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Ignatian Mindfulness

Program for Ignatian Mindfulness

Framed by the Ignatian charisms of care of the whole person and people for and with others, the Program for Ignatian Mindfulness unites the concepts of mindfulness and discernment. Saint Ignatius calls us to surrender to more fully receive love and grace. The three pillars of the program are:

Pause: Creating a space without judgments or attachments to appreciate the whole person

Presence: Bringing attention to the moment by noticing one’s thoughts and surroundings

Peace:  Imagining empathy, and compassion for self and others through contemplation

Integration

The Program for Ignatian Mindfulness aims to facilitate the integration of the mind, body, breath and spirit through conversation, practice and contemplation.

The program for Ignatian Mindfulness is a co-curricular program in the Creighton School of Dentistry.  The curricular part of the program was designed to help students navigate the extreme challenges of dental school by teaching academic success tools framed by the concepts of mindfulness.  The course is designed to advance the ultimate goal of dental education which is to develop technically advanced and compassionate practitioners.  The Jesuit tradition of the Ingantian value of Cura Personalis or care of the whole person frames this integrated approach to health care. Because dental education is both rigorous and exacting this course provides space to explore techniques that support student wellbeing. By engaging in practices of movement, breathing, contemplation and mindfulness students will develop strategies for use in the practice setting to enhance professional resilience and patient wellbeing that is supported by research.  To, date 120 student have completed with six week required course and report positive experiences.  These are a few quotes from their reflections:

First year dental students’ reflections:

“Another benefit of mindfulness that stood out to me in dentistry is very similar to what is emphasized so strongly with Creighton Ignatian values. “

“I found it interesting the connection between mindfulness practice and improvement of one’s self-awareness of their own beliefs to lead to better cultural understanding. I think it would benefit us in terms of kindness and caring for our patients.”

“Interestingly, care of others and care of self-appear to be interdependent.”

The PIM program aims to nurture and facilitate on-going conversations about the intersection of Ignatian charisms and mindfulness practices.  To that end, events are planned to bring folks together as a community to experience mindful practices in the spirit of the Ignatian tradition.

Barb Harris, Ph.D.
Director, Program for Ignatian Mindfulness reflection:

What do Ignatian values, mindfulness pedagogy and the book 10% Happier have in common?   These three things inform my journey of self-reflection, wellbeing, healing and discernment.

As a social worker for the past 45 years, I wanted my work to move into a new direction of helping to sustain the health and wellbeing of the healers.  Folks in the health/helping professions, particularly at Creighton, live by and practice the Jesuit charism of care of the whole person.  However, it did not appear that these professionals were extending the same quality of care to their whole person.  After about five years of addressing burnout in these professions, I wanted to do something different.  It seemed that professionals were seeing burnout as something wrong with them rather than the systems in which they worked.  Burnout should be an anticipated response to working with folks who are poor, hungry, without health and a host of other intervening vulnerabilities.  The answer to burnout is not what is wrong with you the practitioner but how did you get here and are there ways to reduce feelings of exhaustion, frustration and suffering.  Folks were getting good information such as sleep well, eat well and, exercise well. The question arose for me - were there other tools to help folks feel centered? To that end and armed with a certification as a yoga teacher, a license in mental health and years as a social worker I wanted to search for sustainable resources.  Mindfulness seemed innovative and accessible.  Jon Kabat-Zinn the godfather of mindfulness in the US describes it as the ability to notice thoughts intentionally without judgement.  But, like most, quieting and noticing the mind are challenging practices.  Enter Dan Harris author of 10% Happier.   The bar he set of 10% intrigued me.  What if I could be 10% more focused, less anxious, more content, peaceful, generous and kind.  His writings also resonated with my ongoing challenge in the practice of mindfulness which is a widely fidgety mind.  St.  Ignatius, Alcoholics Anonymous and many faith traditions in between call us to surrender.  Mindfulness gives us the tools to surrender to the present and experience the healing and discernment in those moments by being present for the Divine’s presence.

When someone is hurting - your presence is medicine.
— First Nations Elder