Sustainable Caring

Episode 18 February 15, 2021 00:23:02
Sustainable Caring
More Happiness Less Suffering
Sustainable Caring

Show Notes

Some of our most challenging and most meaningful moments often arise while caring for others. Whether you are a physician, nurse, mental health professional, teacher, parent, or supporting an aging family member, caring for others becomes an opportunity to develop resilience and make meaning out of our most human, vulnerable interactions. But how do we find the beauty that often lays hidden amidst the stress of caring?

Join Dr. Monisha Vasa and Cayce Howe as we discuss ways to create "Sustainability Caring".

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight. Speaker 1 00:00:07 And I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange County, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Well, welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast as always. We are so grateful to have you here with us. Um, we always love spending time with you and today it's actually going to be Casey and I, and we're going to be talking about a topic that is near and dear to both of our hearts, which is that of burnout. Um, and I think this is a big one right now because it's obviously something that both of us have struggled with, um, on and off over the years. And also of course, in my, in my work with, uh, physicians, something that I'm seeing quite a lot of right now. Um, so we're going to talk a little bit about burnout and it'd be how we personally handle it. Um, and also talk a little bit about a project that has been brewing for the last year or so, um, that we're excited to finally launch and share with all of you Speaker 0 00:01:28 The project that's consumed our life for like eight months. Yeah, yeah. Speaker 1 00:01:34 True. Yeah, because we are passionate about it. Yeah. So, and, but as always, we want to start with a poem and, um, this is actually a poem that I wrote that kind of references, you know, maybe some of my own experiences of burnout, which I think are closely tied, I would say to themes of grief and loss, and also walking beside my patients during this time as well. And so, um, it's when I recently shared on my Instagram that actually Casey, you're going to read. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:02:14 So many words I wanted to say stuck in my body, unfinished sentences about how hard it has been for each and every one of us, all the loss, the grief, a darkness with no end. And yet somehow we keep going, we start a new story, we breathe a new breath. We find a new moment. We reach out and someone somewhere reaches back to touch us. This is not a poem with a happy ending, a beautiful rhyme, just the right syllables. This is me calling out. Do you, me sometimes reminding you, and I'm here with you in the sorrow of the ending and the messy hope of beginning, may our shared tears, rain, healing, water on your wound, my wound, our ruined. Speaker 1 00:03:22 Thank you. Speaker 0 00:03:23 Yeah, it was beautiful. Yeah. Um, yeah, there's some, there's so much in that. Um, and kind of speaking to now to burnout, it's so broad. No, I think we had, uh, we had Dr. Gregory on here and she was speaking to a burnout as well and talking about how our careers feel it like last, you know, like burnout, it's kind of like, we suck it up for their career. Like we have to do it, but then, you know, we take it out on the family or, you know, other parts of our life, like, you know, I find with myself if I'm feeling some, some burnout, uh, it's actually the things that helped me the most that start to fall off the first, like, you know, I've kind of worked with it long enough, so I recognize it, but I'll be like, well, I'm not going to go for a run today cause I have stuff to do, you know? Um, and I'm really good about my meditations, but there's definitely been times when that would be, yeah. I don't have time to meditate. I don't have time to go for a run. I don't have time to, you know, spend time with the family. Like I got work, you know, to do or something like that. Um, so it's interesting. The things that can help us are the things that are the first to fall off sometimes. Speaker 1 00:04:53 Yeah. And I think it's such a tricky, um, cause and effect kind of scenario, you know, which is, you know, are we, are we starting to feel more and more burnt out because we don't have the capacity to do the things that restore and rejuvenate us and that, you know, is what leads to the experience of burnout or does the experience of burnout actually make us feel like we don't have the bandwidth to do the things that we love, you know? And usually we kind of get stuck somewhere in that kind of a cycle where I think it ends up being sort of a chicken and egg kind of scenario. Um, in fact, I was on the phone yesterday with a friend of mine. Who's a physician and you know, she was saying that she's like, I don't know if this is burnout. I don't know if it's depression. Speaker 1 00:05:41 I don't know if it's anxiety, you know, but there was kind of the sense of it being all pervasive. Like she wasn't enjoying her work the way that she used to, but then at home she was like, I also just feel like I can barely peel myself the couch enough to do what I need to do for my kids. And, you know, we were talking about how it becomes such a slippery slope of knowing, you know, when burnout has just sort of taken over all aspects of our life and become all pervasive or when it's actually become a trigger for underlying depression or anxiety. Um, and so it can be really unclear and it can be, I think even more unclear when you're in the midst of it, you know, because it becomes so difficult to, to, to separate out those pieces. Especially if somebody has a history of depression or anxiety, it becomes even more, more messy, more unclear. Speaker 1 00:06:41 And I think in this time, especially with, with COVID and you know, you and I are both seeing that, you know, it's a time when all of us need additional support, you know, it's like where everybody is struggling with, um, some, you know, some stress or some impact from COVID. And so, you know, whether it's doctors and nurses who are on the front lines or those of us who are in the helping professions where we're there to support, you know, those, those frontline workers, everybody is sort of reaching their limits. And, you know, the question is what do you do to find some sense of balance or to keep your capacity to care restored when you're dealing with a struggle or a situation that feels completely out of your control. Speaker 0 00:07:31 Yeah, exactly. And you know, like you mentioned reaching their limits, you know, and, and I think that's where there's a lot of room for us to, to be with these things because externally there's a lot of limits and external reality, there's physical limits. There's there's time limits. Um, it's a world of love limitations, and yet inwardly, there's no limits, you know, speak of the no limits of love and compassion and no limits of awareness. And I had a really fun, interesting chat with, uh, a friend of mine who is a monk he's in the UK and he's been a monastic now for, uh, three and a half years. He's a PICU and the Teravata tradition. And, um, he had just super well, super, uh, you know, humble, humble, beautiful person. And, and we're talking about like desire and mind clutter, you know, and he's like, here I am. Speaker 0 00:08:34 And he sends me these pictures and he's, it's like a, it's like a heaven realm, you know, like where he is in this gorgeous monastery. And like the sunlight is coming through and he's, he's sipping his tea and, and, you know, on the, on the outside it looks divine, you know? And, um, and inwardly is difficult. You know, it's a really difficult life, um, to, to lead inwardly because there's just, there's nothing to grab on to. And there's very little external stimulus. Um, he knows like some of us struggle because we have too much, some struggle cause we don't have enough and this is, this is like monetary stuff, but it's also like the mind when the mind is left alone, when it with itself, um, it doesn't have any distraction and we could see clearly the mind clutter and, you know, he was talking about how desire mind still comes up, craving mind, just craving for simple things like, Oh man, he's like, cause he used to live here and he's like, man, I just want to go to Jamba juice. Speaker 0 00:09:39 He's like, I just want to go, I just want to go do what I want because he really can't, you know, like have the freedom and Annie knows that there's no, you know, that's not that long-term happiness, you know, and, and his sight, the diluted mind that says, you know, when I get this, I'm going to be that, you know, happy when I get that or when I get the free time or when I, when, when this happens and, and he has to make space within his own mind that it's here, you know, like he has to find that there where he is, you know, cause if he takes his mind like him and I were talking, if he takes, we take whatever mind do we have, we take it anywhere. Then that's our mind. That's what we're, that's what we're with. You know, if we're at the top of a mountain and it's peaceful up there. Speaker 0 00:10:26 Yeah. But it's, but we have our own mind then if we're in the chaos of Jon Kabat, Zinn beautifully says a full catastrophe, you know, living, if we had the full catastrophe, full catastrophe, we have, um, you know, the, the job, the family and you know, all this stuff. But how has the mind, you know, is the mind at ease and is a mind full of clutter? Oh, is it was a mind and chaos and you know, that's, you know, speaking of the course that we put together, it's not an infomercial info, Marsha infomercial. Um, I can't speak today. Um, yeah, but you know, the, the, the course that's kind of how we tackled it is that accessing inner resource tools, we can't change this life is not going to slow down and, and all the pointers say that it's, it's opposite, it's speeding up. Speaker 0 00:11:23 And there's more data, more things to do. It's a quicker paced world these days. We don't have to be though. We don't have to be inwardly racing around. We could have a spaciousness in our mind, we can meet it with expansiveness, um, with the right tools. And that's what we cover. Um, it could be of course some mindfulness stuff, but that's really just a, that's just a beginning is to be and aware of how the mind is and how it's meeting and reacting to these things. But then the real meat of it is what do we do now when we move into, you know, nurturing new habits and, and compassion stuff and, and all of that, to really nurture that spaciousness that's innate in our minds. Speaker 1 00:12:14 Absolutely. And I feel like one of the reasons that's so important is, you know, even though of course I went through medical school, I went through residency, you know, trained in how to be a, you know, become a psychiatrist. I feel like we don't necessarily get a lot of training and how to actually maybe sit with the types of suffering that we're being exposed to currently, like in the current, you know, COVID crisis. And so, you know, that was, I think one of the other things that we really tried to talk about in this course is, you know, one of the, one of the sort of core reasons that we burn out is when we, um, you know, are, are in a position of, of being with suffering in a way that we don't quite know how to handle or how to, um, sit with that type of suffering, you know, whether it's the suffering of, you know, losing a patient or a family member who's struggling, or just the suffering that, you know, in the acknowledgement of how much is really out of our control. Speaker 1 00:13:15 Um, you know, of course we, we want, especially as doctors, we want to be able to fix things. We want to be able to make them better. That's why many of us went into these professions, but at the end of the day, you know, so much is out of our control. So many variables that impact, you know, that, that end result or outcome. And so, you know, I think part of what we wanted to do with, you know, this course that, you know, we, we call it sustainable caring is to really investigate, like how do we increase our capacity to, to sit with suffering? You know, whether it's our own suffering or the suffering of other people and how to really be with that in a meaningful way, um, without finding ourselves getting lost in it. Speaker 0 00:14:00 Yeah. And that includes the overwhelm, you know, like we like to talk about where it's even when we, when we can't access to tools, even how we hold that is so important, you know, because, you know, we were definitely big on not saying, Hey, you should be able to handle all that. Right. Even, even with these tools, you know, mindfulness, self-compassion all these really beautiful tools, tools that can assist us. We can't always access those, you know, and even when we're in those places, there is a way to hold that. Like there's a way to, to be with that without, um, they can Buddhism say the suffering of suffering, like there's suffering on top of there's a suffering of suffering and, and we could add a lot to it. And a lot of that is I should be able to handle this or others would be handling it better, or I used to handle it better and now I can't handle it, or what if I continue to not be able to handle it. And like all of the, like in the fee, in the future, like we start futuring, um, catastrophizing kind of adding suffering on top of suffering, you know, but instead can we have the capacity to say this sucks and, and I'm okay with that. Like, I'm okay. Not being okay. You know, that kind of been popping the popularized or whatever, and be okay, that'd be okay, which is, it has to, it has merit. Right. Um, yeah. How do we hold that without, without judging ourselves and, and adding more to it? Speaker 1 00:15:45 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think even though that has been popularized, as you say, being okay with not being okay, I think still on a day-to-day basis, we struggle to practice that, you know? And so I think the more that we can continue reminding ourselves and each other, you know, this is a difficult moment. This is a difficult situation, you know, there is suffering here and it's okay to feel that it's okay if you don't, you know, feel like you can immediately bounce back or be, you know, amazingly resilient, you know, two minutes after this traumatic scenario has unfolded, you know, and really sort of getting comfortable with bringing our humanness to everything that we do. Um, I think that becomes a really powerful tool and I think it becomes even more powerful because when we give ourselves permission to feel, however it is that we feel in response to what we're experiencing, we give those around us permission to experience what they're feeling as well. They also realize that they can, um, feel how they feel, you know, the entire spectrum of human emotion and, and that's okay. Speaker 1 00:16:55 So our, our course, yeah, it's called sustainable caring. Um, we hope you check it out. Um, it's really focused on burnout prevention and resilience. It's not just for, you know, healthcare professionals or therapists for those of us who care about anything, really, you know, many of us are caring for aging parents or children or teenagers, even if it's your work that you just want to be sustainable and how you care about your work. Um, we all care about something. Um, so it's all digital. You can do it from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. Um, multimedia in nature. So, you know, guided meditations videos, text, journaling prompts, homework quizzes, um, but really the goal is, um, you know, for Speaker 0 00:17:50 It to be a tool to enhance all of our capacity to, um, navigate all the things that we navigate on a day-to-day basis, when, you know, we're, we're trying to be sustainable and in the things that we care about and how we care. Yeah. And that's, um, as sustainable, you can check that out. Uh, if you're a therapist, if you're a clinician, uh, we have a clinician only version and it is, um, it does offer CE use so you can get 15 CPU's um, if you're a therapist and yeah, yeah. Definitely check it out and reach out to us if you have any questions as well. Um, our information is on there. Yeah. We'd love to hear about you from you. Yeah. And about you exactly. Hold that. So yeah. We're going to end with a meditation. Like we, like we usually do. So if you could join us, that would be fantastic. So yeah, just coming into a nice posture that is alert and at ease, and we're speaking of, of burnout and compassion for ourselves, we all want to find more happiness and less suffering. And maybe just for a few moments, just connect with that, that real simple, basic idea. And then I do not wish to suffer and see that as compassion, arising that as you connect with that and make that more part Speaker 2 00:20:05 Of your integrated being maybe seen how you would act from that place Speaker 0 00:20:20 And especially taking care of the heart, mind, Speaker 2 00:20:34 Wanting your inner life to be calm, serene, find a sense of tranquility Speaker 0 00:20:48 And equanimity. Hmm. So simply being with what is exactly how it is not needing it to change in any way, not manipulating it, not wanting it to be different. Give these few moments. And Cindy now though, sincere wish that all beings everywhere, may they all find sustainable and reliable sources of contentment and happiness. May all beings everywhere, be happy and free from suffering.

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