Mindfulness Academy Podcast: John Shepard
Our first guest for the Mindfulness Academy Podcast was John Shepard, a registered nurse and Mindfulness Manager at IU Health. John leads a variety of mindfulness practices for patients and hospital staff alike. It was an absolute pleasure to have John kick off the Mindfulness Academy Podcast and share his insights into how he incorporates mindfulness into the medical profession and patient care as well as his own journey to mindfulness.
John spoke about the importance of mindfulness within the healthcare profession. For many doctors and nurses, being present is incredibly important but also difficult due to the challenges of their careers. John talked about how he began sharing mindfulness practices at IU Health and how his work can impact doctors, nurses and other staff members within the hospital setting. John explained a few practices he utilizes with his fellow staff members, including laughter yoga (you’ll have to listen to the episode to learn more about this interesting activity!) and “seeing red”.
As for patient care, John shared that it’s not necessarily about “mindfulness” but about getting patients to be aware of their bodies and what’s working and what’s not. John told a story about the benefits a simple breathing exercise had on a cardiovascular patient. Learning how to breathe and check in with his body helped this patient recognize how his body was actually feeling and learned how mindful breathing exercises can physically benefit the body.
John talked about his background, including his first career in the insurance industry for 15 years. He decided he wanted to do something else and knew that healthcare was an interest of his, so he earned his Bachelor’s of Nursing from Marian College in his late 30s.
As an ICU nurse, he recognized the high stress levels he was facing on a daily basis and how that was negatively impacting his health and wellness. This is when he decided to start practicing meditation and mindfulness in order to increase his self-awareness and improve his mental health.
As the Mindfulness Manager at IU Health, John has engaged in some incredible training opportunities, including a recent multi-day outdoor wilderness retreat. He shared about his experience with silence and feeling a deep connection with the natural world during this time (including a major thunderstorm and flooding!). John also discussed the difficulty he had with keeping the “mindfulness momentum” going after the retreat and how challenging it can be to not let distractions and everyday life interfere with your mindfulness practices.
Our conversation was wonderful; listen to discover many more insights and information that John shared during his time on The Mindfulness Academy Podcast. If you haven’t already, take a moment to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.