Mindful moments at Lancaster General Health
Mary LeVasseur | 08.23.13
“Beyond bringing individual [contemplative] practices into the organizational
context, [we are] cultivating organizational methods and processes that create a
mindful, present, authentic, focused, honest, and listening organization
that is more effective in achieving its mission.”
-- Simon Greer, Jobs With Justice
The Mindful Moments program is a volunteer based initiative offering 15 minute meditative breaks for Lancaster General Health employees to promote mindfulness through out the organization.
Mindfulness is paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and sensations you are experiencing without judgment.
Our goal was to create various times and places for people to give themselves a few moments to pause, take a breath, and refocus.
One definition of mindfulness is paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and sensations you are experiencing moment by moment without judgment. Jon Kabat-Zinn a leader in mindfulness practices, developed the mindfulness based stress reduction program (MBSR) in 1979 and since that time has worked to align mindfulness and medicine.
The Mindful Guide program at Lancaster General Health was developed by Mary LeVasseur, Edward Purzycki PhD and Christopher J Peterson, M.D. and trains people to facilitate these 15 minute sessions in their own departments; during their breaks, lunches, before or after work.
Research has shown that health care providers participating in mindfulness-based programs demonstrate increased positively, self-compassion, life satisfaction empathy and optimism.
The guides participate in a two-hour experiential training reviewing attitudes of mindfulness, recommendations on how to lead a mindful moment session and practical aspects to communicating and promoting the sessions. The only prerequisite to being a mindful guide is a willingness to take fifteen minutes a week to gather people together to breathe. Over fifty Lancaster General Health employees have taken the mindful guide training and currently there are five locations running weekly programs.
The meditative breaks for Lancaster General Health employees promotes mindfulness through out the organization.
Different guides lead their sessions differently, from people who use guided meditation to others who incorporate movement or music. Initially when I started developing the program, I spent hours writing guided meditations, researching music and developing mini “meditainment” sessions. Chris pointed out that we do not have to put on a show or entertain anyone, just simply create the environment for people to gather, pause and breathe.
There is no one-way to lead a mindful moment. We provide instruction on basic theory, but individuals can lead the session in the format that is most familiar and comfortable to them. A typical session includes brining people together to pause, settle into a chair, floor or cushion, direct attention to the breath, and as you become aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations, gently bring your awareness back to the breath.
Many people through out the organization have practiced mindfulness or other complementary therapies for years, this program is simply the vehicle to continue to expand and expose others to those benefits.
I practice incorporating mindfulness into my every day life. I have always preferred movement meditation such as tai chi or qigong but typically spend ten minutes before I walk into work in meditation outside. Even in the winter, taking a few moments to face the sun, take some deep breathes helps prepare me for the day. I also take “breathing breaks” through out the day to help me refocus. There are phone apps to remind you to “check in” with yourself or you can use your daily experiences such as the ding of a new email, a red light, incoming text or phone call, can all be shifted from points of interruption to natural cues reminding you to deepen your breathe for a moment.