Category: Living

V38: Being Exemplars


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.

Carry Being in Your Pocket

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. Plus in response to the increased stress and anxiety of COVID-19, Headspace has offered all US health care professionals free access to their Headspace Plus through the end of 2020.

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?

Be With The Art

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?

V37: Being here. Being there. Being Everywhere

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!

Being vs. Doing

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?

Take a Forest Bath

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?

V36: Just Being

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.

What Happens When We Meditate?

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 would result if we gifted our team members with the time for this practice of being? What about our patients? Think you don’t have the time? You do if you make it – it is a choice.

We All Need a Little Blank Space

Designers have a solution for our crazed and overwhelming work schedules: blank space. In design, “blank space,” or negative space, is the purposeful contrast to the art that’s within the piece. Aimed to balance the color, shapes, or movement in design, blank space creates Intention and order — both elements we could use a little more of in our day-to-day lives. So how might this be applied to our schedules? Adding blank space, or intentional empty periods of time into our schedules, can increase our creativity, happiness, and productivity. The unstructured time can be used to do things such as sitting quietly, sitting outside in nature, drawing, meditating, going for a walk, doing a mini-workout, or taking a power nap. This reset for our brains, while seemingly against our traditional ways of thinking about productivity, allows for flow and balance to guide our week instead of dysfunction and stress.

Schedule a “meeting” this week and instead of meeting, give everyone the time as white space. Discuss how your team feels when they are suddenly gifted with time to be.

Put on Your Spanx

One might be surprised to hear lawyer-turned-stress-and-resilience-coach Paula Davis-Laack’s number one piece of advice when speaking with dissatisfied professionals: put on your Spanx for work. Metaphorically, of course. Davis-Laack uses Spanx as a metaphor for how we can reshape certain aspects of our jobs to better utilize our personal passions and strengths. While the act of job crafting may seem elusive to many of us, there are clear steps we can take to reshape our job to fit each of us as individual leaders.

First, take a strengths assessment to understand what you do well. Pick one to two strengths to focus on integrating more fully into work. Next, list out the job demands (the parts of your job that consistently take great effort and energy) and job resources (the parts of your job that give you a sense of meaning). Make sure to include more resources than demands. Finally, use what you learned from the first two activities to create your job-crafting plan. Map out what changes you’re going to make over a four-week period to ensure that you’re not only showing off your most valuable assets and strengths, but also making yourself feel empowered while doing so.

It’s possible that within our organizations there are team members whose strengths aren’t being utilized. How can we reshape their positions to take advantage of their natural state of being to benefit our teams, our patients, and our guests?