The interview from last year resonates with me as a whirlwind of emotions, weaving together moments of insight, humour, challenges, and risks. Looking back, it was like the bold act of an unsuspecting child knocking on the door of an ogre’s castle. The slumbering giant wakes up and consumes the audacious child, yet in doing so, the once seemingly impenetrable castle door swings open. Facing the giants of bureaucracy and politics may have come at a personal cost, but the subsequent influx of much-needed investment and oversight into my organisation honours the purpose behind it all.
So, what lies ahead in this continuing journey? With the shift from a clinical role to a managerial position no longer necessary, I find myself free to refocus on the core purpose that brought me here: compassion as the foundation of patient care and safety. Exploring how cultivating collective mindfulness can inspire organisational compassion and pave a new way forward …
As I prepare a resilience workshop, I would like to offer you a simple tool called the three breath Traffic Light.
In essence, you keep an image of a traffic light somewhere easy to find – like your phone or on your desk. Have an alarm prompt you every so often to look at this image.
The Red Light – is to remind you to just stop and breathe.
The Orange Light – to breathe and be aware you are breathing.
The Green Light – to breathe and then go.
While this may sound childishly simple, it’s power can be immense. Neurophysiologically speaking, “stopping” interrupts fear and flight or fight circuits from continuing to spread beyond their origin in the amydala. Becoming aware of the feeling of our breath, strengthens the links between the right and left sides of the brain. Finally when we breathe mindfully and “go” it restores brain function and control to the executive centres in the pre frontal cortex.
Or put simply, it gives us the power to choose how to respond, rather than be driven by subconscious lower brain impulses.
Faced with the breaking point pressures in the NHS as we have been for 3 years, it is worth remembering tools similar to this have helped rebuild inner strength and resilience in children exposed to much worse – the devastating trauma of 9/11. If it can work for them, it can work for us. Will you give it a try ?