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Posted by on in President's Update

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"Lotus, Fire & Light" - Photo by Cat Miller

 
June 2020 President Monthly Ezine
 
This isn't the ezine I planned to write this weekend.
 
What I was going to write about were the ways in which we as a global community of healers have connected with each other over the past two and half months during the pandemic. However, the events of the past week in the U.S., and particularly this weekend, give me cause to write something different.
 
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, my country has been inflamed and in flames in response to systemic racism that continues to rear its head through police violence. Protests in cities across the U.S. have led to police brutality and riots. And as I check in with friends in colleagues in the cities affected, as well as my African American and black friends, students, and colleagues who are reeling from the collective trauma, I have been thinking about what I can do to affect change.
 
Enter this ezine.
 
I take these ezines seriously knowing that our full email list has tens of thousands of subscribers worldwide. I try to be judicious with my words and work to strike a global tone and not be U.S.-centric. But right now, what's happening in my country is the best example of why the Attributes of the Heart and our global healing presence is so desperately needed.
 
The U.S. is not alone. Folks have been rallying globally to affirm that black lives matterPeople rallied in Toronto this week because of the suspicious death of a woman of color. Populations in developing countries continue to struggle in an unfathomable way to respond to the pandemic, the legacy of colonialism showing its scars. The Rohingya refugee crisis continues. The climate crisis continues. It's all enough to leave one feeling hopeless.
 
 
I don't know about you, but our global community of students, practitioners, and instructors is one of the things that gives me hope. When I turn to the news and encounter the darkness of the world, the knowledge that I'm part of a community of people who care, truly care about the wellbeing of others gives me hope. I don't feel alone, that I am working toward a collective purpose. Now is one of those times that I need to focus on the hope in the midst of the carnage.
 
I have no idea what it means to be a person of color. No concept of all that comes with that given the history of the U.S. But I cannot turn my eye away from it. To do so, to remain silent and ignore it is to, in effect, condone it. To view it as too political, too harsh, too much...well, that would be the easy way out that my privilege as a white male affords me.
 
But I choose to leverage that privilege, in any way I can for equity and social justice. Too political? I would argue that in today's world, the Attributes of the Heart - compassion, unconditional love, healing presence, innate harmony, and joyful service - are political acts. In a world that often seems bent on capitalism and survival of the fittest, those qualities of the heart are a gracious act of defiance.
 
So, as we continue to ride out the storm of the pandemic and all the other things that make us all too human, please join me in intention and meditation. Focus with me on the Attributes of the Heart. Sit with me in discernment so that when the pandemic passes, we do not merely return to normal, or even a "new normal." Let us set intention to return to something better.
 
Sincerely,
Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, FGSA
President, Healing Beyond Borders

Posted by on in President's Update
b2ap3_thumbnail_Light.jpgImage is from Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons license

 May 2020 President Monthly Ezine

As I put words onto the page today, it is Mother's Day. It also is the middle of Nurses Week. These two events meld profoundly in my mind.
 
I've written before about my mother's death. I was by her side, holding her hand when she went into cardiac arrest after offering her Chakra Spread. In the midst of all the chaos that followed, there was one constant.
 
It was a nurse who literally held me up, bracing me from collapse in the corridor as the crash team worked to revive my mother. It was a nurse who helped me to call my family, frantically imploring them to rush to the hospital. It was a nurse who checked on us every hour on the hour in the ICU waiting room. It was a nurse who comforted us, who hugged us, who helped us to honor my mother in final moments and navigate our way following her death.
 
And it was a nurse who did those same things the following year when each of my mother's parents died and whenever my family has lost someone we love.
 
I have been privileged to spend my academic career in the collaborative camaraderie of nurses. I have witnessed not only what they do in emergent health care situations, but also the ways in which they steer their novices into becoming what remains the most trusted of professions. I have learned a great deal from these nurse colleagues.
 
It was a nurse who founded the Center for the Study of Complementary Therapies at the University of Virginia and sustained that Center for 20 years. It was a nurse, that same founding director, who saw in me the ability to become a successful health sciences researcher, offering me a postdoctoral research fellowship and guiding me as a mentor to this day.
 
It was a nurse who founded our organization and worked collaboratively to create our course of study and certification. It was a nurse who taught my Healing Touch classes. It was a nurse who mentored me to certification.
 
Nurses have served in every leadership position within our organization. Nurses hold many of these roles today. Nurses have guided our community through the fire during times of hardship and rejoiced with us in times of joy.
 
I am the first president of our organization without a nursing background. Many of our students, practitioners, and instructors are not nurses. But it diminishes me in no way to acknowledge the nursing lineage of our beloved therapy and organization. In fact, given the acts of heroism nurses have always done and continue to do, especially during the current pandemic, I am humbly grateful for and to be part of this lineage.
 
We've all seen the images. The nurses on the so-called frontlines, covered in personal protective equipment or the bruising imprints of wearing those masks for hours on end. Of the nurses comforting those with COVID19 and their families. Of the nurses comforting each other as they continue to provide compassionate care as we live through this moment in history. Given all that they do, are doing, and have done, the Board of Directors wanted to offer something to them.
 
A strength of our organization is the role our members have played in creating the research evidence base to support the practice of Healing Touch. Many of these studies have been led by or involved nurses and nursing scientists. As a small token of appreciation to all that nurses do, we've crafted a fact sheet from our Research Brief as a resource for nurses. Please feel free to distribute this fact sheet to the nurses in your life. Thank them for their kindness, their compassion, their resilience. Remind them that we are here for them.
 
I'm currently working on a position paper with colleagues from the Colleges of Nursing and Engineering, making the case for why nurses should be involved as a stakeholder in any effort to use technology in health care. During that conversation, one of my nursing colleagues said, "well, every patient has a nurse." And it's true. We may engage with health care professionals of all stripes and workers of all sorts in a hospital or health care setting. Indeed, it takes a village and the contributions of all are needed. But it diminishes none of those allied professionals to acknowledge and appreciate the nurses who stand by our sides.
 
The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in acknowledgment of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale rose to prominence during the Crimean War by establishing infection control practices and standards that saved lives. To get her point across effectively, she applied data visualization to the data she was collecting. While this may be one of first documented instances of innovative thinking and action by a nurse, nurses remain nimble in their holistic approach to the health care they provide. Healing Touch is just one of those examples.
 
I shall never forget the nurses who have quite literally held me up throughout my life. I am grateful for all of their work and for working with me, and us, to spread healing light and create wholeness on Earth.
 
Sincerely,
Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, FGSA
President, Healing Beyond Borders

Posted by on in President's Update

b2ap3_thumbnail_dawn-image.jpgImage is from Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons license

April 2020 President Monthly Ezine

"There are years that ask questions, and years that answer." ~Zora Neale Hurston
 
I've been thinking a lot about the quote above recently and how, to me, 2020 seems to be doing both. We are being asked a lot of questions right now. How do we respond to the pandemic? How do we best take care of ourselves and others? What do we truly value? What will our day-to-day lives be like on the other side of this? What is it that we are feeling?
 
I believe we're being offered the opportunity to divine answers, too. What we truly value and hold dear is clearer than perhaps it has ever been for some of us. And as for feelings, most of us are sitting with a mix of sadness, anger, apprehension, and grief. The surrealism of life going on in some ways in the middle of pandemic when so much of life is halted is another reality.
 
In the middle of all the tumult, our community has lost a dear friend, mentor, leader, and champion. Dr. Laura Hart passed away on April 1, 2020. I had the distinct privilege to work closely with Laura and Lisa Anselme on the current Healing Touch textbook and she was my mentor for instructor training. I shall always remember Laura for her tenacity, compassion, and no-nonsense demeanor. She was a straight shooter with a heart of gold who will be sorely missed. I am grateful for the memories I have.
 
Many of us have been finding respite and comfort in our hobbies and interests to manage the mix of emotions in which we're now living. I share a few below from which I continue to draw inspiration.
 

blessing the boats (at St. Mary's)
by Lucille Clifton
 
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
 

"Life, inexhaustible, goes on. And we do too. Carrying our wounds and our medicines as we go...Perhaps our planet is for learning to appreciate the extraordinary wonder of life that surround even our suffering, and to say Yes, if through the thickest of tears."
~Alice Walker, from the foreword to Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon
 

"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."
~Haruki Murakami
 

"For the New Year, 1981"
By Denise Levertov
 
I have a small grain of hope-
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.
 
I need more.
 
I break off a fragment
to send you.
 
Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won't shrink.
 
Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.
 
Only so, by division,
will hope increase,
 
like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source-
clumsy and earth-covered-
of grace.
 

In the meantime, self-care is not an option these days. Indeed, it never was. Focus on the Attributes of the Heart, particularly Innate Harmony as was observed by Myra Tovey, who shared in a recent email to Lisa Anselme and me the following: "I would like to suggest that we focus on the Attribute of the Heart, Innate Harmony, 'being calm in the midst of chaos'. That will help transform fear into love."
 
In closing, I'm reminded of the fifth Attribute of the Heart, what Bonnie Johnson has described as "joy-filled" service. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. Our skills as students, practitioners, and instructors of Healing Touch are vital to our wellbeing and a gift to others. In that spirit of service, I remind you of our call for nominations for upcoming vacancies on the Board of Directors. Nominations can be submitted through April 30, 2020.
 
Be safe, be well,

Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, FGSA
President, Healing Beyond Borders Board of Directors

Posted by on in President's Update

b2ap3_thumbnail_mindfulness.jpgImage is from Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons license

February 2020 President Monthly Ezine

"Life is a mixed blessing, which we vainly try to unmix." ~Mignon McLaughlin

I find myself in the midst of two strategic visioning processes at the moment. At the university, I am a member of the executive committee steering the strategic visioning plan. Simultaneously, the Board of Directors is fleshing out a plan based on our discussions during our strategic visioning work at the conference last year. In both cases, these groups of volunteers are striving to come up with optimistic, inspirational, and aspirational ideas, goals, and actions to serve the respective organizations over the next several years. And in both cases, I am mindful of the necessity that we be authentic to who we are, warts and all.

Authenticity is at once the hardest and easiest thing to do. It requires honesty, humility, courage, and tenacity. Authenticity is all about the mixed blessings in the quote above. It is something that some shy away from, while others cannot exist any other way than to wear their authenticity on their sleeves. To me, it means acknowledging and embracing your perceived flaws in the journey toward remembering your wholeness.

At the university, we're juxtaposing the current climate around racism, bigotry, and xenophobia, the institution's history (rosy and not-so-rosy), and who we want to be. For Healing Beyond Borders, we're weighing past, present, and future with changing demographics and health care systems. Where do we fit? How do we lead? What is our role? How do we flourish? Those seem to be questions I continually ask myself during life transitions or when existential angst creeps in.

The thing that is making both of these strategic visioning processes less onerous are the people involved. Both at the university and amongst the Board of Directors, I am fortunate to work with passionate, compassionate, and enlightened individuals. In both settings, we're taking this seriously and approaching it with heart. While one wouldn't expect anything less for our Board, it's rewarding to know that I work with such people in all walks of my life. For that I am grateful.

Additional thoughts...

What I'm reading
Mary-Cathrine Campbell introduced me to a book she inherited from Alexandra Jonsson titled Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Borysenko. It's a unique book of daily meditations that incorporates a lot of spiritual traditions. I started incorporating it into my daily routine last fall, but this is the first year that I've started it from the beginning.

What I'm listening to
I seem to have India. Arie on repeat these days, specifically her album titled SongVersation: Medicine and especially the song Soulbird Rise.

What I'm keeping in my awareness
In addition to being mindful, I've discovered for myself a need to be purposeful. I am quite aware of my levels of stress, pain, etc., but often that's as far as it goes-acknowledging the state of what is. For that to change, one way or the other, I must be purposeful in how that might take place and in taking action to do so.

In light,
Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, FGSA
President, Healing Beyond Borders Board of Directors

Posted by on in President's Update

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hawaii.jpgPhoto by Joel Anderson

 January 2020 President Monthly Ezine

As I write this ezine, I am sitting in the lobby of the Grand Wailea on Maui. I have been here for the past week to attend the Hawaiian International Conference on Systems Science, which has occurred in Hawaii for the past 53 years. In recent years, the conference has expanded to include health and health care information systems, as well as how society uses digital technologies such as social media. These new tracks overlap nicely with my research to support family caregivers of people with dementia and how these caregivers use technology to manage the caregiving experience.

I first visited the Hawaiian Islands in 2014 when my friend invited me to join her on Kauai at her timeshare. I immediately fell in love with Kauai, feeling a deep spiritual connection to the island. That first trip was magical, and I have been fortunate to return to these islands several times since.

On previous trips to Hawaii, and to this conference, I have traveled with a friend or colleagues. But this trip was just me. This solitude offered the chance to enjoy many moments of reflection and meditation. And while I may not be traveling with my friends this time, I do have the pleasure of meeting up with Sarah Porter for dinner on my way back to the airport this evening.

It is comforting to know that most any place I go, I can connect with our Healing Touch community. This is especially true and poignant given the news of the day, with tensions high in the Middle East, bushfires raging across Australia, and extreme weather popping up around the globe. It is one thing to know that you are part of something bigger than yourself; it is another to have tangible proof of that. That tangibility and connection is one of the many things I cherish about our Healing Touch community.

Sitting here in these lush surroundings, I am full of gratitude for the privileges of my life and the many compassionate, heart-centered people who populate it, many of whom are members of our Healing Touch community.

May we continue to carry the vision and mission of Healing Beyond Borders into this new year, supported by the Attributes of the Heart and a deep-rooted commitment to community.

With aloha,
Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, FGSA
President, Healing Beyond Borders Board of Directors