Ecospirituality: A pattern that connects
"Ecospirituality can be viewed as a pattern that is both a process as well as a manifestation of the human field in relationship with the environmental field. This relationship is a continuous mutual process in service of spiritual connection between human beings and the environment. “
Lincoln, V. (2000). Ecospirituality: A pattern that connects. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 13(3), 227-244.
Ecospirituality is a manifestation of the spiritual connection between human beings and the environment. Ecospirituality incorporates an intuitive and embodied awareness of all life and engages a relational view of person to planet, inner to outer landscape, and soul to soil. This study describes an appraisal of a pattern in the human environmental, continuous mutual process and innovative change; a phenomenological study that used the focus group method. Randomly selected volunteer registrants (n=36) of phase one of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association Certificate Program in Holistic Nursing constituted the sample and participated in one of four focus groups. The findings of this study contribute to holistic nursing by examining the essence of the lived experience of an ecospiritual consciousness of select holistic nurses. The essences of an ecospiritual consciousness are uniquely inseparable entities embedded within the framework of an ecospiritual consciousness. The essences are tending, dwelling, reverence, connectedness, and sentience.
The purpose of this phenomenological study is to describe holistic nurses’ experience of ecospiritual consciousness. The theoretical base of this research is the Rogerian Conceptual Model of the Science of Unitary Human Beings (Rogers, 1970). Although studies have been done both in the environmental domain and the spiritual domain, there has been little inquiry concerning the relationship between the environment and spirituality. Knowledge as to the nature of ecospirituality is important to the practice of holistic nursing because the health of the environment is a phenomenon of central concern to holistic nurses and because holistic nursing is a spiritually based discipline. In addition, holistic nurses view the energy fields of humans and the environment as inextricably linked. As the concept of relationship is fundamental in a unitary framework, investigation into the relationship between the environment and spirituality is warranted.
Focus group inquiry was the method of qualitative investigation used in this study. Focus group inquiry is used in the development of educational programming and in generating constructs and hypotheses (Kingry, Tiedje, & Friedman, 1990). The focus group interview is “a qualitative approach to learning about population subgroups with respect to conscious, semiconscious, and unconscious psychological and sociological characteristics and processes” (Basch, 1987, p. 411). Focus groups were used to explore holistic nurses’ experience of ecospiritual consciousness.
THE ESSENCES OF ECOSPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS
The goal of a phenomenological inquiry is to describe a lived experience of a group of people. It is a holistic, retrospective, and evocative methodology that reveals the essence of a lived experience (vanManen, 1990), in this case, accessing an ecospiritual consciousness.
The data are analyzed to reveal both the particulars of the coparticipants’ lived experiences and the commonalties among them. Linked commonalties comprise an essence. These essences comprise the infrastructure of an ecospiritual consciousness. The term essence refers to the nature of a patterned exchange in the human/environmental mutual process (vanManen, 1984). It is important to note that the notion of an individual essence is incompatible with a holistic worldview. Essences are uniquely inseparable entities embedded in the framework of a phenomenon such as ecospiritual consciousness. Although they may be discussed separately for heuristic purposes, the essences that comprise ecospiritual consciousness are, in actuality, as inseparable from it as refracted light is from a prism.
Data synthesis revealed ecospiritual consciousness to be composed of five essences: tending, dwelling, reverence, connectedness, and sentience.
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS
This study was an investigation of the lived experience of ecospiritual consciousness and, as such, was an inquiry into the lived experience of what has been termed the in-between and the beyond. Silva, Sorrell, and Sorrell (1995) defined these ways of being as follows:
“By the in-between, we mean what exists or reveals itself through nonlinear, meditative thinking that moves in all directions and depths. By the beyond we mean those aspects of reality, meaning, and being” (p. 3). The proposition that these pandimensional states of being exist is congruent with Rogers’s Science of Unitary Human Beings.
Ecospirituality can be viewed as a pattern that is both a process as well as a manifestation of the human field in relationship with the environmental field. This relationship is a continuous mutual process in service of spiritual connection between human beings and the environment. The phenomenon of concern of holistic nurses is the health of human beings and their environment. Holistic nurses subscribing to a unitary framework characterize the energy fields of human and environment as inextricably connected. Holistic nurses are well positioned to support and contribute to the healing of the whole by accessing an ecospiritual pattern as well as by their individual actions, pattern recognition, behaviors, consciousness, and choices. These choices, which support right relationship and coevolutionary becoming one person at a time, contribute to the healing of self, other, and planet.
| © 2000 American Holistic Nurses’ Association Journal of Holistic Nursing