Zen and the Art of Nursing

Zen and the Art of NursingSusan’s newest publication is titled, Zen and the Art of Nursing. This book describes basic Zen. It provides readers with meditations that link Zen philosophy to nursing practices.

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Many times nurses are listeners whose ears are fine-tuned to pick up on patients’ innermost thoughts. A nurse’s quiet presence creates a shared, safe space where humans can utter their most terrifying thoughts and most shamed actions without worry of being judged. From nurses, clients gain an acceptance that brings peacefulness that often cannot be explained with words, but is realized by the nurse and patient.

— Susan L. Schoenbeck

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As I sat down to review Zen and the Art of Nursing, I was unsure what I would find. While I know nursing well through my 46 years as a nurse, I know only a little about Zen. But the title intrigued me – and I was curious.  What I found was a fascinating book but not just for reading – it provoked slowing down, reflecting, recalling old experiences and examining new patterns. Through the well-crafted, simple statements, I found myself learning about Zen and gaining an even deeper appreciation for nursing. I read certain passages and then stopped and appreciated the similarities. I read other passages and gained insights into my own behavior. The readings reminded me of the extraordinarily special relationships we nurses can have with our patients and their families, and the differences that we can make. But the readings also reminded me that we have to come fully open and prepared as we engage in these relationships. The investment is so worthwhile to our patients, their families and ourselves.

— Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor ad Honorem, Univesity of Minnesota School of Nursing


I am a nursing student in my senior year obtaining my BSN. As a busy student, I really appreciate the format and content of this book. I purchased the Kindle version and I really enjoy that the book is broken down into brief, profound Zen philosophies described in a short meditation and applied to nursing. I have found that I use the book by going to a random page and reading the affirmation that focuses on a Zen concept such as comfort, reverence or dignity. Sometimes I think about the meditation as I am going to my clinical sites. Other times I may think about it for days trying to integrate it into my practice. The book is very affirming and reminds me of what is of importance. I am very thankful for this beautiful book.

Teri Pollard
Nursing Student

Sue has managed to skillfully link Zen’s insights with nursing in wise reflections that will deepen and enrich the ministry of many nurses.  They will be intrigued by the original connections she makes between the two (Perhaps even those—as you mention–who have not previously thought that there is a relationship between Zen and Christianity).  An added incentive is the fact that the pages are short and clear, so nurses can turn to them even when they are tired or busy.   I will be thinking of nurses I know who would benefit from its helpful perspectives.

Kathleen Fischer
Author of numerous books related to spirituality including Transforming Fire, Autumn Gospel, Women at the Well, and Imaging Life After Death.

I would like to thank Ms. Shoenbeck. I have taken care of people who were in the last stages of their lives and up until their deaths. And her talk opened my mind to the journey they undertook. This makes me think how can I approach the topic of death and somethings to expect in its process. Ultimately, I found it an interesting talk and an informative one at that!
Thank you,

-Bond Nielson
Med Aide/ CNA
After “Death:OK” presentation at Reed College 10/17/15

Your book (Good Grief: Daily Meditations) is wonderful…I read a few quotes several times a week, it is emotionally supportive and permissive for all my feelings, sensitive and filled with wisdom…Thank you!

-Elliot Geller
LCSW, CGP, Portland, Oregon