Bringing Healing Circles to Nurses


When I speak about Harmony Hill and the Nurse Leadership for Healing Circles (NLHC) group that we have recently formed, I often start with Grace, Grit, and Gratitude—and more recently a fourth G: Gusto. In this time of great chaos and challenge in our country and the world, it is so refreshing and inspiring to be collaborating with Commonweal, Healing Circles Langley, and other healing circles centers to stay grounded in the spirit of healing offered via The Circle Way.

All these “G” words (especially Gusto) resonate with my new favorite word which is Ikigai (pronounced eye-ka-guy), which means our reason for being. It’s a Japanese word used in “Blue Zones,” places around the world (for example Okinawa) where people often live with good health into their 90s or even 100s. Components of Ikigai  are nutrition, exercise, significant community support, and finding meaning and purpose. Ikigai is often a mixture of that which you love to do, are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for (which may be in money or feelings of well-being).

When I retired as executive director of Harmony Hill, I wandered a bit and realized I really wanted to continue to support it. I felt called to  find “new tires for new paths.“ Or to “re-fire” as AARP frames retirement. So, I went to New York city with a close nurse colleague, Dianna Blom, three times to take a year-long program to become an integrative nurse coach (INC). That program is now offered at Harmony Hill. Dianna and I have become associate faculty members for the program, which attracts amazing nurses from all across the country. Seeking a renewed Ikigai is a major reason nurses come to this program, and it has been my joy to witness amazing personal/professional life changes that often occur, many times in nurses who felt burned out and ready to leave the field. Recently, I shared stories at a nursing continuing education program of innovative clinical practices that have evolved as these nurses become integrative coaches. For example, there is a coach in North Pole, Alaska, who is now working with dentists and their patients to teach them healthier lifestyles, one on Bainbridge Island who uses Nia (a type of dance) as she works with frightened new mothers, and another, an oncology nurse, who is buying a horse ranch near Bellingham to start the Green Labyrinth retreat center for the healing of grief.

One of my personal special favorite Ikigai is the Nurse Leadership for Healing Circles team—all integrative nurse coaches. This is a group that has come together thanks to an invitation from Michael Lerner, founder and president of Commonweal, for me to join him in finding a path for nurses to become healing circles facilitators. We have been blessed with support from Harmony Hill and Healing Circles Langley, with tremendous mentoring by Diana Lindsay and her wonderful team, which includes Kelly, Susanne, and many members of their Circle of Hearts. Seven nurse leaders have joined me and are on fire with enthusiasm about exploring the development of a continuing nursing education course that will be piloted this fall at Harmony Hill. We attended a two-day training at Healing Circles Langley in January and were deeply inspired by their work and the history of their connection with The Circle Way via Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea.

Our Vision: To advance the unique contribution of nursing to the global movement of healing circles.

Mission: To create opportunities for nurses and nurse coaches to integrate healing circles into their practices.

Purpose: To enhance the competence, confidence, and compassion needed for the promotion of healing circles.

We’re in the process of developing a pilot continuing nursing education course that will take place at Harmony Hill October 3, 2018. We all feel much Grace, Grit, Gratitude, and Gusto as we create this program in collaboration with extraordinary centers of healing. In closing, I want to share a favorite reflection on Grace by Ann Lamont:

I do not at all understand the mystery of Grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.