Australians rank losing their sight as one of their top fears in life, and being optometrists we are often their ‘go to person’ if there are eye issues. With this underlying responsibility, we have to make accurate judgements under time pressure as well as create an empathetic environment for our patients.
I often feel my typical working day is like Forrest Gump’s famous movie line “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. The morning could start off beautifully with little old ladies sharing their great grandchildren’s stories whilst updating their new pair of sewing glasses. However by 4:58pm, it could all go horribly wrong when the last patient presents with a retinal detachment and there is no eye specialist on call.
The daily emotional rollercoaster of life has at times nudged me into a corner and has made me asked some very pressing questions; “how can I enjoy my day despite what happens work?” And “How do I create peace for myself so that I am able to ‘reset’ between patients?”
Initially the success to my reset techniques have been variable at work when the pressure has been overwhelming. Publicly blaming others did not achieve a positive outcome, and my bathroom mirror confidante did not give me the relief I was searching for.
I started my relationship with mindfulness when I knew this was the antidote to help me learning how to channel stress and calm down my monkey mind.
Text books define mindfulness as “a practice of purposefully paying attention in the present moment and bringing a non-judgmental compassionate awareness to the nature of things”.
On my journey, I have had learn to pause and be the observer to my own thoughts. This ‘pause and reset’ framework is what I use between patients to ensure I give my very best. As I began acknowledging all my emotions by asking if I was feeling ‘sad, mad or glad’ I became more present to the moment. Furthermore I had noted that if I could label a negative emotion rather than swimming in an ill feeling, its power had dissipated.
As I passionately believe that mindfulness training is not just a work skill but a life skill to keep us emotionally connected to ourselves and others, I am working on a project to bring the leading mindfulness training practitioners in Australia to join me in designing a “Body, soul and mind retreat” in Bali 2018.
If you are interested please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Ang is an independent practice owner of 3 practices in Sydney and Wollongong and has been practising for 15 years. She completed her Masters of Optometry in 2012 and is a clinic supervisor at the University of New South Wales on Fridays. A yoga lover, she is the mother of a beautiful six month old son “Zen”. She was the head of optometry for Cambodia Vision from 2009 to 2015.