 6 previous websites into one is a start.
Now I wonder what workshops, online teachings, or one-on-one sessions i can offer? How can i carry forward, Ram Dass’ message of Be Here Now with Loving Awareness. Sitaram Dass in Northern California and Mary Jo Healy in Ojai, were planning, “Wise Dying, Wise Living” workshops with me, that have been postponed for now.
If you would like to learn more, check out my audio meditations or my blog. If you need specific support, would like to host a presentation, or if you have other ideas. Please reach out to me, reach out