What if there was a placebo that would make your practice easier, safer and more engaged? It would make you feel good about what you do and about yourself. It would let your patients feel deeply the care that you provide.
You see it daily, it’s the mind-body connection.
You know it exists. And it seems complicated … and yet simple.
But there’s one that threads through most mindbodyspirit science. It’s mindfulness.
There are different mindfulness gurus, mechanisms and practices.
Mindfulness has many forms. It is evidence based and is known to positively impact well-being.
Mindfulness’ origins range from Buddhism to western psychology. It’s applied in education, medicine, economics, business, law and the arts. It’s most known in mindfulness meditation and cognitive/behavioral therapy.
But it’s the findings from non-meditation mindfulness research that provides the foundation for much of the mind-body connection knowledge.
Non-meditation mindfulness comes from Ellen Langer’s 30 years of research in psychology. She is known as the “mother of mindfulness”. Her definition of non-meditation mindfulness is the simple act of noticing things.
Non-meditative mindfulness is actively noticing new things, looking for new things, looking at things differently, actively searching for subtleties.
This is a simple, practical approach and is available to all of us. Mindfulness is activated simply by noticing things. And there’s no formula for noticing things.
This can have a wide appeal and application for nurses. This practice can be easily achieved. There is no training, no steps to learn. You don’t have to sit still. It can be done while you’re working, relaxing or resting. It can be done anywhere, anytime, 24/7.
According to Langer, mindfulness is the antidote to mindlessness.
The state of mindlessness is where mistakes are made, where negative thoughts swell, and where we are perceived as being cut off. And most notably, mindlessness consumes more energy. When we are in a state of mindlessness, our preconceived notions and judgments seep into our behaviors and it shows.
When we are mindful, aware of our surroundings, we become stimulated and interested in what we are doing. We relinquish preconceived mindsets and we act on new observations. This generates energy. This changes our behaviors and feelings, and it is evident to others, they feel it.
Being mindful does not mean focusing on your present stream of thoughts with the intention of changing those thoughts. This can lead to self judgment.
This mindfulness involves just opening yourselves to the environment at hand. It can be as simple as noticing a person’s pajamas or scrubs, the color of a pill or a blanket, a sound, etc. It’s just being aware of what’s going on around you. It pulls you out of yourself. And you become more receptive to the colors and vibes around you.
How can this help you? As you know, it’s not the placebo that makes us feel better, it’s the mindset we adopt when we take the placebo.
And this simple act, the simple process of noticing shifts our thoughts, brings us into the now. We become present. The act of noticing is the placebo and the mind shift is the effect.
This mind shift brings lowered blood pressure, deeper breaths, smiles, more engagement and more satisfaction.
This is a placebo that nurses can take.
(Langer, E. (2014). Mindfulness; 25th anniversary edition; The Mindfulness Chronicles. Harvard Magazine, Sept-Oct 2010)