Send your mind on a holiday with mindfulness sessions

Blacktown Hospital Workforce training coordinator David Johnson.

Are you feeling anxious, stressed or frustrated often? How long does this usually last?

We face challenging situations every day and feeling down is normal. But what if there was a tool to help you relax and let go?

Workforce training coordinator David Johnson started running daily mindfulness classes for staff in Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals five weeks ago, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mindfulness sessions coach has witnessed some incredible transformations since then with more than 250 eager meditator sessions.

“Some of my regular attendees say they feel like floating in the air after the meditation. They came very reluctantly in the beginning, but now they love it! They come every day and even started practising on their own!” David said.

“Mindfulness is one of many kinds of meditation. I find it the most useful for people working under pressure. With just 10 to 20 minutes a day, you learn to take control of your emotions and detach from stress.”

Building a superpower

So how does meditation work?

When overwhelmed, your body goes into survival mode and starts producing cortisol – the stress hormone. Your immune system switches off and all resources go into fighting the invisible enemy.  You can’t keep going like this for too long.

Meditation helps your body produce oxytocin – the ‘happy hormone,’ opposite to cortisol. This allows you to harness the stress energy outburst and channel it into something useful – collaboration, creativeness or learning.

“Anger and anxiousness very soon become useless emotions,” David said. “You can’t learn to never be angry again, but you can train yourself to cut the time you’re out of balance to the minimum. It’s like a superpower!”

When you start practising, the most common difficulty is to detach from your thoughts. The point is not to reject them, but to acknowledge their presence and let go.

“Your brain is extremely powerful,” David said. “It’s like a big bull in the rodeo field.”

“Meditation is like a tiny string attached to the bull’s nose ring, and when you gently pull it back, in time, the bull will learn to calmly sit next to you and won’t run off. It’s very rewarding, being a master of your own mind.”

The more often you meditate, the easier and quicker you relax. 

David said he was previously afraid of public speaking. But when offered to conduct induction training for new Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) employees, he took the challenge.

Now with his meditation skills to channel stress into positive energy, he loves presenting in front of a large audience.

A wellness meditation session is underway.

Mental health and other drugs professional, Thato Jarczyk had tried different types of meditation and recently attended her first mindfulness session with David.

“My work can be very stressful at times,” Thato said. “I feel like I need to make some time for my own emotional wellbeing, and I’m happy we have access to mindfulness meditations.”

“Thoughts were running through my mind, but I still feel relaxed. I’m keen to keep practising.”

Staff mindfulness sessions take place in all hospitals across the WSLHD. For more information, check the WSLHD intranet page or see purple colour Workplace Wellness information counters in your facility.

Each session takes 10-15 minutes and is limited to eight participants due to COVID-19 restrictions.