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Awareness - the Authentic Tea podcast with Emily

Emily has a breadth of experience in holistic self-care and wellbeing practices and a comprehensive understanding of the science of behaviour change. As a 200hr yoga teacher and Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM) teacher, Emily shares her expertise with others to add more mindfulness in their own lives. In this episode, Emily shares her own story and experience of burnout and finding a conscious way to combine her passions.


Episode 13 of the Authentic Tea podcast features Rach's chat with Emily:


Rach (00:00):

It's wonderful to have Emily talking to us today. And Emily is passionate about holistic self-care well-being practices for other women working in healthcare, by sharing through the art of medicine. Emily supports women in their personal growth and development. Her online platform, More than Milk offers courses on mindfulness and parenting and small group coaching to prepare moms to transition to motherhood. The Healers health collective is a hub for other healthcare professionals to share their experiences and discomforts in written form and her wholehearted medicine, luxury wellness retreats allow doctors to explore yoga meditation and mindfulness and nurture their minds, their bodies and their souls. Emily has truly crafted her own portfolio career. So welcome Emily.


Emily (00:49):

Thanks for having me.


Emily (00:50):

It's great to have you here and from all these offerings. So many of them include mindfulness, which is something that I'm also so passionate about. So maybe you could share with our listeners how you were first introduced to mindfulness and how you use some of those practices in your own life.


Emily (01:09):

I was first introduced to mindfulness in medical school. I went to Monash university and I was very fortunate to have Professor Craig Haslet teach mindfulness, and it's quite funny, cause I've now joined the teaching team for his health enhancement program at Monash. So I've come full circle. And that, I love that work more than anything else that I do so that I find really enjoyable. But I think as a medical student, I probably didn't appreciate the gravity of exactly what mindfulness could do for me. I knew the concepts, I understood it. And in hindsight, I did carry through the concepts through my early years of practicing medicine. I think back to teaching smokers to quit smoking back then I started GP training sort of 2012, 2013. And I used to talk to them about smoking, continuing smoking while they were trying to quit.


Emily (02:04):

But just focusing on allaying the guilt and removing that extra layer from trying to actually change a behaviour. And when I think back, I think, Oh gosh, they were all, it was all principles of mindfulness, but I actually didn't realize that's what I was talking to people about. And it probably wasn't until about 2017 that I started to bring a lot more consciousness back to my own practice of mindfulness and how I taught it to patients as well. I think the thing about my own experience of mindfulness is that from that point where I felt like I was really starting to build on my conscious practice of mindfulness, I sort of, I kept, I kept being mindful. I thought I was practicing it in my day to day life. But what I was actually doing was probably a mindfulness without self-awareness and I was kind of managing this evolving sense of burnout, which I actually did end up burning out here in 2019.


Emily (02:58):

And I probably kept it at bay for a while through mindfulness. And the problem is you can't just mindfulness, away lack of self-awareness. And I think that there's a lot of articles around about Mcmindfulness, the idea that we're just being mindful of practicing mindfulness as this wonderful secular practice that increases our productivity, makes us more efficient and unlocks the best parts of us, and that's sort of what I was doing. And I think I'd taken the spirituality out of mindfulness, which I mean, mindfulness in itself is a very secular practice, but I do feel like spirituality, not in perhaps the religious or faith-based sense of the word, but more in that just introspective connection sense of the word that was missing in my mindfulness practice until really I did burn out and I, and I came back to it in a, in a really real way in 2019. Again.


Rach (03:56):

Thank you. And I think one of the things that you encourage others to share is their own stories of challenges and burnout. So maybe would you be comfortable just sharing your experience and how, as you just mentioned, you recognized you were at that moment and what did you then do to reset, to be able to come back to give yourself more energy and time and space?


Emily (04:22):

I was really lucky in that when I did burn out, I would, I had my mindfulness practice was pretty good. So the lead up to actually burning out with just so unbelievably innocuous, that really isn't like, I couldn't tell you some massive life-changing events that took tipping over the edge. And all of a sudden, I just fell in a heap. I had a series of just debilitating panic attacks, and I'd never had them before and really about just minimal things. The triggers were something I couldn't even tell you now, but I just fell in a heap. And I was able to switch on that mindful part of my brain and say, okay, this is obviously something that you can't deal with it the moment they can feel this pain, but we don't need to dissect it. We'll come back to that another day. And so for six months, I was really, I'm fortunate, you know, I had two younger kids, then they're a bit older now, but I was really able to throw myself into just mindfully, being a mom, being at home, taking work, taking medicine out of the equation, everything else was the same in a way.


Emily (05:36):

And I think I wrote a blog post three weeks after I'd burnt out that I didn't publish until a year later. But I talked about this sense that the doctor light globe inside me had gone out and yet everything else was the same. So every other part of my life felt okay, but this doctor light globe had just gone dark. And I knew I was heading towards that darkness for a long time. And I tried to sort of change my practice and tailor it down to the breastfeeding medicine and practice mindfulness and meditate and do yoga. I trying to do everything right. And I was doing everything wrong, but I wasn't being self-aware. And I wasn't really allowing myself to feel this feeling that perhaps medicine wasn't making me happy. And so I kept trying to push that aside by being more mindful. And so burning out for me was literally that doctor light globe going out and saying, okay, now this lights gone out, do I want to turn it back on? Is it a light globe that makes me happy? Can I focus? Like, you know, the fuse box goes out, you don't just, I didn't just go flick the switch and turn it all back on. I said, okay, well, why did that fuse go out? Why, why is it that, that fuse and nothing else went out? What, what do I need to change?


Rach (06:50):

That's a really powerful story to listen to. It's amazing really that you were able to have that reflection and that that lightbox is a really powerful vision actually. And how you were able to write down what you were feeling at that time, even though you didn't publish it until a year later. And that's something that you encourage other practitioners to do in your healers health collective to share their own stories by writing. Do you find that that's something that you still do as a practice and how do you find that that can help others to sort of explore their own experiences and their own reality?


Emily (07:27):

I'm a huge fan of journaling in whatever form it takes, whether it's a beautiful notebook that you religiously write in every day at the same time and has pictures on the cover, or if you're like me. And there is just scraps of paper everywhere with scrolling notes and little notes on my phone and there's voice notes in my phone. And then I just, I'm a big mind mapper. And so the way my brain works within this beautiful network of connections. And so for me, journaling is just getting things out and then seeing what connections arise. Once it's out of your head. I often don't see the connections in my writing until I have written it, some on the computer, someone, a half-written blog post, some scraps of the paper on my desk. Some on my phone and I just draw on it and bring it all together.


Rach (08:20):