09:Mindfulness Can Start Now, with Jodi Strock, LMFT
Digging in about starting a mindfulness practice and the interaction of body, mind, and emotion in and out of crisis with licensed marriage and family therapist and super cool human Jodi Strock.
Many non-crucial details of emergency medical cases, like when a case happened or the age or gender of the patient, have been changed randomly to preserve patient confidentiality. As always with the Emergency Mind Podcast, the goal is not to provide medical advice or commentary on medical care, but to explore best practices and ways that we can all improve how we think during an emergency and apply knowledge under pressure. Additionally, the views expressed on the podcast are personal views and do not represent the views of the employers or organizations at which we work.
02:55—Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is an amazing book that I highly recommend. When the main character, Siddhartha, is tested throughout the book, he often says that his true ability is that he can think, he can wait, and he can fast. Absolutely worth reading.
05:08—Savasana, or corpse pose, is a pose of rest and relaxed concentration typically performed at the end of a yoga practice. More information can be found here. Jodi also talks more about it at 05:35.
07:20— For Prof. Gustavo’s discussion of maintaining calm in a difficult position, see Episode 08 at about 42:00. This is definitely something I am continuing to work on.
08:25—This is one of my favorite parts of this episode, and the way that Jodi talks about bringing mindfulness into every moment—into the small daily moments, not just the “big” moments of meditation or yoga—really strikes a chord with me. Two of my favorite authors and thinkers, Alan Watts and Seung Sahn, dig deeply into the idea that “zen mind” is “everyday mind”, not something special or different.
13:00—Here again we see the idea that mindfulness is not something “special” reserved only for dedicated practice while sitting in the lotus position. Instead, it is a daily, constant practice that over time can shape and sharpen us. Jodi suggests a great way that we can all start doing this: just turning inward and watching what arises in your body when something happens in your life. At about 15:30, she goes through an example of what this might look like when she describes her own thoughts during an accident.
17:00—This is a key idea in the Emergency Mind: your ability to respond in an emergency is proportional to your ability to understand yourself. In fact, looking within and figuring out where you have the power to act is one of the four key concepts on which The Emergency Mind is based. There is a lot of deep material on how the internal universe relates to external performance in the book I mention here, The Inner Game of Tennis.
20:45—The three-part check in that Jodi and her teacher use with their clients is an excellent introduction to on-the-spot mindfulness practice. “What is happening in my body right now? What is happening in my mind right now? What is happening with my emotions right now?” Non-judgmentally noting what is present at the moment in these three categories gives, as Jodi describes it, “the basic layout” of what is happening in the moment.
22:58—Naming our emotions or responses, “Oh, fear is here now,” and then moving on in the direction we need to be going anyway is a very powerful tool for remaining calm under pressure. Understanding, as Jodi says that “[the response or emotion] doesn’t have to be separate from the experience,” is a great example of acting where we have control. We don’t always control what our initial emotional response to an event is, but we do control our behavior as we choose how to act in the face of that event and our response to it.
24:30—Jodi’s practice of explicitly naming her emotions out loud, like “anger, frustration,” is really, really interesting, especially as a first step in the process of successfully listening to and working with your initial emotional response during a crisis. As Jodi points out at 28:50 though, the goal is not to just move past an emotion, but to understand what it is trying to tell you about your situation and your response to it. Obviously, there is a balance here between what we can explore during the acute phase of an emergency and what we need to go back and explore later when there is more time and space. I wrote a bit about this balance here in my piece about responding to difficult events in Better Humans. Jodi also gets to this idea of balance and creating space for looking inward at 31:30.
32:35—Dr. Austin’s commentary about using emotional responses to help target further education can be found here, at about 55:50
35:10—“You can start right now.” There’s no need to wait on starting a practice in mindfulness until the time is right or the situation is favorable. Wherever you are, you can meet what is happening with mindfulness – your everyday mind is the mind you need for mindfulness, and the time to start training it is now.
37:00—As a counterpoint to the preceding ideas of starting wherever you are and using mindfulness right then to open the door to deepening your understanding of yourself, Jodi’s description here of the structure and benefits of a more formal practice in mindfulness is really interesting. Her key observation – that a formal practice led her to understand and explore the difference between “I am anxious,” and “anxiety is here today” is deeply meaningful and mission central to the ideas of acting from within and sangfroid.