Take a moment to cultivate embodied gratitude to mark National Nurses Week.
Nurses help those who are sick or injured, they hold the hands of others as their life ends or offer solace to those pained by loss. To mark National Nurses Week, Cynda Hylton Rushton calls on nurses to pause for a moment to honor their hands—and to acknowledge the joys, sorrows, disappointments, fears, and triumphs in their professional lives.
A Guided Meditation for Nurses: Honoring Your Hands
- Taking a moment to pause, allow your body to relax, your breath to be easy and natural, and your mind to settle.
- Notice how you are in this moment—not pushing anything away but being with whatever is true right now.
- Now, hold one hand with the other—clasping both hands with a gentle embrace. As you do this, notice the places where your hands connect and where your fingers intertwine.
- Notice the temperature of your skin as your hands touch each other. Is it warm or cool or moist or something else? Notice the texture of hands—the places that are smooth or calloused or scarred. Feel the strength in your hands as they clasp each other. These hands have served so many in the last two years. Patients, families, colleagues, leaders, and the whole world.
- These hands have investigated the bodies of those who are sick or injured. They have guided the placement of lines, tubes, and devices.
They have managed equipment and drips and technology moment after moment, day after day.
They have been covered with gloves to protect our patients and ourselves. They have become chapped from washing them over and over again.
These hands have greeted patients, families, and colleagues.
They have held the hands of others as their life ended and offered solace to those who remained.
These hands have paused to offer love, care, and compassion.
These hands have courageously met the challenges each moment demanded.
These hands have been weary, anxious, fearful, and angry
- There have been times when it seemed they could no longer serve. And yet these hands have been a constant and faithful companion through the dark times and the triumphs.
- For just a moment, pause as you clasp your hands together to remember why you are here. What brought you to this path of service? What motivates you to return day after day?
- Pause to recall a moment when your hands made a difference to another being. It might be a moment of recognizing that a patient’s condition was worsening. It might be using them to attempt CPR on a dying patient, a moment when your hands brought hope or support, or when you offered an encouraging touch. A moment when they supported you to stay, when you wanted to leave.
- As you hold both your hands together, you bring together the joys, the sorrows, the disappointments, the fears, and the triumphs that you have carried during this pandemic.
- Take a moment to send gratitude to your hands for how they have served you and so many others. As you do, see if you can receive gratitude, love, and care for all you have carried—from all who are known, unknown, and those who will never be forgotten.
Honoring Nurse’s Hands as a Gateway to Service © 2022 C. Rushton, by Cynda Hylton Rushton PhD, RN, FAAN, Anne & George Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics & Nursing, Johns Hopkins University.
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