Dec 16, 2020

How Zen Caregiving Project sessions have helped me in my work

Zen Caregiving Project has been running free online sessions to support our wider community throughout the pandemic. In these sessions, we’ve shared our mindfulness-based approach to managing difficult emotions, coping with loss, cultivating compassion, and accepting things as they are. These sessions have touched people in different ways. Joan attended 10 sessions and below she shares how the sessions have helped her.

Joan’s story

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and have worked for Hospice of Wichita Falls in Texas for the past eight years, with the last three years being in the Bereavement Department. My role involves working with people who have lost a loved one, and helping them process and work with their grief. 

In such emotionally charged work, I know that I am susceptible to compassion fatigue. Being able to support others when they are suffering is an honor but it can also be emotionally tiring. I know that there is a very fine line between compassion fatigue and burnout, and I often walk that line. 

ZCPs sessions have helped me recognize the importance of practicing regular self-care, and that it is necessary for me to look after myself in order to take care of my patients, my family and my colleagues. As a counsellor I do know that self-care is important but I don’t have a lot of people advocating and affirming that it is necessary for me to do on a regular basis. And with my busy job, with lots of multitasking: sending emails, phone-calls, counseling clients and families, it’s easy to say to myself “I’ll do one more thing, just one more, and one more” and never stop. The sessions from ZCP have taught me about the benefits of even little moments of mindfulness, stopping in the middle of the business of the day and saying “OK Joan, sit back and take three deep breaths”. Or practicing a one minute meditation with my hand on my heart.  

And if there are evenings that I finish work and I am still really wound up or have “monkey mind” (as Roy refers to it), that’s when I will go and re-watch a recording of one of the sessions, which are posted on the ZCP website, and I feel more grounded and calm.

What I’ve learned in the sessions I’m using at work too.  I am slowly introducing mindfulness techniques to a weekly grief group I run on zoom. Many of the people that attend the group are widows who have been “doing, doing, doing” all their lives so it is not in their nature to slow down and take time for themselves. But when they do, when they breathe and have the space to listen to their heart, the tears come, and I am there to let them know that it is OK, and that crying is natural and healthy.

I had known some of these mindfulness techniques from doing mindfulness years ago, but if you don’t have someone reminding you about them regularly you forget them. Having these sessions has helped me remember ways to share mindfulness as well as learn new techniques and practices.

I am deeply grateful for the ZCP sessions and appreciate the team so much. I feel a strong sense of community with ZCP and those that attend the session and feel so supported by what ZCP offers. The way I look at it, ZCP supports me so that I can continue my work supporting and helping others. What a nice way to share and support each other as a community.

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