A moment of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has become an intrinsic part of nurturing mental health for many people. UHB Charity recognises the need for a few moments to sit and reflect in a hard day’s work. NHS staff work tirelessly day in, day out, caring for others. But who cares for them? It is vital NHS staff are given the opportunity to look after themselves and that is why the Charity has funded mindfulness sessions for staff members. Amongst others, these sessions have being taking place on Critical Care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
These sessions have been conducted by Mahasiddhi and John Roberts, two Buddhist Chaplains at the Queen Elizabeth, and have been delivering mindfulness sessions to staff members for five years.
Mindfulness is derived from the Buddhist practice, however anyone can benefit from these sessions. Mahasiddhi told us that “one of the meditations we do is called the Metta Bhavana, which just means the cultivation of loving kindness. It’s the quality of loving kindness that is unconditional that you are cultivating for all people.” For this, you start with showing loving kindness to yourself, then to show loving kindness to a friend, then towards a neutral person and finally until you are able to show loving kindness to someone you find difficult.
Mahasiddhi explained that “behind the closed doors of the closed eyes our minds are firing off, shooting off, the emotions are being pulled in, we’re thinking about tomorrow, thinking about yesterday, we hurt here, we’re worried by that, we’re looking forward to this. It’s a busy busy time. What to expect is to sit quietly, let all that go on. You want to produce a bit of distance between your thoughts and your self, instead of jumping on them and becoming them. Really being routed and not forgetting we have a body – without the body we wouldn’t have a mind.”
The benefits of mindfulness sessions can vary from individual to individual, but often include being calmer, more reflective, as well as being less prone to jumping into action. What is so vital about mindfulness is what is learnt and experienced in these sessions can be incorporated into daily life.
Although mindfulness is a great resource for everyone, NHS staff particularly benefit from this practice, since they are amongst a group of people who always put others before themselves. Therefore, these mindfulness sessions are just a small amount of time in a hectic day for themselves, as Katt, a Trainee Nursing Associate on Critical Care, expressed: “At the NHS everyone is always really busy, and sometimes it's just that half an hour that you can dedicate to being in the present, not thinking about anyone else. We are always caring for others, and sometimes we can’t care for someone until we care for ourselves first.”
The Charity is extremely proud to have funded these sessions, especially with Mahasiddhi remarking “I don’t think we could have had anything like the penetration that we’ve been able to achieve with staff without charities.” Mindfulness is a practice that has benefitted numerous wards, making a lasting difference on those who have attended the sessions.