GATHER FOR HER
During this global pandemic, the need for leaders who can operate within a different framework and capabilities is clear. Leading through global impact requires an up-level of perspective, a responsive set of skills and a clear process to make the best decisions possible.
How do we lead during an impact?
Gather for Her is a series of wisdom gathering conversations with women who lead. Each recorded session follows PowHERhouse’s FireCircle model of group listening, witnessing and harvesting to support the leaders of today through this unprecedented time.
Leaders face right-now, real-time situations, standing on yesterday’s foundation, to lead decisively and directly with practical hope into the unknown of tomorrow. Collectively our choices carve a path forward, consciously or unconsciously for future generations of leaders.
This series and the conversations found within our impact media platform is our offering to the collective wisdom which becomes the Story of Us.
Welcome to Gather for HER.
Reclaiming our Humanity Episode Three | A Gather for HER Conversation with Dr. Maryam Zeineddin
SOUL-CARE FOR HER
Our third Gather for Her conversation welcomed Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, The Founder and Chair of Zilicare, a not-for-profit preventative health platform which offers insights, tools and a sense of community for women to own their own health.
Dr. Zeineddin is actively involved in promoting universal health care with family physicians at the forefront of the Canadian healthcare system. She is a board member at the BC Family Doctors and is a frequent CBC health columnist. As a full time working mother, Maryam realizes the importance of affording herself the same consideration and kindness she advocates for her female patients. She brings a method of therapy called Compassionate Inquiry and her mentor is Dr. Gabor Maté. This approach helps to soften the effects of repressed fear and pain.
Dr. Zeineddin earned her medical degree from the University of British Columbia in 2003 and St. Paul’s family practice residency in 2005. She is a teacher and clinical instructor for the UBC Family Medicine Residency program and is a co-owner and family physician at Ambleside Medical Centre in West Vancouver where she has a full practice of family medicine which includes preventative health and lifestyle counselling.
Our moderator Christina Benty is a Systems Engineer and Strategist, retired politician, facilitator, governance coach, athlete and jazz singer. Christina’s focus is human systems within governance and organizational systems. She advises and inspires leaders to filter their decisions through the lens of seven generation thinking while maintaining their conscious connection to those they currently serve.
Our host Charlene SanJenko is the founder of PowHERhouse. She is a mobilizer of brave, whole, healthy leaders who are ready to make a world-class Impact both Locally + Globally. She is from the Splatsin tribe, the most southern tribe of the Shuswap Nation in British Columbia and now resides on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, the traditional territory of the Squamish (skwxwú7mesh) First Nations.
Our story tracker is core-communication specialist Tina Overbury. Tina works with individuals and organizations called for global impact. She works in story, guiding and collaborating with leaders to bring their compelling and authentic narrative to the surface.
Our graphic recorder is Sharon Marshall, an Indigenous entrepreneur of Cree and European ancestry, Skills Development Trainer and Facilitator, and the founder of Cree8iv Collaboration Inc., dba DEVA Training & Staffing Solutions. Sharon is a mentor who speaks and leads from the heart, always working with the highest integrity to make a meaningful difference.
This is our Conversation:
CSJ Charlene SanJenko: Good morning and welcome to Gather for Her. This is our weekly opportunity to speak with women who are leading right now. I met Dr. Maryam Zeineddin a few years ago during a women's health conference, and I've been following her work quite closely ever since. Christina, you and Dr. Maryam have spent some time catching up and sharing ideas...
CB Christina Benty:
Yes, thank you Char. Our focus today is health care, and when we chatted about the importance of women taking ownership of their health, we seemed to spend less time talking about the physical, and more about soul, mental health and emotional health. Can you tell me a bit about why this connection matters to you personally, in your own heart, and then why it matters to the world?
DMZ Dr. Maryam Zeineddin:
Thank you, Christina. I'm a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter, AND I'm a physician.
It's interesting how I say physician last. I used to take my role as a doctor and put it at the top of my list.
CB: Yes. We talked about the difference between your role and your essence and how the roles we hold relate to how we care for ourselves on a soul level.
DMZ: Yes, the life and many roles we live as women and caregivers go way back. It is passed down to us generationally and multi-generationally. Within these many roles, we have been taught to care for ourselves first, and in our conventional healthcare system, treating ailments doesn’t consider the soul at all. As doctors we begin by drilling out all the diseases or illnesses, and then if it isn’t physical, we move on to your mental health.
We skip the soul entirely.
I had to learn this the hard way myself. After I had my first child, I suffered from anxiety and depression. I didn't recognize how much my physical, mental, emotional, and soul health were connected. Nobody had a conversation with me saying: You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. This experience changed me.
This led to me starting a not-for-profit for women in order to offer an approach to health and well-being differently. At Zilicare we incorporate soulful wellness and have employed a practice called C.A.R.E. to work with women, their emotions, memories, triggers and the stories we hold in our body.
CB: I’m so glad we’re here because we talked a lot about triggers yesterday and how they show up in the way we live and work. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Yes. It starts with awareness. To recognize your soul, you first begin by acknowledging how your mind and thoughts are not who you are. I don't know about you, but my mind talks to me all the time. Especially now in the middle of COVID, we are all coping daily with fear and uncertainty. Our sympathetic nervous system is always firing. This system is great for acute stress, for example: If you want to cross the street, it's good to have fear so you know to watch for cars. But if that system gets turned on chronically, as it is now, it will affect you both physically and mentally.
There is ample evidence if your sympathetic nervous system is always turned on, you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, diabetes, and more. These are all inflammatory illnesses, and one of the main things my mentor, Gabor Maté reminds me of is this:
80% of the entire world’s autoimmune disorders are held within women.
DMZ: Our theory is we carry all of these roles, and we don’t tend to the needs of our soul first. When we think of preventative health, everybody thinks about exercise and diet, and the reality is: You can’t workout and blueberry yourself into soulful well-being.
We need to find ways to calm our mind and connect within. One form is meditation. What if we approached meditation like it was a required mental exercise of just looking at our thoughts without chasing them? When we do that, we can sort between the story, the memory and the emotion attached.
We came up with the C A R E formula for soulful wellness.
- Calm your mind
- Activate your body
- Reinforce with diet and sleep
- Engage your soul
CB: Do you think that in this COVID time, we’ve been given the opportunity to practice taking good C.A.R.E. this way? Maybe this is the reset we've all been talking about. We have time to go inside and look. I believe our external world is a reflection of what we hold inside.
DMZ: I agree, this is a great opportunity although I have to say, when there is less distraction your pain will amplify and you have to be prepared for that.
CB: What do you think are the two biggest emotions we are collectively having during these uncertain times? I'm going to say fear.
DMZ: I agree. Fear and anxiety due to uncertainty. I’d like to offer a short meditation for us to do together to help.
DMZ: Let’s check in. Find your sit-bones. If you’re sitting in a chair, plant your feet on the ground as if your feet are like beautiful branches holding you. Take a couple of deep breaths and let yourself close your eyes.
Younger Self Meditation
I want you to just pay attention to your body.
Ask yourself: If I were to do a scan for discomfort, where would I light up the most?
Notice where you light up. Let the light expand and just watch.
Tell yourself: I'm not afraid of my pain.
Now I want you to talk to that part of you that is uncomfortable and could be fearful.
It's usually a younger version of you. She is just trying to protect you. She wants your attention.
Visualize her as a young part of you, and visualize your adult self in a space with her where she feels safe.
I am visualizing my younger self in a big field with a big tree and my mom is there as well.
Watching both of you, ask your younger self: What do you need? How can I be there for you? And just let her answer you.
The answers could be many different things. My younger self usually answers: I want freedom. So that is my practice for her. I give her freedom.
Whatever her need is, for the rest of the day consider honoring that for her in the best way you know how.
This approach isn’t about physical pain only, or only emotional pain, it is about listening to your whole self and paying attention to the part of you that lit up and seeing if the sensation decreases, stays the same, or if it increases.
You can open your eyes.
This is a snippet of a visualization you can do with yourself on a daily basis. You will be surprised by what your younger self says to you.
When there is less distraction your pain will amplify.
CB: We have so much innate wisdom within ourselves and being able to integrate that wisdom is such a gift.
DMZ: We can ask ourselves: What does my soul need? What does that little girl need? If you look at the meaning of the word compassion, it means to suffer with. We are so good at having compassion for others, but I think self-compassion is what is needed right now. We are all coping the best way we can. When pain arises, we can sit with ourselves and remember pain is just a sign. It’s a signal to attend to ourselves.
My female patients often struggle with some form of chronic pain. Together we engage in a compassionate inquiry approach to locate themselves within the pain. Many feel it in their shoulders and down their neck. They describe it as if someone is sitting on them. What if it is their young self trying to express that she can’t can't carry the load all the time. We can be kind to her. We can ask our pain: What do you need? What are your messages for me?
CB: It's that integration of both the light and the dark within ourselves. We can experience so much shame around the shadow part.
How can we bring more compassion to our whole selves?
DMZ: Shame is the most negative emotion we can feel and we automatically react to it. When shame is present, our coping mechanism of fight, flight or freeze kicks in right away. Shame usually comes from a time when we weren't attended to in the way our soul needed at a young age. Shame instills guilt and women tend to carry a lot of it. I recommend talking to our guilt and shame to release it.
Hi guilt, I know you're trying to protect me, but I'm safe. I'm okay.
CB: It's so interesting because what we're talking about on a personal level, I observe on an organizational level. Organizations who don't create psychological safety make it impossible for teams and individuals to bring their whole selves to their work which results in an unstable foundation. This is where the human system within the organizational system needs to attend to herself in order to serve.
When we speak to leaders in organizations and individuals who are leading on the front line right now, what are your thoughts about self compassion and care? As a human system serving within a system what can you offer us?
DMZ: Leaders are generally warriors. We have a sort of warrior mentality and we will be the ones standing and protecting while we’re bleeding at the same time. I see people lead while they bleed all the time which perpetuates a belief that if you want to be a leader, you need to be able to bleed and suffer while you work. We need to have a cultural shift around that.
We can be an example and recognize when we are bleeding. We can step back and tend to our wounds. We can delegate, trust our team, and not always be the one out front.
We can step back and tend to our wounds.
My one piece of advice for anyone leading on the front line is to remember to bring your mind back to the present moment. Review your day every night before bed, not as a judgement, but in gratitude for what you’ve done and where you gave your best. Give five minutes of attention to yourself and whatever engages your soul. Have a cup of tea, call a friend, look at your view… take a breath.
Closing Circle Offerings
From Charlene SanJenko - CEO/Founder of PowHERhouse:
Thank you Dr. Maryam. I can’t wait to see what blossoms next for Zilicare. I hear your prescription to bring our mind back to the present and to engage our soul. If we can just remember to be kind to HER. Be kind FOR HER.
From Sharon Marshall - Indigenous Leader and Facilitator:
I am grateful for your imagery. As an indigenous person I ground myself through my feet with the beautiful branches you spoke of, holding me. We are multi-generational beings carrying beliefs, wounding and shame from our past. The only way to release it is through forgiveness. Acknowledge and forgive. Thank you for your meditation and your healing words.
From Christina Benty - Host and Moderator: We are a human system within a system who is serving a system. As leaders we are modeling the path of whole, integrated leaders for ourselves, our teams, our organizations and the people we touch. Thank you for the C.A.R.E. system you offered to us today.
From TinaO - Story Tracker: I love the reminder that when we are without distractions our pain can be amplified. I hear so clearly your call to us to acknowledge the parts of ourselves which need tending to. We need to change the culture of leading while we are bleeding. Self-care is leader-care and tending to our soul is part of how we do that.
From Dr. Maryam Zeineddin: Leaders can be quite judgemental toward themselves. When those thoughts come in, remember that voice is probably the younger version of you asking for care.
I did my best.
I am going to tend to my soul
I am not going to judge myself/
I will honour that part of me that needs rest so I can be tip top in the morning for my team.
CSJ: In gratitude for HER we’ve created a digital-care-kit for all who are leading right now.
To all who are acting so bravely and courageously through these days this PowHERpack is for you. Many women in essential services do not see themselves as leaders, yet they are and this has never been as obvious as it is today. PowHERhouse recognizes and appreciates each one of you. May this PowHERpack support communicate our deepest thanks for all you do.
Chi-Miigwech (Big Thank You)
To watch the forty-five minute interview in its entirety click here.
Gather for Her is a series of wisdom gathering conversations with women who lead. Each recorded session follows PowHERhouse’s FireCircle model of group listening, witnessing and harvesting to support the leaders of today through the fire of our time.
Today’s conversation was moderated by Christina Benty, Owner of Strategic Leadership Solutions, story tracked by Core Story Specialist Tina Overbury, graphic recorded and Indigenous informed by Sharon Marshall of DEVA, and hosted by PowHERhouse CEO and founder Charlene SanJenko.