Research on the Benefits of Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals!
In 2013 HHS and St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton received a Health Work Environment Partnership and Innovation grant from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to study the impact of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on healthcare providers. 125 healthcare professionals, including nurses, social workers, PT/OT, managers and others, were enrolled in the study. Pre and post surveys were completed to track changes in empathy and symptoms of burnout. Focus groups were conducted with participants one year later to explore the sustained impact of the program. The study by Sandra Moll, Andrea Frolic and Brenda Keys was recently published in the Journal of Hospital Administration. It found that participants experienced:
• significant increase in empathy and compassion
• significant decrease in burnout
• increased ability to listen mindfully to others
• less emotional reactivity
• enhanced skills in managing conflict
• an ability to integrate mindfulness into daily life both within and outside of work
Click here to read the full version of the study! Share with your friends!
A: Our minds are often busy - when we're not reliving the past, we're planning the future. Rarely are we in the present moment. And yet, the present moment is the only time we have to live, love, learn, create and be happy. Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening moment to moment, without judgment. The body's sensations and the contents of the mind are all witnessed from a place of pure awareness. This awareness allows us to be more attentive to the pleasant events in our day, and helps us be more skillful in navigating times of stress and suffering. Mindfulness allows us to fully experience our lives.
A: Mindfulness practices have been studied using a variety of Western research methods, including controlled trials and fMRIs, for several decades. Evidence has shown that people who practice mindfulness experience:
A: Mindfulness is not a “trick” or a “fad” or a “quick fix” for our lives. Mindfulness is a kind of brain exercise. Like we need physical exercise on a regular basis to maintain health, the full benefits of mindfulness come from regular practice. HHS has partnered with the McMaster University Program for Faculty Development to offer staff/physicians/ students/faculty access to discounted mindfulness courses designed specifically for people who work in healthcare. Information on these courses can be found at http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/facdev
In addition, a group of professionals interested in promoting mindfulness in healthcare and education has just formed in Hamilton, called the Mindfulness Hamilton Network. Their website will contain links to resources, lectures and local classes related to mindfulness practices. Visit their website at: www.mindfulnesshamilton.ca
A: HHS has recently launched “Mindfulness for Lunch” sessions at each of our sites to support mindfulness practice in the workplace. These drop-in sessions are generally 30 minutes long and include a 10-15 minute guided mindfulness practice as well as time for Q&A. All HHS staff, physicians and learners are welcome to attend; there is no cost or need to register. People new to meditation are welcome; no prior experience necessary. See below for information about the “Mindfulness for Lunch” session at your site:
A: Mindfulness asks us to suspend our goal-oriented approach to life for a few moments, to learn to pause and reflect, and to simply meet things as they are. Letting go of the idea that the practice must have a particular outcome in order to be “successful” is part of mindfulness. It seems paradoxical – doing through non-doing?
Mindfulness requires no less than a radical rotation in consciousness. The following is a glossary of foundational attitudes that will help to build a strong mindfulness practice.
Non-judging: Non-judging requires that we become an impartial witness to our constant stream of reactions to life. We tend to label and categorize almost everything we see. Then we react automatically to what we see, but we are seeing through our own prejudices and fears. Non-judging reminds us to just watch whatever comes up, including our tendency to judge.
Patience: Patience acknowledges that sometimes things must unfold in their own time. We give ourselves room to have our experiences without trying to rush through them to get to “better” ones. Why? Because we are having them anyway. Patience also helps us accept the mind’s tendency to wander, while reminding us that we don’t have to get caught up in its travels.
Beginner’s mind: Our beliefs prevent us from seeing things as they really are. They are based on past experiences and lead us to think that we know more than we do. Yet each moment is new and therefore contains unique possibilities. Beginner’s mind asks us to see with a clear and uncluttered mind instead of seeing only through the veil of our thoughts and opinions.
Trust: Trust means not getting caught up in the reputation and authority of others. Instead, we are invited to honor our own feelings, intuitions and
experiences. While teachers and books can provide signposts, only you can take responsibility for knowing yourself. “Read the book that is your life”. (Shinzen Young)
Non-striving: Almost everything we do is for a purpose. Although meditation requires a lot of work of a certain kind, it has no goal other than for you to be yourself. It asks you to try less and be more. The best way to achieve your goals is to back off from striving for results and instead focus on seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goals will happen by itself.
Acceptance: Acceptance simply means that you are willing to see things as they are. It doesn’t mean that you have to like everything or that you have to take a passive attitude and abandon your principles and values. You are much more likely to know what to do and have the inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening, than when your vision is clouded by judgment, desire, fear or prejudice.
Letting go: Letting go means putting aside the tendency to hold onto some experiences and reject others. When we observe our mind grasping or pushing away, we remind ourselves to let go of those impulses. In this way, we can become an expert on our own attachments and aversions – we come to understand their consequences in our lives. We also come to know what happens when we do let go.
Commitment: In addition to these attitudes, you will also need to bring
motivation to your practice. A strong commitment to knowing yourself and
enough self-discipline to persevere in the process are essential to developing a strong meditation practice and a high degree of mindfulness.
A: There is no “correct dosage” of mindfulness practice. Studies have shown that benefits can be experienced with as little as 15-20 minutes of daily practice. When you can, it is good to meditate for longer stretches (but only as long as it is physically comfortable for you). However, you can integrate mindfulness practices throughout your day. Here are a few suggestions:
In the morning:
Many things happen in the day that we can use to bring us home to the present moment, including:
Thanks to: Dr. Andrea Frolic and Anna Taneburgo for their contributions to these FAQ.
To learn more about the upcoming Mindfulness courses, programs and events, please register online through the HHS Centre for People Development, Compassion and Resilience stream: www.centreforpeopledevelopment.ca
*NEW* Medical Post story: the impact of mindfulness at HHS