As someone in the helping profession, I can attest to the weight at times of care giving and without mindfulness or a space to process this, I would be a high candidate for burnout. This is what many people in our helping professions face today. That is why I am pleased to bring to you a dialogue Mick Krasner, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and has been teaching mindfulness to over 1400 physicians over 12 years. He was the project director of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the efficacy of “Mindful Communication” with physician burnout. He speaks nationally and internationally on this topic. You can find Dr. Krasner live on May 11th for a daylong of Mindfulness in Clinical Practice: Our Patients, Ourselves.
Today Dr. Mick Krasner talks to us about the state of affairs of physician burnout, how the approach of “Mindful Communication” is effective in healing, and thoughts he might lend to us some of our wounded healers.
Elisha: Can you share with us the current state of affairs with physicians in regards to burnout, emotional stability, and stress?
One thing we’ve learned about the brain over the last 15 years is that it can form new neural connections throughout the lifespan. This is called neuroplasticity, you may have heard of it. Neuroplasticity occurs when we practice and repeat doing things and eventually it just become automatic, like a habit. We see this in walking, talking, learning new car routes, playing an instrument or even meditation. When it comes to the enormous repetition of a constant connection to our technology, you have to assume, or likely you’ve experienced that the brain is strengthening that habit often times with a stressful cost.
Technology is great, but we’re just infants with it and we have to begin evolving with a wiser relationship.
Not too long ago humans had many uninterrupted spaces in their lives. If you were sitting at lunch with a friend the focus was on the conversation and there weren’t many things that would intrude. Now the brain has rewired to constantly monitor beneath your awareness any incoming messages and if there is a sign of one, a knee-jerk reaction occurs to check it.
Sherry Turkle from MIT and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has been studying this for decades. She talks about
Life goes by quickly and it’s only later that we look back with nostalgia. In The Now Effect I write about the ability to create “Present Nostalgia” as a means to savor the moment. This is the practice of imaging yourself in the future in a time when things have changed and looking back to see what is precious about this moment. Then, in the present moment you can savor what you’ve been missing. However, in his recent inauguration, President Obama also shows us how savoring is done.
Here’s the clip to watch:
Our brains are amazing, so amazing that even with all the wonderful advances in technology, neuroscientists are only still scratching the surface as to the way they work. But this fabulous brain can work for us and it can work against us stressing us out, sleepwalking into addictive behaviors or just leaving us feeling far away from any semblance of balance. But the moment we realize we’re out of balance is a moment where we have touched a glimpse of balance.
This space of awareness is a “choice point” to understand this nugget of wisdom and practice:
Rainn Wilson is the goofy guy that you may or may not know in the hit series The Office. In a recent interview with him he said something enlightening, “We’re so focused on the externals, looking outwards all the time and this is the trap of technology.” This is without a doubt true and for our developing kids and teens there is less and less time spent in self-reflection. We’re still infants in this technology age and if we’re aware enough, we can learn how to have the best relationship with it. One article recently came out with some suggestions and here are a few more key ones.
Here are a 3 mindful ways for Adults and Teens to get started.
You might even consider just using this 3-minute guided video from The Now Effect to train this grounded attention.
Our kids are our future and nowadays we are seeing them in them higher states of anxiety, impulsivity and other behavioral problems. In recent years mindfulness has been shown as an effective approach for children in lower stress and anxiety and even increasing states of feeling well. Susan Kaiser Greenland wrote The Mindful Child, I did an interview with Meg Cowan on her work with Mindful Schools, and Goldie Hawn has successfully started and organization called Mind Up. There is another very special organization started by two brothers Ali and Atman Smith and their friend Andres Gonzalez called Holistic Life Foundation. The three men made a choice to move back to their hometown and make a difference helping the kids transform their lives.
Today Ali, Atman and Andres talk to us about how mindfulness is helpful for behavioral problems, some key practices they have found to make a difference, why it’s important to help kids lead, and some advice for parents and teachers. Ali, Atman and Andres will be speaking at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego, Ca Feb 1-3, 2013.
Elisha: How is mindfulness helpful with kids who are impulsive, prone to behavioral problems and anger issues?
There’s no getting around it, life is finite. Some people realize that earlier on and for others it doesn’t come until later. But for Lisa Napoli, author of Radio Shangri-La, that day came at the age of 43 when her mid-life crisis hit and she was confronted to come to terms with who she was. By chance she was invited to the landlocked state in Southeast Asia, Bhutan and what she found there are some nuggets of wisdom that can help the rest of us through our own moments of crisis and even be a path to happiness.
Today, I’m happy to bring Lisa to you answering what she learned about happiness, how it changed her life and some advice about how to deal with the inevitable challenges of suffering. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area, this weekend Lisa will be speaking on her transformational journey through Bhutan at InsightLA in Santa Monica, Ca on January 12th from 7-9pm.
Elisha: What does Bhutan have to teach us about how to be happy?
It’s been a week out since The New Year has set upon us. Whether you’re a resolution person or not, odds are there are some thoughts that you have about what you’d like to see unfold over this next year. In The Now Effect I call this “Paying Attention to Your Intention” and one of the best ways to do that is to intentionally carve some time out of your busy life and take a mindful look at how you’d like to be in this next year. Taking a retreat is a great way to create the space to do this. You can do a mini-retreat of blocking out an hour or more or go to an organized retreat for deeper connection. This weekend, I’ll be at Kripalu in the Berkshires this weekend teaching The Now Effect Retreat to get the year started right. I’d love to see you there.
Whether your intentions for the year have to do with work, parenting, stress, relationships, procrastination, compassion or any other areas of your life, setting goals is an integral piece to making change. But often times when we do this we are rigid, it has to be a certain way or else we haven’t achieved success. But this rigidity only backfires on us.
The thought arises, “I’ve failed once again,” arises, leading to a sense of sluggishness and the next thought, “What’s the point?”
There’s another way.
Is it possible that everything you do matters? A number of years ago social scientists Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., and James Fowler, Ph.D., conducted a study that found obesity is contagious by up to three degrees of separation. Then later found that loneliness is also contagious by three degrees of separation and it matters if you have people in your life who feel happy. In 1951 David Bohm wrote a book with a theory that if you split an atomic particle into two sub-units and sent them to opposite ends of the universe, if you gave one a spin, the other would spin too. Neuroscience shows us that how we pay attention and what we pay attention to effects neural growth in our brains. What would be different if we understood that our actions matter?
Here’s a picture that says it well: