Transforming Lives, Shifting Culture

In these times of increasingly complex social problems, ever-diminishing resources, and stress at an all time high, we are all challenged to stay fully present and responsive to rapidly shifting dynamics and environments.

That’s why we are thrilled to be equipping the staff of various city agencies this year with mindfulness tools that lower their stress levels and help them maintain focus and calm in challenging situations, both in their personal and professional lives. We use a special format of SHINE called StaffSHINE, embedding mindfulness into the life and culture of an organization as much as possible.

The feedback from our most recent StaffSHINE program at The Baltimore Station, a therapeutic residential treatment program for homeless veterans, indicates how transformative mindfulness can be. Changes participants reported seeing in their lives after the 10-week program included:

  •      Less stress on myself, more calmness
  •      Being more focused
  •      Slowing down and being present
  •      Lower blood pressure and increased tolerance in uncomfortable situations

The Executive Director, John Friedel, commented, “I see SHINE as providing tools to shift the culture.” He understands the importance of starting with his staff and allowing the tools taught in StaffSHINE to infuse all employee-resident interactions with greater ease. “These tools are key to changing our residents’ behavior. They can also expand throughout the community.”

Mr. Friedel also saw a dramatic change in staff interactions. “I was struck by the openness and increased introspection among the staff. With SHINE we created a space for equalizing, so that regardless of their staff position, they all began to relate positively to one another.”

The staff participants themselves had positive things to say at the close of the program:

       “I’m starting to use it and I don’t realize I’m using it until after the fact.”

       “[A Key to Mindfulness helped me to] keep from overreacting to a resident.”

       “This is impacting my daily life (in a good way)!”

What participants liked best were: learning to slow down and let go; taking time for self care and focus on the present; interaction with others and “knowing that I’m not the only one always rushing;” and the opportunity to practice the mindfulness tools during the sessions.

In the end, 100% of the staff said they learned really important things from participating in the SHINE program, like:

  •      I need to take better care of myself
  •      That sometimes a break is necessary
  •      The Keys to Mindfulness: Slow down, It’s just a thought, and STOP
  •      Kindness for self, self-care
  •      Self-reflection and being present in the moment

For an overall rating, 9 out of 11 participants rated the program as “Excellent” or “Very Good.” In addition, 100% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that after the program they are more patient with themselves and others; 82% are more likely to make positive changes; and 92% are better able to deal with stress.

Improvements were also noted on 10 specific knowledge and behavioral indicators of resilience, from pre- to post-program, and all the improvements were statistically significant.

With results like these, John Friedel stated, “I would be happy to be a site which institutionalizes SHINE and embeds it throughout the organization. I want this to be a part of our work with staff, with our residents, and with their families as well.” The next phase is to facilitate a second StaffSHINE program with the remaining staff at The Baltimore Station this spring.

What a joy to be partnering with Friedel and his amazing staff to spread the seeds of transformation and water them with mindful awareness. May they blossom into flowers of wisdom and fruits of skillful action that nourish many within The Baltimore Station and the surrounding community.

How might SHINE support your agency? Contact us to discuss how the CMA could partner with you to provide your staff with these essential tools for improved self-care and interpersonal communication.

To what one breath can do,

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