Conference Notes 3-2-2016

We had our first Wellness Retreat. 

I did not take notes at this retreat but a few key take home points:

1.  Andrea spoke about burn out in EM physicians.   Across the country, 70% of EM physicians have burn-out as measured by the validated Maslach assessment tool! Burn out includes 3 components: Loss of enthusiasm,  cynicism/depersonalization, and low sense of personal accomplishment.   We have a great career/calling but we have to be very aware of the toll our work can take on us. 

2.  Andrej introduced the Maslach burn-out survey.  All present at the retreat took the survey and were able to see their own level of burn-out.

3. We practiced yoga,focused breathing, and meditation with yogi Danny B.   These practices are all useful tools to maintain our mental health and compassion.  Danny taught us his Triad: Daily physical movement/breathing practice/meditation.  He recommended a practice of 5 minutes of each component daily to keep ourselves mentally healthy.  

Yogi Danny B   comment: 

Leo Tolstoy on practice and slow growth..........

“The greatest changes in the world are made slowly and gradually, not with eruptions

and revolutions. The same things happen in one’s spiritual life.”

“To be good at any activity requires practice: no matter how hard you try, you cannot do

naturally what you have not done repeatedly.”

“A person uses the wisdom of those who lived before him. The education of mankind

reminds me of the creation of the ancient pyramids, in that everyone who lives puts

another stone in the foundation.”

Hugs and high fives!!

ASANA (5min)

In general, move your body for 5min in a mindful way. Below is an example of what you

could do.

-establish your breath seated

-move into table top and find some movement of the spine, neck, hips

-down dog


-standing-intention, breath


-raise your arms

-gentle back bend

-forward fold

-half way lift

-forward fold

-rise up to stand up with arms raised

-a breath of rest (arms at sides or at heart)

(do 3 times if you have the time)


-down dog


-stand up to high crescent lunge

-open up to warrior 2

-extended side angle (tick tock your torso forward keeping side bodies long)

-reverse warrior (tick tock your torso backwards keeping side bodies long)

-table top or plank

-lower to belly or half way down

-cobra or upward facing dog (lift your torso up with your legs down, toes untucked)

-simple twist; standing, seated or on back

-bridge or wheel pose (a back bend)

-svasana for at least 30sec (laying flat on back, arms at sides, be the witness to the

energy you’ve created.)



Two essentials for pranayama: a stable (achala) spine and a still (sthira) but alert mind.

Find a tall, comfortable seat and an alert spine.

Shoulders comfortably pulled back to feel the chest expanded.

Don’t over exert.

Soften your skin.

Close your eyes. Gaze downward.

Set alarm for a 5min alert. DO NOT look at the timer!! Trust it is working.

The most simple breath is to simply BREATH. Take your breath off of auto-pilot, use

your ears and control the sound of the breath in and out so it sounds the same. Soft,

smooth, eased. Tension creates dis-ease. If the breath becomes “work”, stop. Take a

few normal breaths and start over. We don’t want to fight with the breath. We create

more harm than good.

More challenging “beginner” breath technique:

Samavrtti Pranayama (4 part equal breath)

Ideal ratio is equal. 1:1:1:1

If INHALE is 4 counts, HOLD breath at top for 4 counts, EXHALE for 4 counts, HOLD

breath out at bottom for 4 counts.

Don't stress yourself with holding breath out after exhale if this creates tension. It is

challenging. All of the air is out of you. Don’t panic. Find ease. This may take time to

build to. No problem. Your starting breath could be a 3 part breath, ratio 1:1:1. Example:

4 count inhale, 4 count hold at top, 4 count exhale, repeat.



Set alarm for a 5min alert. DO NOT look at the timer!! Trust it is working. With all your

might, stay seated with eyes closed and find as much ease as you can. Be the sky (all

of the thoughts), not the cloud (a thought). Try not to follow a single thread of thought,

be a witness to all that is happening. Don’t participate, just witness the subconscious tell

its story. The mind will race. This is normal!! Chatter will happen. Normal! Let the story

happen. Acknowledge it as being part of the process, but try to place it in your

periphery. This takes time and practice. There is NO such thing as "this isn't working".

It's working. Be there. Be present. Allow what comes to come and go. No judgement.

End your practice by acknowledging your efforts, loving yourself and smiling!


"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount

of work is the same." - Carlos Castenada

Yogi DannyB



Facebook: Yogi Danny B

Instagram: @yogidannyb

Twitter: @yogidannyb



4. Kelly discussed key info regarding healthy eating.  She focused on the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.  A short hand phrase to remember about eating is "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much." (Pollard)  Don't eat food-like substances (basically don't eat processed food that your great-grandmother would not recognize).   Don't drink your calories.  Don't eat food with more than 5 ingredients listed on the label.

5. Christine lead the group in a high intensity aerobic training session.  She used the website Fitness Blender that offers free aerobics videos.  The video-led exercise was challenging and many people had sore muscles over the next few days.

6. Natalie Htet led the residents thru a team building exercise.  Human interaction, strong working relationships and valued friendships are important aspects of long term health and resilience.

7. We shared a lunch consisting of Mediterranean diet components.  During lunch Andrej discussed the results and implications of the Maslach Burn-out survey.  Faculty and residents shared personal experiences with wellness practice.