Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 11 - Page 6

This month we were fortunate to have Tiffany Spanier , MD , discussing mindfulness for our fourth and final webinar for our Wellness Webinar Wednesday series . Dr . Spanier is a practicing pediatrician in California and has been teaching mindfulness to other physicians and physician groups for several years . During her webinar this month , she discussed what mindfulness is , evaluated the usefulness of mindfulness , and helped us begin to create a personal toolkit of mindfulness techniques and how to utilize these techniques to build resources and modify stress levels preventatively and in the moment .

Dr . Spanier discussed the things she teaches in her mindfulness classes , including living in the moment , beginning or continuing a path of self-reflection , discovering your inner wisdom and enhancing one ’ s ability to be calm and stay connected .
Mindful . org explains mindfulness as “ the basic human ability to be fully present , aware of where we are and what we ’ re doing and not overly reactive or become overwhelmed by what ’ s going on around us . While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess , it ’ s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis . Whenever you bring awareness to what you ’ re directly experiencing via your senses , or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions , you ’ re being mindful .” 1
Over the past couple of years , I have been learning about and practicing mindfulness . It is easy to get distracted , lost in thought or lose focus with the various interruptions that occur throughout the day . To stay in a mindful state , I have utilized various strategies to implement mindfulness in my daily routine . One such strategy is preparing my mind for the day when I arrive at work . Before I go into the office , I sit in the parking lot and remind myself that I am there to serve , and that I will use walking through doorways as ongoing reminders of this purpose throughout the day . Each time I walk through a doorway , I use that as a trigger to remind me to be mindful .
I have found that being more mindful during patient interactions has been very beneficial for the patients and myself . Since I have been more present with patients and their concerns , worries , anxieties and fears , I have been better able to help alleviate their fears and more readily and easily navigate the visit . This helps create a great patient experience in which they feel they have received excellent , compassionate care .
Another strategy that has helped me to develop and maintain mindfulness is meditation . In an article in The Irish Journal of Scientific Medicine , titled “ The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19 ” C . Behan explains , “ While

MINDFULNESS there are many forms of meditation and mindfulness , of particular interest to healthcare professionals are those with an evidence base such as mindfulness-based stress reduction ( MBSR ). Systematic reviews of such practices have shown improvements in measures of anxiety , depression and pain scores . Structural and functional brain changes have been demonstrated in the brains of people with a long-term traditional meditation practice , and in people who have completed a MBSR programme .” 2

I pursued a better understanding on meditation and took a course on transcendental meditation , which gave me a deeper understanding of the practice of meditation . I have been experimenting with various other forms of meditation to discover which will best suit me .
I have also used the breathing exercise , the Wim Hof Method , as part of my morning routine before I exercise to get fully awake , alert and to get oxygen flowing to my brain and body . Practicing this breathing exercise has also helped me learn to better focus on my breathing during meditation and throughout the day . For anyone not familiar with Wim Hof , aka the “ Ice Man ,” I recommend checking out his story on YouTube or his TedTalks .
Meditation has been a part of peoples lives around the globe for thousands of years and in the last century has come to be a common and important part of the lives of many Americans . Meditation is a part of mindfulness . C . Behan further states , “ Meditation comes under the umbrella of ‘ mindfulness ’ which is a broader concept . Formal meditation practices include mindfulness of breathing , compassion or loving kindness-focused meditation , the use of mantras or phrases as the focus for meditation , amongst many others .” 2
Physicians in today ’ s world have had an increasing number of pressures that have pushed many of us into states of burnout . We have used our Wellness Webinar Series over the past four months to focus on getting out of the state of burnout and to move into healthier states of living and practicing medicine . It is up to each of us to do our part in bettering ourselves and helping those around us to improve their well-being . For that purpose , if you are not already engaged in learning about and practicing mindfulness , I highly recommend you check it out . If you already engage in the practice of mindfulness , I
suggest encouraging your colleagues , family and friends .
1 . https :// www . mindful . org / meditation / mindfulness-getting-started /
2 . Behan C . ( 2020 ). The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19 . Irish journal of psychological medicine , 37 ( 4 ), 256 – 258 . https :// doi . org / 10.1017 / ipm . 2020.38
Dr . Sosnin practices primary care and is the Center Medical Director at JenCare Newburg .