Community Focus: Oregon Holistic Nurses Association
By Caryn Gehlman
This month we’re focusing on the importance of aromatherapy education, so it’s very appropriate that I get to introduce you to Deonne Wright RN, practitioner and owner of Deonne’s Aromablends. Deonne is an aromatherapist and a Registered Nurse. She has advanced essential oil training and is a leader and educator in holistic healthcare. She and I have cemented our relationship on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Holistic Nurses Association Board, of which she is a founding member.
You will find Deonne’s interview to be incredibly educational, whether you’re in health care or someone who’s interested in a proactive approach to their own health and wellness. And I love the Balancing blend recipe she shares at the end of our interview!
When were you initially introduced to essential oils and how do you use them in your practice?
It was in 1983, early in my career as a nurse that I was introduced to essential oils. I had been working at the VA full time with four small children and quickly got burned out. I quit that job after 2 ½ years, and took a night Charge Nurse position in a Skilled Nursing facility where the level of stress was significantly less. But even so, at shift change the afternoon Charge Nurse was very kind to me and could see I was having trouble coping. She brought out her essential oil ‘first aid’ kit and I fell in love with essential oils in that moment. Just inhaling lavender essential oil was a transformative experience in the way it helped to calm me.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a special connection with nature, especially trees and flowers. I felt like I’d stumbled into a higher level of communication with the plant beings when I interacted with their essence through the essential oils.
I began to build my small collection of oils over the next few years, exploring how they affected me emotionally and spiritually. It was during my recovery from three surgeries in eight months resulting from a motor vehicle accident, that I began seriously studying essential oils. In the Spring of 2001, I enrolled in an aromatherapy core curriculum course and traveled back and forth to Sacramento for classes for about four months. When that course work was completed, I sat the National Exam and qualified as a Registered Aromatherapist. Subsequent to that, in 2006, I studied in France under an Aromatologist – a medical doctor trained in the use of essential oil as medicine.
My practice has evolved from being focused solely on aromatherapy to essential oils now being the foundational support during the application of other modalities I’ve studied through the years. I have found essential oils to be so exquisitely elegant in the way they work in multi-dimensional ways on our psyche, emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies. With training and experience in practicing Pranic Healing, Sound Healing, Reiki, Space Clearing, Shamanic Healing, and Circle facilitation, I have seen essential oils potentiate healing work that is otherwise more difficult to accomplish.
Tell us about the Oregon Holistic Nurses Association and what it’s trying to accomplish.
The Oregon Holistic Nurses Association serves as a bridge between the traditional medical paradigm and universal integrative healing practices. Our mission is to create an environment of collaborative opportunities that promote empowerment, support, self-care and education for holistic nurses and other healing practitioners. Our organization is not exclusive to nurses, however; but the scope and standards are specifically developed and applied to nurses.
While we are not affiliated with AHNA, we definitely support and promote their Scope and Standards of Practice for Holistic Nursing. How we are different is in the geographic confines of a ‘chapter’. They limit chapters by a 60 mile radius, which doesn’t work on the west coast with our rural communities. OHNA is independent from AHNA so we can open up to anyone, anywhere who would like to be supported in their holistic practice with networking and holistic practice and modality education. We have members from Washington and California, in addition to our Oregon members. We had participants at our conference this year from around the country with 80 participants, which was a 47% increase over last year’s attendance! We know we’re filling a need.
What are some of the benefits of a holistic health approach that includes aromatherapy?
I encounter more and more people every day who are looking for more holistic ways of addressing their health concerns. It is my experience that including aromatherapy with other holistic modalities creates a synergy that generates infinite possibilities for health, wellness, and healing.
I consider the primary benefit of aromatherapy to be the ability essential oils have of creating balance. They work on the physical body’s function while simultaneously working on the other dimensions of Beingness we don’t see, i.e., the emotional, mental, spiritual, and energy bodies. They are multi-taskers and work subtly to ultimately assist balance on all levels. All we need to do is inhale them or apply them in a safe dilution to the skin and they go to work.
All of us have experienced trauma in our lives in some form. It leaves us wounded and challenged to stay in balance. I am a believer in the approach to health that disease is activated in the realms of the human body we don’t see with our human vision (emotional, mental, spiritual, energy, and psyche, or the subconscious) where imbalance begins. I have personally experienced emotional trauma that didn’t resolve with the many modalities I was using until I inhaled an essential oil concurrently with the modality. I felt an instant shift that took me from being inconsolable to singing within an hour! Essential oils are the concentrated intelligence of the plant itself and they help us navigate what we are unable to on our own.
How did you connect with Caryn and Essential 3?
I think it was somewhere in 2007 or 2008 when I got a call from her requesting that we meet. She said she was on the Ashland Hospital Planetree CAM implementation board, and they were looking at establishing an aromatherapy program. She was looking for an aromatherapist who was also a nurse and was given my name by a Board member. I was in the middle of a big project and asked her to call me back in three months, I think it was, and she did! We met and I don’t think even 5 minutes passed between us before we knew we had found a like-minded colleague.
She had been asked to teach the Aromatherapy Education to launch the modality at Ashland hospital. Since the audience was to be primarily nurses, Caryn believed they would find a nurse instructor more credible. We worked together on the education modules, and when the time came to teach the class, she was in the back of the room supporting me and helping answer questions. Together we established the original aromatherapy education in 2009 for what was then Ashland Community Hospital.
Since then we have continued to consult with each other on many concerns surrounding aromatherapy and implementation of education in hospital, clinic, and hospice settings. In no way do we consider ourselves competitors.
How has Essential 3 supported Oregon Holistic Nurses Association?
Caryn willingly stepped into a role on the OHNA Board of Directors as a Director-at-Large. Her contribution was insightful and inspiring, coming from a perspective outside nursing. With her vast experience in business she helped us clarify and formulate more effective policies and practices for growing our organization. She served for two years and her presence on the Board was very refreshing, as anyone who knows Caryn would understand!
Essential 3 is consistent in providing silent auction items for the OHNA scholarship fund, and we are very grateful. Those kits always have a long list of bids on them! Caryn has helped support our growth by spreading the word about OHNA and promoting the annual conference to appropriate audiences.
Additionally, Caryn and I have collaborated twice to co-present aromatherapy workshops at the conference two different years. They were both well-received, attendees asking for more! I always love working with Caryn in that way.
How do you use essential oils in your personal life and do you have a favorite blend you can share?
Every day, and throughout the day, I’m connecting with the beautiful, unique, and therapeutic qualities of multiple essential oils. My shower soap is made with lavender, a soothing way to awaken. I apply a blend of oils created with a specific intention in mind to my still-wet extremities. This blend is diluted with a carrier for safety. My face oil is a formula I created with oils that support skin health, again diluted with a carrier. I have created an underarm deodorant with hydrosols, which I follow with a ‘from scratch’ powder that has deodorizing essential oils added. I pamper my feet with a special foot butter containing essential oils also.
In addition to the care of my body, I inhale and diffuse essential oils, depending on the need of the day and the moment. I believe it is essential to first discover — in a very personal way – how essential oils can make a difference in our lives before trying to tell or teach others about them. Speaking from experience has so much credibility.
A blend I like and use a lot is one I call Balancing. I’m constantly challenged to find the balance in my life in every moment, and this blend helps bring me back to center.
Deonne’s Balancing Blend Recipe
For inhalation or diffusion only:
15 drops Cypress essential oil
13 drops Black Spruce essential oil
10 drops Lemongrass essential oil
10 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil
For application to the skin:
Dilute entire amount above in 2 oz carrier oil for a 4% dilution.
Dilute half the above amount in 2 oz carrier oil for a 2% dilution (for children, the elderly, or otherwise debilitated persons.)
Thank you Deonne for sharing your insights on aromatherapy and holistic health care. I feel so privileged to be a part of the Oregon Holistic Nurses Association. I love being part of a community of providers who are generous in sharing their experience, education, and expertise in aromatherapy with each other. Since we’re all about education at e3, please sign up for our emails so we can keep you up-to-date on the latest aromatherapy news.