Mindful Art Pause
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of Eastman Performing Arts Medicine (EPAM) moved from supporting patients at URMC with live music, to creating virtual experiences aimed at supporting rest and offering distraction. In partnership with Susan Daiss, faculty in the Department of Health Humaniaties & Bioethics with a joint appointment at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG), we moved into pairing visual art with music, still with the intent of offering solace and reflection time for patients.
As Daiss was already creating short offerings of art and poetry for the staff and volunteers at MAG, we looked at adding music and animation to some of these, creating Art Breaks for healthcare workers to access anytime. A short, upbeat installment could be viewed and listened to during charting or a meal break. These were delivered electronically as Digital Care Packages, along with other opportunities like guided meditations, or links to coloring pages by local artists.
Over the summer of 2020, as the pandemic increased the stress and workload on healthcare workers in our community, our team members become increasingly concerned about how to address the needs of the caregiver. How could we as the UR community give back, support your work, and help create space for self-care? The added blow of financial insecurity and furloughs only added to the trauma that was, and still is, happening in our community. We heard from our healthcare colleagues, “We can’t take breaks, there is no room for rest.” We felt the pull to move our focus to the healthcare staff and support teams, and knew that mindfulness would be an integral part of the next step.
Patricia Luck, also faculty in the Health Humanities and Bioethics department at URMC, was brought into the team URMC to add her many years of experience as a mindfulness-based program facilitator and trainer. Together we have examined studies around mindfulness-based programs in nursing, for medical and clinical teams, and the effects of art and music on stress and self-compassion.
The result of this work led us to create the Mindful Art Pause – an invitation to take time, take a pause, for yourself. The art, music, and brief mindulness guidance we are offering are all intended to help ask questions, examine this very moment through the lens of embodied presence, and to literally breathe while observing the pause. Our invitation is that you carry this pause with you throughout the day, revisit the material often with a curious and open mind, and to notice that pausing, however momentary, can offer care for yourself throughout your day.