Dr. Mark Bertin - A Mindful Approach to the Coronavirus
Welcome to untangle. The podcast from me is the brain. Scenting had banned and meditation studio the Five Star. I'm Patricia Carpet. Today's episode is a little different Bora. It's an interview about how he can be a bit more mindful as we face. The kind of health scare that we're facing now with the coronavirus. Please note the interview isn't with CDC specialist or even a virus expert. So it's not about what you specifically need to do day to day to prevent or limit your breasts. There's plenty of that information available. This interview is more about how we relate to uncertainty that it presents and use our mindfulness practice to be more skillful and resilient each day Dr Mark Burton is a developmental pediatrician and an assistant professor of pediatrics. At New York Medical College he incorporates. Mindfulness practices into his work. As a pediatrician at an his frequent lectures to parents teachers and healthcare professionals. Today we talk about how we can be more skillful when we get triggered were hooked into feeling a sense of panic or anxiety about it all. We have a choice to do what we can do to stay healthy as we're hearing daily from doctors and the media and we're certainly learning how to make choices over what we can actually control. He suggests that we may WANNA notice. Where are tipping point? Is that place where we go from problem solving to panic? I really like his ideas about how we can be with. What's unsettling and what feels out of our control and while we can't stamp out all of this uncertainty we can change our relationship to these are interesting times for sure now. Here's Dr Mark Burton. Dr Mark Burton. It is so great to have you on untangled today. Thank you thank you for having me here today. Well this is an interesting topic. A little different from what we've done before untangle but a lot of people are talking about the corona virus and we thought it might be really interesting to look at. What does it mean in our mindfulness practice to be aware of a health? Scare like this but to not be fearful of it. Where is that balance between taking care of ourselves than others but not getting super crazy about it? What are your thoughts on that I think? Part of it is acknowledging the fear actually though. I'm sure we can talk about that some too I mean actual. I mean this is something on a scale most of US presumably. I've never really experienced before. And actually just coincidentally as I'm sitting here talking about this like I'm not a particular expert on physician but my community is one of the ones that is dealing with it right now so I think in many ways as a starting point when we look at it. It's just like this is the essence of mindfulness practice. You look back at where I plus came from a lot of. It is just the presumption that life can be really uncertain and changing and difficult at times and a lot of our resilience relies on how we relate to that so when it comes to our day-to-day mindfulness practice. These are the moments were practising for in essence when we are dealing less something that can be so all consuming mentally. How do we stay resilient instead our best as as well as possible so I think in in many ways this is the ground of the practice? That is such an interesting way to look at it. I'm glad you said that it's important to acknowledge that fear. And it's not just the fear but what is our relationship to that fear and how will we relating to this in general and what are some of the practices that we can do to more calmly relate to something that really feels out of our control. Yeah I think that's a great perspective of Ray words into using a lot of what we're working with as we practice. How are we going to relate to our experience? Whatever comes up and it would be totally unnatural to say. We're not going to be anxious about something like this. We're not gonNA notice that but triggering us in that. We're worried about her own health about our community about some different things I mean. I think it's part of the last few years in general. There's so many things tree-ring us some things to worry about. At times and a lot of the practice is about when we feel ourselves getting codenamed. That's the core practices when we feel ourselves getting caught up in it acknowledging at and then coming back to really our overall sense of resilience so when it comes to mindfulness we noticed the difference between clearly. There's a practical side tells us? We need to see clearly when there's something we actually have to be doing because probably that's part of managing our stress and anxiety to when we know our can define for ourselves. What physically as the right thing to do in any particular moment around the corner virus. What do we need to be doing? In terms. Of some of the things they're recommending keeping the pantries stocked or a lot of hand washing and once we define that plan though we can begin to look at just? How much of our fear anxiety is that our tendency most of us is for to just keep going anyway from that point of truly. I'm doing the best I can here in terms of like I've taken care of my family. I'm taking care of myself. And so much is uncertain and his unexpected. Anyway we can begin to notice when our mind is now off into rumination planning fear of the future and just caught it and then use our practice. That comeback is best to raise able. Because I think that has layers of connotation to it on the one hand one of the things that can easily happen in stretches of time like this is it is so easy to lose track enjoying day to day life in a completely non glaciated way. Clearly if we're going to stay on top of the more challenging things that are going on we also need to be sustaining ourselves with the things that aren't so challenging and even in the middle of a time like this. I'm having a hard time sticking just two krona fire spending part of the climate change discussions part politics. It's like in the middle of all of this. If we are only caught up in the negativity only caught up in the news cycle as its own. It's like a habit of mine. Nowadays I think is that compulsive need to just be like immersed in the next news thing. The next bit of information way beyond just keeping ourselves informed. So sometimes there's value to just recognizing like in the middle of all this right now. I'm just having a family. Neil almost make that a mindfulness practice of curves sites in addition hopefully cheer today meditation practice. Whatever it is you're doing to keep yourself Strong this is the moment in time to sort of double down on your commitment to it. What are we going to do to stay resilient as this crisis continues? That's a foundational piece of this discussion to and then looking at what does it mean to today because in spite of the fact that all of this is going on. They're still family time. They're still your hobbies. They're still these moments. We can capture. That are hopefully in a nuanced way. I'm never WANNA be suggesting supposed to pretend anything feels good. That doesn't but it's more remembering that our minds you get caught up all the negativity and anger and activity and fear and then we lose out on this aspect of one thing. That's sustaining did life. Yeah I think that's a really interesting way to look at it. It's almost this idea of being able to hold opposites. You understand that there is this situation and you define the plan and you listened to the instructions that the experts are telling you and at the same time you go on with your life without getting swept into all of the nuances and details that can really be frightful right and then the second piece of probably the second layer to it obviously a mindfulness. This isn't just about is all good or anything like that. It's realistic be capturing those moments but that's part of our lives that we might miss out otherwise and then equally so looking at like this is the reality of our experience right now and it certainly all the things we already mentioned a few mass who've been talking but it's your thing and there's our reality to F- unsettling and then on some simple level to save a Nazi do we can just continually expert. Like how am I relating to that where am I am? I getting to cut up in my reaction. My Fear My denial might compulsively shopping for experts. My family needs for months now. Three months of that all these things which are not so easy to find. I mean I think that's one of the challenges of mindfulness practice quite often one of the biggest ones that comes up a lot certainly for parents you know in my field is that clearly. There's a point through which problem solving is like a really valuable important thing to be doing and then anyone who relates to. This is certainly. There's a tipping point where it often goes off into more like rumination compulsive nece all these other things and it's not such an easy line to define sometimes but even around him this we can begin to recognize that. I've done morning to do for now. There isn't anything more I can. There's nothing I can control about the situation and problem solve to the point and you today and then you notice that part of your brain. That's trying to keep you safe by continuing problem. Solve continually remain continuing to go down that path and it can be really circular over the intense and then you come back to your practicing like got it. Thank you took care of that. And then coming back to again. What's the most skillful doing right now? In the middle of all this which is all an ongoing practice and then you're going to get caught up in it again. You can make a parallel between the cell experience in any meditation on just. So you're GonNa you do your best. You'RE GONNA get up in it when you catch yourself getting caught up in navy. Nowhere News for night. No more problem solving. I'm going to then fill in the blank. Whatever feels most skillful right now? Another thing I think that's important to touch on is always the fit my essentially that bigger concept of just staying resilient during challenging times because this is also a situation where we're also talking about our physical also sleep matters and exercise matters and eating well and trying to manage a stresses best Israel because that keeps US physically healthier on the one hand held system more resilient on the other and I think that's a big part of this whole picture. I don't WanNa Talk About Mike. Plus in isolation of that too so as I was saying. It's catching yourself. When you're caught up and going down one path and just redirecting saying what would be more valuable for me right now. Yeah especially like what you're saying around problem solving and then potentially hitting that tipping point where you're leaning more towards the rumination and worry anxiety and noticing that you aren't doing that because a lot of what this is challenging us to do as you're saying how do we relate to this situation and it's the same with any crisis right. We notice how we feel. And maybe we create a plan of action and pay attention to what we can control versus what we can't control and so I think that's really interesting to be able to notice that tipping point and maybe not go there have a choice. Have not tipping point. Be a choice point where you can say. I know this is going on. I know which habits I need to change. I know what I need to do to be my best and most healthy self during this time and then do I still need to constantly worry and become anxious about it. I agree and letting go of that where he's not so easy. And I think this does relate to parenting to underlying that sometimes you were almost eluding to the serenity prayer there of which. I'm not going to buy now at the top of my head but it's like except to control what you can change the harder part of that whole quote though I think is and give me the wisdom to know the difference and I think that's where life can get really stressful and it's true. I talk about around parenting. Where the thing that's often. Triggering are stress in that moment disting- that's often triggering compulsion to do more is. We're trying to stamp out uncertainty. So the core were working with often is how are we gonNA relate you uncertainty? How are we gonNA relate to the fact that there isn't a Yes? No answer here that there isn't something to here that there isn't any way one hundred percent sure that there is a not like take this antibiotic and this is going to go away. Yes no question like that and I think that is often. What's triggering both the underlying anxiety because there's no way to get rid of uncertainty? There just isn't in this situation in many situations in life and then looking at how am I going to relate with uncertainty itself? How am I going to recognize that? Like I think in this moment as best as I can gather logically done what needs to be done. He can be into question. There's although practice along like if you can catch yourself thinking or believing something ask yourself is it. True is thought time having valuable and true because you can start to look at that a little bit and then recognized that a lot of it is actually being hooked by uncertainty and Pamela. Shoujun has a practice talking about feeling working with the hook working with the sense of we all get hosted different times in life by different. Things are natural pattern around that hook quite often to do something react in some way to it without much awareness without much ability reflecting essence and the first step to breaking that cycle is to notice. All right I'm being triggered now on. This is scary uncertain baths real and then the word cheeses than you refrain from doing that. You'll thing you just catch yourself and recognize. I'm hooked right now and I'm GONNA catch myself. Recognized this is at. This is what it feels like to be. Hooked by whatever instance. It's an awfully big hook in a very real. Yes and then see if you can refrain long enough to say okay right now. Today that feeling of uncertainty is my reality. There's nothing else to be done about it in this moment. Which is you know a practice in and of itself the last step to her for ours practice. I think she calls it is to return is to just keep working on it. It's that we tried those hooks part of our life to feel that way often. So it's not like we're gonNA hear a little discussion. We're having right now and suddenly we're never going to get hooked again but if we want to start living differently and working with the differently we can begin to recognize that visceral sense of right there it is again and try to relate to it from they try to create enough space that to just recognize that this is what's going on today and then move on from there which is clearly way easier said than done but as I think a big part of trying to manage a situation that is so wide open and nothing that any of us individually presumably can control. Yeah Tennis Comfort with. Uncertainty is great. And I'm really glad you brought that up because I do think that that's the core of so much of what people are feeling and trying to protect themselves by having enough food and getting enough giral and clorox and doing everything that they can just in case it's fat just in case that makes us so uncertain that we wanna do every single thing that we can and that what you're saying is and then it's time to just be with the situation. Just go back to your life. Do what you can do. What makes you feel safe because most of us just want ourselves in our families to be safe and we also don't want to hide in a cave during this time so we want to find that balance between taking care of ourselves our loved ones and others and also being safe. I don't WanNA stop are thinking they're at all. I think it's important foundational among all of mindfulness practice to recognize that it's not on some of. It's not really about own wellbeing specifically. Because if you start what you just brought up as I definitely want to go next is just recognizing that the intention of all that is if we're going to influence our families for the better both emotionally and literally managed the situation well for our families if we're GONNA do. We can chew cut down on the spread of the infection community. We're going to do what we can say. Whatever needs to happen next decidedly wide. There's going to be people who are out of work. There's GonNa be a lot of stuff that we all need to be aware of and support and a lot of what we're talking about. In mindfulness practice comes down to that interconnectedness. And that like you said if we're GONNA be here for our families that starts with us. Staying settled in resilient ourselves enough that it changes how engaged with them though we can be more skillful and supportive of them and of course all of this discussion of mindfulness is meant to have a big piece of that is very purposeful. It's not being okay with everything going on. It's things settled enough to see clearly. What has to happen. That's different for all of us. But we there may be things each individually can you that does have impact around everybody else. I mean if nothing else staying aware enough to do good hand. Washing techniques is a thing that begins to influence our community to being aware of. That's infection control right there. That's the core in spite of all the panic and things people are telling us to buy do that is a basic fundamental fact to be aware of. That's a huge deal right now and then keeping in mind community level data. Some of US are fortunate enough to have the resources to buy these things. Some of us are working enough to have the resources that are proud of work for a few days. There's a little bit of padding other people don't have those other people don't have the ability by anything other. People don't have the flexibility to miss work at all and then began that doesn't mean kibble of literally fixing all that but it's important to stay aware of the larger impact of everything going on and then with breach of US individually noticing when there's an opportunity to do something scuffled to help out on a bigger scale who. I'm really glad you said that because I do think it's an opportunity to be part of our community and to recognize that everyone may have a different view or experience of what's going on so I think that's taps into our compassion and empathy muscle as well. The other thing I've been thinking about is in our mindless practice. We talk a lot about changing certain habits and patterns and we talk about it in the context of how we think about things but in this challenge that we're going through right now we really have to change some habits and I was supposed to go to conference this weekend and we got an email from everyone saying there's no handshaking no hugging that will all greet each other with a bath. How or an elbow or I'm not sure exactly around town right so it is interesting because it does challenge us to look at our everyday behaviors and see which ones we might need to ship. And so what are some of your as a doctor and the mindfulness teacher? What are some of your recommendations on habits that we can like you were mentioning hand washing? I know people wash their hands but now the recommendation is wash your hands for twenty seconds and uses certain kind of soaks. Are there some ways? We can be aware of our habits. That's an interesting question. I think as a position my understanding of this but I'm afraid to this is not my field at all. Is that but people need to is mostly. Common Sense is really when it comes down to so it is the sustained handwashing and maybe being patient with someone maybe not shaking hands as much and it's also. I think being aware of our impact on the community. I heard I don't know the reality destroy but I heard for example. Someone who has tested positive then shows to go out to a party afterwards somewhere. It's being where that being conservative about that. Probably for the best of the community instead. You have worries about ourselves to care of the community if we have. But I think you're asking me a question is a little outside my medical expertise. I don't think they're recommending really more bigger radical changes than that yet. You're aware that the things tend to spread through physical contact so doing what we can to minimize that spread. I think it's just an interesting time to not to be hysterical but to be aware of how automatic some of our behaviors are and to be mindful about which ones we need to shift a little more one of the more practical ones. I've seen which is I was about to do it. Actually is the battalion one of the recommendations. Apparently he try to touch. Your face lasts which is right. That is a really seriously hard habit to change like any habit does start with awareness. That's really practically true. That's the foundation of habit formation. Always so you can bring that. Same sense of unforced awareness like. We can't just put our life under a microscope. If that's important to you then you can start to pay attention to it and see if you can shift. That happens somewhere else. That's really the key. Point is to decide which happens. You want to change or focus on and to become more aware of that and I think you're absolutely right. I putting your hands on your face or scratching your face or for me. Those are really hard ones to change. They almost feel like it's such an automatic. Yeah it's amazing. It's like it happens almost like when someone tells you not to do it you have to do it in essence exactly glasses or scratch your nose or something which doesn't make light of it. I mean if it's really part of what needs to change than it does come down to having the self awareness of Joe Atention to it and working with it as best cam. Yeah so are there any other thoughts you have on? How our mindfulness or even our meditation practice can help us through this situation. I love a lot of what she talked about today. I think it's so important. How we relate to the news how we relate to the corona virus how we relate to our community how much self compassion may have and also compassion for others. How we change our habits in small ways that are reasonable. Are there other things that we should be thinking about now? I think we touched on most of what I WOULD. WanNa say around it. I mean so. I think it's really important to ground ourselves. And recognizing the taken care of our family. Taking care of the community still starts with the only thing we directly have an influence over which the choices we make so starts a lot with coming back to your own. Mindfulness practice and maybe really committing to it. Even more than we have Up until recent times making sure we come back to that I personally find. I think a lot of people do that when we have a very grounded. Meditation Practices Easier to come back for shorter stretches during the day. So that you notice yourself being caught up in reactive during the day and you settle a little easier so I think one level we just need to trust that if we can approaching ourselves will see what actually has to get done. Then I do think I in our Internet driven culture. A lot of things that have been going on lately have really made me feel like that teaching. I mentioned at the beginning of checking in with what you hear in saying like is it true is so important so much of the. Hanoch and fear is kind of natural in any situation that feels out of control but nowadays in particular so much of his driven by the next headline the next rumor. The next I mean everything's just presented as fact so I think that maybe the only other thing I want to emphasize a little bit is in the middle of what is actually a crisis. Trying to address Rabaul settle down. See clearly what now we're hearing is actual and what they were hearing is just the next thing to go. Viral online is quite practical level too. Yeah I'm really glad you brought that up. I want to thank you for being available for us today and for sharing your thoughts on how we can better be in relationship to the situation. We're all going through so thank you so much for making time to be with us today. Marc I really really appreciate it. You're welcome thanks so much for having me here so grateful that Dr Mark Burton was able to be on our show today. If you have questions or suggestions for guests let us know at UNTANGLE ACHIEVE MUSE DOT COM? And don't forget to check out. Muse at choose me DOT COM and get your discount using the Promo Code untangled fifteen and checkout five-star at Meditation Studio in the Teens APP store. We'll see you next week.