Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Heuristic Journey of Discovery: Exploring the Positive Influence of the Natural Environment on the Human Spirit

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posted on 2021-11-03, 09:21 authored by Bridgen, Annette Frances

The intention of this heuristic study was to explore and discover the essence of the positive influence of the natural environment on the human spirit. The study quest was identified as a central concern that evolved from my personal experience of spiritual awakening in the natural environment and an interest in the concept of connectedness in nursing care and practice. The study also focused on the self of the nurse and the qualities of holistic nursing care. Guided by heuristic methodology developed by Moustakas (1990) the thesis traces a journey of discovery. Using conversational interviews, six nurses were asked to describe their experiences of their spirit being positively influenced in the natural environment. These nurses were also asked if these beneficial experiences had any flow-on effect to their nursing practice. From these interviews various commonalities of experience were identified as well as some experiences unique to the individual participants. The participant knowing was articulated using Reed’s (1992) dimensions of relatedness in spirituality as a framework. Reed describes these dimensions as being able to be experienced intrapersonally, interpersonally and transpersonally. A substantive body of nursing and non-nursing literature was explored to support the participant knowing and provide strength to the discussion. The study discovered that the human spirit is positively influenced in the natural environment. The three actions of personal healing and wellbeing in the natural environment, knowing self – knowing others and sustaining self in nursing practice were valued by the participants as contributing to the quality of their nursing care. In bringing together spirituality, the natural environment and nursing, holism was discovered to be the significant and connecting constituent. The study has some implications for the discipline of nursing that are also discussed.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Nursing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health


Duke, Jan; McEldowney, Rose