What is mindfulness anyway?

Mindfull vs Mindfulness

With increasing frequency over the past decade, mindfulness has crept into our vernacular in a way that may feel difficult to ignore. With so many people pushing mindfulness as an effective coping mechanism, mindfulness has a lot of pressure to be the “it” solution to stress and symptoms of burnout and/or empathy fatigue. In order to avoid thinking of mindfulness as a “has-been” in the self-care movement, let’s take a moment to look at why mindfulness is so buzzworthy.

Dr. Leah Weiss, PhD describes mindfulness as the intentional use of our attention to what is happening in the present moment. When we have the availability to focus our attention on the here and now, we are better able to choose the response that is most appropriate to the situation. For a lot of us, this is a different way of interacting and responding- particularly in a stressful situation. When we can be in the present moment, or even mindfully recognize a missed opportunity in hindsight, we afford ourselves the opportunity to make avail what I call our IPPM- Identify, Process, Problem Solve and Move Forward vs. ruminating on what we did wrong, how we acted or how someone acted towards us.

The reality is that rumination has never solved a thing! In fact, rumination does the opposite of what we can accomplish with mindfulness. Rumination creates a false sense of doing through the instant gratification of going over and over and over the event. Without mindfulness that we are ruminating, for example, we lessen our availability to problem solve and move forward. It is in this process of being mindful and choosing an alternative response that we learn to grow now or into the future.

According to data from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 AVMA Census of Veterinarians surveys, 50.2% of respondents were classified as having high burnout scores. Although this data is hard to ignore, the availability of finding resources to help mitigate these factors can be overwhelming and, therefore, prohibitive. Prohibitive, not impossible.

One such resource, which started me on my journey towards wellness education and coaching, is the Compassion Institutes Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™). Developed by Thupten Jinpa, PhD through Stanford University and in collaboration with founding faculty of the course, CCT™ is an 8-week program for the general public that draws on insights and techniques from psychology, neuroscience, and contemplative practice. The course integrates evidence-based meditation techniques, interactive discussions, and lectures as well as real-world exercises to put learning into practice. CCT™ is taught worldwide and offers practical skills, tools, and knowledge. As a graduate, you establish the habit of relating to yourself, others, and the world around you from a place of greater understanding, joy, and purpose.

At Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists, we are dedicated to the health and wellness of our patients, our clients and our staff. In addition, we are also dedicated to helping support our colleagues and family practices throughout Northern Colorado. Feel free to send an email to [email protected] for more information or call us at (970) 800-1106 and ask for our Leader of Wellness and Culture, Amanda D. Mahoney.

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