I've been practicing medicine in the Seattle area for two decades, and one point in 2016, I realized I was getting burned out with my job. When I first started my practice, I would come home energized and enthusiastic about my work with patients. But increasingly, I noticed a resentment building up about work. I felt trapped by my schedule, spent more energy wondering when I could get home than taking care of patients, and eventually openly complained about getting patient referrals from colleagues because they added to my workload.
While spending quality evening time for 5 weeks was a hard choice during an already busy period for me, with my spouse's encouragement I signed up for the Fundamentals of Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals course with Richard Johnson in April and May of 2016. Being in a mindfulness class with other physicians was helpful for me, as I could relate others in my shoes who were struggling to cope with the demands of our career. And I knew that if they could find time to come to class and to meditate with their busy schedules, I could too.
Richard was a wonderful teacher, and it didn't matter that he was not a physician or medical professional. In fact, it was helpful to have someone from outside of medicine to lend some perspective. I really appreciated that the course found ways to help busy doctors integrate mindfulness into their lives and practice WITHOUT taking more time out of our lives. I found that integrating subtle yoga poses into my day while at work was a great way to help reduce stress and not require more time. And as I got less stressed, I started making time for meditation, and that made the time I spent elsewhere more meaningful and productive. Even finding ten minutes in my car to meditate before driving home at the end of a long dat made a huge difference for me when I got home. I was more energetic, happy, and present for my family after meditating. And while my work days weren't any shorter, being mindful helped me feel less resentful of my time at work.
Ultimately, my family and I made the decision to move and change my practice. While it was stressful to make such a big life change, meditation and mindfulness were powerful tools to help me through that process. Now I'm working less, meditating some, and enjoying life more. Thank you, Richard and Tim.
- A Healer Healing
I felt that this program could have been specifically designed for me, exactly what I needed at this particular time in my life -- down to the word. I hesitate to throw around terms like "life-changing" but I will not be the same because of this experience. Thank you.
Both Tim and Michelle were wonderful, warm, and delightful to learn from. Not only did they deliver the course content effectively, they really led by example in their way of being throughout the course - kind, humorous, and clearly well-practiced in self-compassion themselves.
I am familiar with Tim's excellent teaching. Michelle was new to me and she was inspiring. She was masterful in the way she could bring one of us back to present moment experience when we got lost in a story; she encouraged each person to find their own answers first and then supported them with research or a model for understanding that was exactly right. Impressive.
They were an excellent team. Having co-led retreats, that can be a challenge. Beautiful and supportive interactions that spilled out into the retreat. So kind to each of us and any challenges we were having. Big emotions were also faced with compassion and also direction that kept us moving.
As a provider in the mental health realm I went into the one-day Mindfulness for Stress Resilience and Burnout Prevention course already aware of the research and best practices to prevent burnout. And yet, this training shifted my therapy practice and day to day personal awareness, serving as a much needed "reset button." I appreciate that the workshop provided a balance of new information as a context for learning, but also allowed for ample time to practice. It is clear Tim has experience with mindfulness as he models and welcomes participants into awareness of the present moment in a way that is accessible. Mindfulness can seem intimidating and elusive, but Tim has a gentle way of sharing that put me at ease. I attended this one-day training with a group of co-workers and highly recommend it, especially for those in the healing professions. It can be hard to carve out time in our busy world, but I believe it is for this very reason that I gained such value from the course both personally and professionally.
Emily Wood, MA, LMHCA, NCC
We had the pleasure of Tim Burnett speaking to our team and introducing us to the concept of mindfulness. His presentation was the perfect combination of background about the concept and active learning exercises. Many on my team expressed their thanks, and they felt it demonstrated that leadership really cared about employees because we helped them learn about this valuable stress-reducing technique. Plus, we all felt energized after our participation!
Beth S. Thompson
Senior Director, Marketing, Fortune 500 company
My whole experience with your Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class was terrific.
Probably the highlight for me was the Saturday retreat. It blew the doors off my self-created limits on how much of a day I could spend in mindfulness.
Michael Kelberer, Bellingham, WA
The Whole U offered a Mindfulness One Day Retreat on 9/26/15 led by Tim Burnett from Mindfulness Northwest in which I participated. I went for the first time last year, as a “woo woo skeptic” and returned for a second time. Tim Burnett is a knowledgeable, empathetic, respectful and insightful teacher and is able to discern and meet the diverse needs and knowledge levels of a group of people he doesn’t know and who don’t know each other. He creates a safe, comfortable, non threatening environment and makes it clear that people can participate as much or as little as they’d like. Descriptions of all practices are clear. The format of information and then silence for most of the day, and then review, works well. The setting this year at the Center for Urban Horticulture was beautiful and conducive to the retreat.
He ‘s also very good about “reading” groups and then changing the program based on that. An example of this is the group this year felt more open or receptive, and he incorporated a forgiveness meditation into the afternoon, which wasn’t done the previous year. Everyone in our (introverted) small group appreciated (but no one commented on it in the group discussion.)
Why does a person participate in a mindfulness retreat, especially the first time? Since this is sponsored by the Whole U, is it work related? Job stress? Life transitions? Curiosity? An uninterrupted Saturday? Whatever the reason, this retreat is healing and restorative in itself, and it can also be the beginning of new learning and ways of thinking. In the forgiveness practice, one of the repetitions included “As much as you are ready.” This also describes this retreat; it offers much, and a person can participate to whatever degree is comfortable for them.
Linnea Mulder, RN, UWMC
I have LOVED this course - have found it so helpful and practical in ways I had not expected. I know that long term success will come from daily meditation and incorporating it into the routine of my life; I know this will take time.
I am so grateful to both of you for your time and knowledge, and so very grateful to the other students for sharing honestly and helping me heal by relating their stories, hopes and barriers. Please pass that on to them today. I will definitely recommend this course and other mindfulness based courses to others, and also plan on attending future classes/courses when they come available.
Mindfulness has sincerely helped my commitment to sobriety and my well being. I feel encouraged and optimistic and you and Mark are a huge part of that. I wish the course was longer, or multiple times a week :) I wish I had time just to sit and have coffee with the two of you and pick your brains about meditation and mindfulness!
I could go on and on, but what I want to say is just: Thank you, Thank you.
A participant in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class in Bellingham reports:
I went to the class looking for a way to help myself with long-term problems. The problems still exist. The solutions have yet to be found. But the time spent in the class brought needed temporary relief and awakened me to the viability of a deeper peace that surprisingly can exist alongside of difficulties. That awakening was transmitted through Tim's skillful, heartfelt approach to sharing practices that are simple, accessible, and build upon themselves with commitment from the practitioner. If it is hard to figure out where to go or what to do, a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course is a great place to begin.
And Anacortes-based Massage Therapist Joe Arellano adds:
The 8 week MBSR course led by Tim Burnett provided invaluable lessons toward returning my reactive mind to a stable reset point. Further, the MBSR course was a deeply enriching experience and I was saddened to witness 8 weeks end so soon.
A participant in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class in Bellingham reports:
Just wanted to say that I felt that I got a lot out of your teachings and I feel I have a fresh perspective on life and a couple tools in my bag to help me. On a side note, one of the reasons I took the class was for severely high blood pressure…it has since dropped drastically since implementing meditation and mindfulness practice into my daily life.
Thanks so much for the workshop you presented on Saturday. The reason I participated is my job as a clinic RN has become increasingly stressful due to increased volume and decreased staff (nothing new there), to the extent that every day as soon as I get to work I feel tense, rushed, and distracted as I will only be able to get the very basics of my job done in order to provide safe care and that’s even questionable. It makes me sad as I respect and appreciate the patients and physicians I work with. I thought perhaps there might be a better way then better living through chemistry (except coffee of course) so thought I’d try your workshop, understanding that probably my life couldn’t be fixed in 7 hours.
However, in 7 hours I at least gained an awareness of breathing, of centering, of at least trying to be in the moment. When engaging with another person, I learned (though I had to ask twice), to at least think about purpose, attention, acceptance.
If I had memory retention more than that of a gnat there was much more you offered; the permission poem, for instance.
So thank you, you truly have a gift of the ability to communicate your knowledge, and it’s much appreciated.
This academic year the school of medicine faculty wellness committee sponsored five sessions of mindfulness training organized and run by Tim Burnett.
Each was a 5-week series scheduled on sequential Sunday evenings from 6-8:30 PM
with the exception of the fourth class which was a retreat held from 1-7PM in place of the regular class.
The classes were full with waiting lists from the day after they were announced. Participants paid a fee and the USOM paid the remainder.
Tim was extremely professional, well organized and easy to deal with from an administrative standpoint in addition to being a very skilled teacher of mindfulness.
The class reviews were uniformly positive with many participants signing up for more than one 5 week session. We offered both introductory and continuing mindfulness training. We provided the space, yoga mats and publicity as well as handling the registration process.
Claudia Finkelstein MDCM
UW/HMC Long Term Care Service
[contact info available on request]
I did not realize how burned out I was until I filled out the physician burnout survey just before the first MBSR class. I had been going to work and having a bad day each day, but had not made the connection that I was having a bad day every day. I really was not enjoying my job, not even the time spent with patients, which had always been the fun part of it. Within 2 weeks of starting the MBSR class, I started enjoying patient care again, and with regular meditation, the millions of little daily annoyances stopped getting to me. Recently, I stopped meditating for a few weeks and began to feel the irritation creeping back (although I am at least still enjoying my time with patients). I started meditating again and am already feeling better.
The MSBR course gave me a chance to develop stress-lowering techniques that I can incorporate into the usual course of my busy day as a resident. These methods have allowed me to provide better care for patients by being able to be more focused when I am speaking with them rather than worried about what I need to do when I leave the patient’s room.
The focus that the course has on teaching students to be present in the moment has also helped me to better separate my work life from my home life which helps me feel more focused when I am at work and better able to foster personal relationships outside of work. I believe that other residents would benefit from the techniques taught in this course.
Participating in MBSR was great in a number of ways. I am pretty good at holding “curiosity” as a cornerstone of how I approach relationships with patients. It is a helpful way to ground myself and to not wander over into the world of judgment. The MBSR course reminded me to also be gentle with myself, well more so than I usually am, to notice when something came up or a practice was challenging, but not to get judgmental about it. And at the outset, I was facing an unknown future (and really whose is not?!) with a fair amount of fear. I cannot say the course eliminated the fear but it again reminded me of the stance of curiosity, openness.
The practices are useful, especially if I were to really adopt them as practices. And regardless of how attentive I am to incorporating them in my daily life, they are there for me to have and use, and they have been useful for me since the course.
Learning and practicing the various techniques will be really helpful for my work with patients and others who I advise.
Our King County Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes for employees enrolled in the Healthy Incentives program are starting to come to a close. Here are a few notes from attendees:
- I very much appreciated the past 8 weeks of the MBSR offered by Kurt Hoelting and Janice Sack-Ory. They were both very effective with unique styles. Mindfulness practice is now an important daily practice which I am convinced will benefit my overall health.
- Thanks to you also for the poems; very effective.
- My practice increased as we moved thru the class. It is still difficult at times to find the time to practice, but it’s worth it. Great class & instructors; would like to continue.
- The deliberate slow tempo of all of the activities is an obvious cue that his environment [MBSR class] is different, and restful.
- The class was great. I feel that it helped me a lot and I notice the change in my mindset at work. I hope this class is offered again so that more King County employees can take it.