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Helping dying patients transition to another realm: caring for people who are dying is a privilege. Nursing the dying at a metaphysical level requires specialist knowledge and great sensitivity. A nurse shares her understandings of metaphysical nursing care.


'I aim to combine nursing and metaphysics, so nurses may develop an understanding of the journey their patiensts are undertaking, and that mystics may understand the nursing processes involved in transition.'--Julie Linley

I don't believe in reincarnation and I didn't believe in it during my past life either." So Des an old quip.

My mother always said to me she didn't believe in computers either, but that did not stop them from working. In other words, just because you do not understand how something works, does not stop it from functioning.

Having been involved for 30 years in nursing dying people, and having studied metaphysics for a similar length of time, I would like to share some of the knowledge I have accumulated from both areas and attempt to amalgamate them. I aim to combine nursing and metaphysics, so nurses may develop an understanding of the journey their patients are undertaking, and that mystics may understand the nursing processes involved in transition.

Metaphysics has been described as "The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value." (1) and as "... philosophy concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, being and the world.., eg What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of reality? What is mankind's place in the universe? Does the world exist outside the mind?" (2)

As a student nurse in the 1970s and '80s, I was carefully enculturated into a scientific rote, of forming assessments based on physical observations, and formulating care based on such observations. As a modern student, I learned to care for the "bio-psycho-social being". There was but lip service paid to spirituality, and then only pertaining to mainstream Christianity.

It has been suggested that, during the 20th century, education on spirituality for nurses was deliberately avoided, because nurses were actually discouraged from accepting any higher authority than doctors. (3)

Innate skills

Little did my teachers, colleagues or patients know of the other skills I brought into my nursing practice; innate skills I had possessed from before birth. I have had these skills for as tong as I can remember. They have never frightened me, rather they are my reality, how I perceive the world. How could I begin to describe the reality which existed, unseen by their eyes? I was too afraid of being labelled "psychiatrically unstable" to describe to them the colours of their auras, the healing power in my hands or the work of the angels hovering nearby. I was also aware that how I use these innate skills and abilities is more important than the skills themselves.

The physician-counsellor M. Scott Peck, in the 1990s, described four stages of spiritual development: stage one: absence of spirituality/manipulative or antisocial behaviour; stage two: format religion; stage three: sceptic/ agnostic (scientists); and stage four: mystical/ communal stage. (4)

These are very neat scientific categories, but useful in their application to nursing, particularly in that difficulties can arise when nurses care for patients above their level of spiritual development. Knowledge of such advanced states may be the first step in preparing for them. If nurses such as myself "come out of the closet", others may follow!

It is with some trepidation I am publishing this piece in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand. There are those who are sceptical; others who believe the work is of the devil; and others who see it as evidence of a psychosis. I have never talked about my reality to another nurse. But I was encouraged to offer this piece for publication by a tutor at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Daphne Manderson, who, in a paper I studied on ethics around death and bereavement, talked of alternative spirituality.

The existence of consciousness beyond the confines of our physical body has been the subject of debate for thousands of centuries. There are far better logicians than I to argue the merits of reincarnation but to me it is as real as the keyboard on which I write this article. I remember with tremendous clarity other lives and deaths and loves and bodies, so I am in no position to argue logically. Except to point out that perhaps the easiest way to understand reincarnation is to experience consciousness beyond the confines of the current body. Everybody does this at night during sleep, but prefers to forget it. I am not talking here about the random images or film scenes played out in the dream state, but about the true astral travels of the soul. There are many techniques for experiencing consciousness beyond the body, but deep meditation is one of the best.

The mists of reality are translucent to some of us, and not all practising mystics are locked away in monasteries. Unfortunately, extreme sensitivity can be more of a curse than a Messing, particularly when in the vicinity of patients in real physical or emotional pain. Such vibrations can be seriously disturbing for sensitive psychics and need a lot of love/energy to overcome them.

Science is now beginning to recognise what mystics have always known--that energy is everything and, furthermore, that that energy is a vast interacting, interweaving web of probabilities.

There are no basic building blocks of matter; there are merely different vibratory rates of energy. Newtonian physics that we were all taught in high school, with its theory of little pingpong ball atoms, is illusory. Einstein shattered Newton's theories irrevocably with his relativity theory, ie that space is not three-dimensional, and time is not a separate entity. Incidentally, the average "psychic" who sees events occurring, may be visualising an event anywhere in the past, present or future.

There is actually a lot of new information coming to light currently, that not only is time not linear, but that it occurs simultaneously. Therefore, each of us is experiencing different realities at 12 different levels at any one time.

This fits in with holographic views of the universe, which theorise that the energy of the universe is not transmitted; it is simultaneous and everywhere.

Physicist David Bohm states "... all organisms and forms are holograms embedded within a universal hologram ... called the holomovement". (5)

Neurosurgeon and neurological researcher Karl Pribram applied holographic theories to brain research, and discovered that the brain's senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are structured holographically. This means each fragment of brain tissue can produce information about the whole. He also states that the holographic domain transcends time and space. (6)

The truths of the universe

Mystics understood the truths of the universe for thousands of years before western scientific thought emerged. Modern science is only now beginning to comprehend all that it does not know. As we sit on this linear plane of time we have invented for ourselves, in this particular shared reality, science and the occult (literally translated as hidden), physics and metaphysics, are drawing ever closer to each other. Many scientists are now experimenting and hypothesising on subjects that a few decades ago would have had them labetted as schizophrenic or delusional.

During the 1970s, engineer Robert Monroe conducted 60,000 experiments using sound waves to produce out-of-body experiences. His experiments concluded that the boundaries between the material and immaterial world were far more fluid than most people realised. (7)

In her book Spiritual Intelligence, The Ultimate Intelligence, physicist and philosopher Danah Zohar and psychologist and philosopher Ian Marshall, argue that since the amount of energy in the universe does not change, it merely changes form, that the energy within a body is just part of the cyclic process of nature, and is simply transformed by death. (8) This theory has been expanded to explain that the distinction between matter and energy does not exist at a sub-atomic level, and that what we perceive to be birth or death is merely the infinite motion of the universe. (9)

Scientific experiments are also carried out by mystics at the laboratory at Rose-Croix University in Burbank, California. One such experiment, in which uninformed subjects were given absent healing and registered dramatic changes on voltmetre readings, is well documented. (10) Voltmetres measure electrical currents through the skin.

There are thousands of experiments being performed world-wide in the realms of physics, parapsychology and metaphysics. One of these days, science will "prove" what mystics have known all along!

Mystics from all religions describe the light around people's heads and there have been many scientific instruments designed in an attempt to capture or measure the field of energy surrounding the human body.

Psychologist and researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, Valerie Hunt, conducted interesting experiments with scientific measurements of the effects of a heater upon a person. The measurements compared the description of the aura given by the healer, with changes in electronic signals. (11) From this, the frequencies for the colours of the aura have been determined. Blue: 250-275 Hz plus 1200Hz; Green: 250-475 Hz; Yellow: 500-700 Hz; Orange: 950-1050 Hz; Red: 1000-1200 Hz, Violet: 1000-2000 plus 300-400 Hz plus 600-800 Hz; and White: 1100-2000 Hz. It is worth noting that these frequencies are in reverse order of spectral colours, where violet has a low frequency and red a higher frequency.

It is relatively easy to learn to "see" or feet the life-energy fields, whether in humans or animals, plants or the sky, or even inanimate objects. There are many training programmes available. But for the idly curious, with little inclination to learn it themselves, aura photographs are available. Personalty, the photographs I have seen bear little resemblance to anything I have ever witnessed--they appear to me to be more like refractive problems with the tenses. But people have to make a living somehow, and there is always a steady stream of gullible folk with fat wallets!

While some auras can be observed at low levels of consciousness, to observe an aura properly entails entering a higher state of consciousness. The aura consists of seven layers of energy, and each layer is associated with a chakra, or energy vortex. To interpret and understand the significance of the aura are major undertakings, and are stilt virtually the sole domain of mysticism at this point in time. Suffice to say, that when medicine finally recognises and learns to heat with it, we will no longer have the same need for medications or surgery.

The path to transition

It is said that the soul enters the body with the first breath and departs with the last. But the gradual progression of the body towards its last breath is something that nurses are really involved with. The path to transition can be one of the most rewarding times in a person's existence, and to be permitted to share it with somebody is an incredible honour. Both the arrival and the departure of a soul from this earthly plane is surrounded by tremendous energies, as the carers on the next plane assist the soul in its transition.

The intuitive nurse will "know" beforehand, maybe minutes, or hours, or days, depending on the rate of dying, that a patient is to pass over. This may be based on expert nursing knowledge, a premonition, or observing the gathering of the angels in the room of the dying person.

The person moves through the stages of dying, starting with an acceptance on the part of the body, a withdrawal of the energy through the chakras, the pre-death vision, to the final dissipation of the soul.

Prior to the acceptance of death, a patient may require permission to die. This was illustrated to me recently with an elderly woman who had been lingering for weeks, unable to either improve or to die. One morning, she said to me "Oh, I am such a mess, I really must get better, I must get better."

I sat on the edge of her bed and gently said to her, "Why do you need to get better?"

"Because my daughters expect me to."

"Well maybe you need to do what is right for you, not what is right for your daughters? Maybe it is ok for you not to get better, maybe it is time to leave this tired body and to die?"

"Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe it would be ..."

With permission granted, an affirmation that dying was an acceptable option, the woman began the dying process and entered transition a week later.

The stages of dying are beautifully described by heater and author Barbara Brennan, who describes the disintegration of the chakras and the tower etheric bodies which hold the physical body together. As the chakras break up, the aura becomes opalescent, and this is reflected in an opalescent, white look in the physical body. (6)

She also describes death as being a remembering; that all throughout life, things are walled off and forgotten and lie dormant within the chakras, but during the dying process, as the chakras are dissolved, the memories are released. As the energy field begins to separate, there is a spiritual flushing of the body with golden tight and all the blocks are cleansed. This is the stage of remembrance, of full integration, and the individual remembers who they truly are. (6)

Death is but the releasing of the wall of illusion, so the individual can move into another dimension of reality.

Much can be done to ease the transition period for patients, and not just at a physical level. Of course the physical body must be kept as comfortable as possible, with pressure cares, analgesia and other symptomatic relief. But it is the spiritual cares that are of most importance during the final stage of life. One writer places the emphasis on relationship, not knowledge, and advises that by giving someone our full attention, even without speaking, we are providing them with spiritual care. (13)

As the process continues, the dying person spends more time out of the body and away, but will still be close enough to register what is happening to the physical body.

Knowing that the senses of touch and hearing are the last to disappear, much comfort can be provided by massage, speech and music. Various exercises in guided imagery and use of the breath can be of benefit too, dependent on the patient and family.

Personally, I like to provide an atmosphere of peace, and to use love/energy to guide the person over.


Shortly before death, most people will be greeted by loved ones from the other side, and they may tell you they have seen their mother or someone special to them. This is comforting, both for the dying person and the family remaining on this side.

Often, families have little personal experience of death, and need to be cared for as much as the dying person. I explain things only if specifically asked, simply because many relatives are not in the right space to absorb too much information and may be distressed at knowing too many details of the death process.

At the point of death, the soul exits and the person experiences a "tunnel" leading towards the tight. This is welt documented in numerous articles, books and films, and the significance of it is hotly debated by scientists and mystics.

But to my eyes, it is observed as the final departure of both the spirit and the soul, with just the lower energy field remaining for a few days more. The main aura is gone, only a very faint energy field remains, almost undetectable. The soul and spirit, as well as the attending angels, may still be present near the body for differing periods of time, so it is important to still treat the body with utmost respect and dignity.

Care of the dying patient is at the heart of nursing. One of the most rewarding experiences of nursing is to accompany a soul to the edge of earthly existence, to bid it farewell with peace and hope.

Some patients are genuinely afraid to die. I still remember one man I nursed 25 years ago. Admitted to an acute medical ward with end-stage respiratory disease, he was the most difficult and cantankerous patient on the ward. But I worked with him through his end stages and my time with him became one of the rare times in my nursing career I have shared with a patient my persona[ knowledge of life beyond. I shared with him because the root of his challenging behaviour was a mortal terror of dying. I sat with him through to the end, way after I should have gone off-duty, holding his hand and talking gently. Towards the end, for the first time ever, I saw him smile and he described what he saw on the other side. He squeezed my hand and before he died, said that he was not afraid anymore. This is caring for the dying patient at a metaphysical level.

This article was reviewed by Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand's practice article review committee in March this year.


(1) Metaphysics. (2000) The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 02/07/07.

(2) Metaphysics. Wikipedia. Retrieved 01/07/07.

(3) McSherry, W. (2000) Making Sense of Spirituality in Nursing Practice: An Interactive Approach. London: Harcourts Publishers Ltd.

(4) Barnum, B. (2003) Spirituality in Nursing from Traditional to New Age. New York: Springer Publishing.

(5) Holographic Paradigm. June 2007. Wikipedia. Retrieved 01/07/07.

(6) Brennan, B. (1987) Hands of Light. New York: Bantum Books.

(7) Monroe, R. (1985) Far Journeys. New York: Doubleday & Co.

(8) Zohar, D. and Marshall, I. (2000) Spiritual Intelligence: The Ultimate Intelligence. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

(9) Reoch, R. (1997) Dying Well: A holistic approach for the dying and their corers. London: Gala Books Ltd.

(10) Buletza, G. (2003) Metaphysical Heating: A Scientific Demonstration. The Rosicrucian; 11, 18-20.

(11) Hunt, V., Massey, W., Weinberg, R., Bruyere, R. & Hahn, P. (1977) A study of structural integration from muscular, energy field, and emotional approaches, Retrieved 01/07/07.

(12) Lancaster, R. (1997) The meaning of spirituality and the nurse's rote in providing spiritual care to the dying patient. In Ronaldson, S. Spirituality, The Heart of Nursing. (2nd ed). Victoria, Australia: Ausmed Publications.

Julie Linley, RN, is the clinical leader at Green Gables Hospital in Nelson.

A version of this article was originally published in the Australasian publication The Rosicrucian.
COPYRIGHT 2008 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:VIEWPOINT
Author:Linley, Julie
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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