Exemplars of Being are all around us. This week, we explore the principle of Being over the airwaves, in our daily activities, and in nature. The more we study and understand the art and practice of Being through different perspectives, the more likely it is that we will better integrate Being seamlessly into our day-to-day life.
This week, consider trying one of the “Spark it” actions to master Being present, Being engaged, Being there for yourself, and for your team members, providers, patients, and guests. We’re looking forward to hearing where you find inspiration on your journey to Being!
We are not the only ones reflecting on the important nature of Being; Krista Tippett devotes her whole podcast to it. “On Being” is a weekly conversation between long-time journalist and radio host, Tippett, and her guest of the week. Exploring topics of spirituality, LIVING, LOVING, and other pieces of life that define our ability to be, the show opens your mind to how experts on Being improve their personal practice and integrate it into their work. Take, for instance, this episode featuring Brother David Steindl-Rast. A Benedictine monk and a champion of interfaith dialogue, Brother David shares how Gratitude and gratefulness have guided his life’s work and provides ways to integrate these qualities into our own practice of Being.
Consider how gratefulness or spirituality might inform the way individuals on our teams approach their work? How about how they inform the healing journey of our patients?
While there are active ways to Be, it’s important that we recognize the difference between Being and “doing.” From yogic practices, we learn that when we function completely in the present moment, we are Being. When we act out of concern for constructing the future, we are doing. “Being vs. doing” is a good lens to apply to all of our day-to-day activities to ensure that we’re staying engaged. Complete devotion to one activity without distraction by anything else increases productivity and decreases frantic energy.
Look at your workday using the framework of Being vs. doing. What percentage of time do you spend Being, and what time do you spend doing? What barriers are in place to prevent you from spending more time Being?
Ever hear of or participated in the art of forest bathing? While you may not have known you were partaking, if you’ve spent time in the woods soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, then you have in fact enjoyed what the Japanese call “Shinrin-yoku.”
Shinrin-yoku translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere” and aims to bring the therapeutic qualities of nature to a society that is spending increasingly more and more time indoors. This practice does more than provide relaxation; participants in a three-day, two-night study in the forests of Japan found an increase in many markers associated with a healthy immune system thanks to the benefits of surrounding yourself with nature. “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – Henry David Thoreau
Our health care systems are dominated by indoor Experiences. How might we take greater advantage of our outdoor spaces or find ways to bring the outside in – bringing the healing qualities of nature to our team members, providers, patients, and guests?
While our month of Being has been focused on tapping into and searching for the best in yourself and others, this week we’ll explore ways to have a mindful relationship with technology and with the future.
Thank you for Being with us this month. We hope these Sparks provide you with meaningful tools to help you slow down, Be present, and honor the greatness you have to offer your team, your organization, and the world.
As we learn more about the physical and mental benefits of mindfulness, apps such as “Calm” and “Headspace” have become incredibly popular. These apps provide techniques for mindfulness and meditation – integrating the power of smart technology with the age-old wisdom of slowing down to breathe. The apps offer guided meditations, music features, notifications and reminders, and even a timer to set how long you’d like calming sounds to play as you drift off to sleep.
These apps make Being much more accessible for anyone. In just 10 minutes, whether on our morning walk, during a quick quiet moment of respite, or over a lunch break, our phones can serve as a transportation device to settling in and Being in the present.
Download one of the apps above to Experience mindfulness. How might we take advantage of this at the ready mindfulness at the patient bedside, in our team member lounges, and in our public spaces?
The latest transportation research shows that there’s a better way for humans and cars to work in concert. While many of us fantasize about the days when our driverless cars will take us from meeting to meeting while we catch up on emails, researchers are actually pursuing a slightly different version. What if we still drove the car and when our mindfulness slipped, the car took over? The car serves as more of a guardian angel than a chauffeur. This thinking combines the most powerful states of Being from the human mind – alertness, attentiveness, and the ability to think and process – with the most advanced states of technological Being from the smart car. The two have more of a symbiotic relationship, and, in return, we arrive safely.
Exciting new technologies are being introduced every day. In what ways can we stay abreast of the best technology has to offer while also staying present, connected, and human?
The Quin Hotel decided to create an immersive guest Experience and embrace the essence of Manhattan by beginning an artist-in-residence program in the early 2000’s. Yet they didn’t just hire an artist. They hired graffiti artists to paint the walls, display their work, and interact with the guests. By taking the diverse spirit of the city into their place of work, Quin integrated what some would see as opposing forces. The results have been outstanding; artists now flock to Quin to participate as artists in residence, and in addition to living and working at Quin, the greatest benefit is guests becoming familiar with their art. (The only hitch so far was when Blek le Rat, a French stencil graffiti specialist, was nearly arrested when police saw him stenciling on a hotel door – but the misunderstanding was quickly cleared up!)
Health systems now are adopting art residency programs and expanding the concept with musicians, dancers, choreographers, and visual artists. In San Diego, music is proving to be a “soothing treatment for worn-down spirits and fatigue” at UC San Diego Health and Scripps Mercy. At New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, bedside concerts are providing comfort to ICU patients with COVID-19 who are alone in their rooms. These concerts in particular are a result of a partnership with Project: Music Heals Us, a nonprofit that organizes free classical concerts in nursing homes, hospices, prisons, homeless shelters and refugee centers. The hope is the music provides patients and team members a brief moment of respite to feel the music and simply Be.
Our places make wonderful stages for a wide array of talents and artistry to flourish. What “In Residency” programs would benefit our team or our patients? How might we identify the diverse talents and qualities within our communities and teams and invite them to be front and center?
Although Being may feel passive– just existing – it is actually an active state that we can cultivate. This week, we’re exploring how to do just that by digging into tangible activities, techniques, and processes that can better our internal state for ourselves, our teams, and our organizations. When we give ourselves the tools to Be, we give ourselves permission to imagine, create, solve, and thrive.
Mindfulness isn’t just good for our spirits; it’s good for our bodies. In this one-hour discussion from the Aspen Ideas Festival, filmmaker Perri Peltz and meditation expert and advocate Bob Roth dig into the hard science behind the practice and benefits of meditation.
As they break down the three different types of focused breathing (focused attention, open monitoring, and self-transcending), Roth identifies which areas of the brain are activated and the brain activity that occurs. The gamma, theta, and alpha-1 brain waves that result from the three different types of meditation are the root of the positive health effects of meditation such as decreased pain, a higher functioning immune system, decreased anxiety and depression, greater attention, and increased self-control. As it turns out, meditation nourishes our minds, bodies, and spirits.
What might result if we gifted our team members with time for a practice of Being? What about our patients? Let’s choose to make time for Being and make it a priority.