On the Road – Institute for Zen Leadership
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On the road

Andy Robins shares what he’s learned living out of the back of a Transit Van as he and his family travel England in the pandemic summer – July 2020

In recent weeks I have been on the road travelling with my family in England.  Driven by circumstances of not being able to return to Vietnam, due to Covid-19, we have been living out of the back of a Transit Van. I have a guilty pleasure of accidentally catching snippets of other peoples’ conversations, and hearing little pieces of other people’s lives and points of view. I am always interested in and enjoy opinion, and understanding how people see their world today. I have eavesdropped on passers-by in all sorts of places and there is a theme to the conversations. People are overwhelmed and exhausted; the lockdown has been a long haul. On top of this people are feeling a bombardment of epic proportions: global warming, plastics in the ocean, anti-racism, job losses, business closures, civil rights in Hong Kong, cold wars, and oh yes, I nearly forgot: Covid-19 still a rampant global viral killer. 

The bombardment is continuous. Smartphones, providing 24/7 updates through news and social media channels, mixed in with world leaders Tweeting their agendas. People are unable to distinguish between real or fake news. I overheard a conversation last week, mainly talking about the recent anti-racism demonstrations that had taken place, where both people said they had turned off the news feed and checked out of Facebook. We are beginning to hear that Facebook may have reached its ‘tipping point’ of losing customers and even large corporations are taking note and moving their advertising. 

On my travels, I caught up with a friend and leader who has built up a great business over the last seven years and whose livelihood now is under severe strain. Years of blood, sweat and tears disappearing overnight is devastating. The lockdown has brought days in front of a computer screen and sleepless nights and no golden moments with his family. We also chatted about global issues: my time living in the USA and Vietnam, both culturally different from the UK, and how much leadership style has impacted Covid-19 deaths, perhaps even more than have sophisticated health care systems. His conclusion to our discussion on global issues was, “To be honest; I just want to hunker down in a tent in the middle of Dartmoor (national park) and save my f***** self.”

So where do you turn? There is no doubt in my own experience that if you’re not in the right place yourself, then it’s probably not the time to try and help others. As the pre-flight announcement tells us “in case of an emergency put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Often under stress, the point is missed. As Eleanor Brown said, “‘Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” 

At times of need, how can you recognize what matters most amongst the myriad of local, national and global issues? At these times in my own life, the way forward has been to find some stillness, a quieting of the mind, a sense of settling down to build resilience back into my daily life. The great thing about Zen is that it meets you wherever you are; there is no agenda. As D.T. Suzuki put it, “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach; it points.” Once armed with this awareness, you can begin the journey to discover and act on what is important to you. And as I found out what seems essential today can change once you have your daily dose of stillness that comes from settling down!

HOPEFUL! Resonance and Healing Healthcare

We heard from several people that they found Our “Resonance and Healing Healthcare” webinar on June 30 so hopeful that we want to share it with you. In this hour-long conversation, Ginny Whitelaw talks with Adrienne Hampton, MD, Alex Adams, MD, Kristi Crymes, DO, and ZL Instructor Dennis Tirman. They explore questions such as “What’s ripe for change in healthcare?” and “What has to die? What do we have to let go of for the right thing to emerge?” We explore exercises that can bring you into better contact with your whole self, and talk about how those practices change interactions with patients or colleagues. We think healthcare practitioners may find this especially inspiring, but it is accessible for everyone. Adrienne Hampton and Dennis Tirman are the lead instructors in our Fall HEAL 1 program, new serialized format, highlighted below.

Busy Healthcare Professionals, We Heard You!

What does it mean to go from Coping to Transforming? From Tension to Extension? To Lead Fearlessly in Healthcare settings and be fully present in patient encounters? 

We’ve heard that our HEAL (Healthy Embodied Agile Leadership) programs have been profoundly moving and helpful for the leaders in healthcare who have been able to attend. To not only read about, but to practice, and experience the Flips of Zen Leadership. They report that is has changed, for the better, the way they approach patient care and system issues. Participants note that as a result of attending HEAL 1 they have been able to “get out of [their] own way,” as leaders and caregivers. 

We are confident that this training could benefit any professional who takes it. We’ve also heard that the traditional long-weekend format is hard to fit into a busy healthcare professional’s schedule – especially now. Yet now is when HEAL could be an especially vital resource. 

If the coronavirus has done anything for healthcare workers, it might be that in making in-person training NOT advisable, it has led to a format change that means more people could attend this important and accessible program. 

Our first HEAL 1 serialized program (in combination with a Zen Leader 1) will be held 6 progressive Saturday mornings for 3 hours at a time, from September 19 through October 24. The cost is a fraction of our previous residence-based programs, no travel time or expense, and when you’re done, you’re home! Find out more about and sign up for our serialized HEAL 1 program today! 

Learn more about our heal 1 serial course!

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