Mindfulness: Tao of Living not Surviving | Jeff Cartwright | TEDxJIBC


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28 years as a Firefighter nearly led to Jeff becoming another statistic of first responders that are taken out by their mental health. Understanding the true meaning of Mindfulness and using this gift that is spoken about will change your life and allow you to control your own path to mental and emotional health. This inspiring talk will teach you how to “Live” and not just “Survive”. After 28 years as a First Responder, Jeff transitioned into his work as a Crisis Management Specialist and Work Place Mental Health Facilitator. Jeff is an /instructor for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Fire Academy and an instructor for the Center for Counselling and Community Safety (JIBC). In the field of mental health, Jeff has developed many initiatives by introducing the latest techniques and training to the workplace. He is well respected for his ability to connect with people and provide them with direction to support mental health. Jeff was a valuable resource to the BC College of Pharmacists Robbery Prevention Task Force, which drafted new bylaws that came into effect September 15, 2015 in response to the opioid crisis. Jeff brings his admiration and knowledge of Eastern Philosophy into his life as a Facilitator for Workplace Mental Health Education and Leadership Training. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

so I’m out for dinner with friends by
night and my pager goes off and I see
some of you confuse a pager was this
high-tech thing that they used to tell
us to get to a phone that was attached
to a wall to call somebody else who was
at a phone so I look at my pager and it
tells me that I’m gonna be working
downtown you see I’ve been working for
the ambulance for a little while now but
this is my first shift in the downtown
core I don’t know why I just really
wanted to be down there it’s like being
a baseball and being in the minor
leagues but this is your call up to the
big leagues I arrived at the station
that day and I meet my partner he throws
me the keys and says you’re driving so
off we go
busy day all around town flying around
town I’m just a kid barely into my 20s I
admire of fact they get back to the
station at one point and I call I call
my friends I get on the phone I say yeah
I’m driving today and they say you’re
not driving I said yeah yeah no no they
had other choices they picked me today
so I’m just having a great time a few
weeks later I’m working in an area
outside I’m working at a place in a
residential area and we go to a
residential call for a child in distress
this time I’m attending which means I’m
taking care of the child and it happened
to be for a child in distress so we
arrived on scene I get out of the bags
are the animals and I start to turn
around and a babysitter comes running up
to me and hands me an eight month old
baby girl she’s already deceased and I’m
not kidding you my first thought I’m
just a kid
I’m just a kid I get to work on there we
head off and off we go then the big day
came where I became a firefighter my big
day this is what I’d always wanted I
always wanted to be a firefighter I’d
dreamed of being a firefighter this was
the job that I wanted I couldn’t believe
it I finally achieved it this is where I
spent the next 24 years of my career
I was on a rescue unit for 12 years we
were a busy truck attended most calls in
the city there was shifts where we do
upwards of 20 runs in a 14 hour period I
moved my way up through the ranks became
a lieutenant and a captain started
working as a battalion chief the funny
thing was as my rank
started to go up at my years of service
I met the halls started to go down my
personality it started to change people
saw it in me a little bit I was I was
struggling things that used to be fun
for me were no longer fun kids laughing
I it was annoying when I was at work I
was like a machine that was my area I
felt nothing I was good there it was
times when I was alone that was scary I
couldn’t hold the relationship together
broke up tons of relationships people
that cared about me lost friends stopped
playing sports with my buddies and
ultimately started to drink heavily at
first just to sleep at night then more
and more with free time it was just to
forget about the things that were going
on you see I was just surviving
I was just surviving I wasn’t living
it’s it happens all the time in the work
that I do now I talk with with military
and first responders and they tell me
Jeff if I could just get to retirement
I’ll be good I’ll get healthy then but
that’s not how it works
I felt like that that person in a movie
one of those action movies where the
person gets shot and he looks and he
says it’s a fatal wound and he says go
on save yourselves I’ll stay here and
hold them off I thought my story wasn’t
gonna end well
I was completely lost at this time of my
one night in 2016 I woke up in the
hospital I was on the emergency room
covered in leads had taken a lethal dose
of alcohol and prescription painkillers
it was accidental but here I was it was
out in the open I thought I was lost
before because I wasn’t brave now I was
really lost everybody knew my wife knew
my friends knew my family knew my work
knew oh sure they knew but not to the
extent that it was now I had no other
options left now but this was my path
it’s funny I look back at that day now
and I call it the best worst day of my
life and I’ll tell you why I got put in
front of a doctor she was wonderful she
was put in my path for a reason
she specialized in trauma and substance
she understood first responders I spent
four or five felt lake days but it was
hours with her I was struggling I was
broken I just didn’t know where to go
and I still remember at the end of it I
just felt like it was it was hopeless
and I was leaning on her desk and she
reached across and she put her hand on
my hand and she said Jeff you’ve been
helping people for over half her life
let us help you this time powerful words
just powerful empathy I felt it
she got me involved in a cutting-edge
program they had back east at a time
it’s specialized in first responders and
military it kept us together and it
dealt with the effects of trauma from
years of service and substance I went to
this program thinking here we go I was
in this room with my peers and we would
talk about things the way we were
feeling the way we were acting the
things we’d done and we’d look at each
other and I’d share something and I
think oh they’re gonna they’re gonna
hate me and they’d all be going yep
or it’s share the stories of debauchery
or things I’d done in the chaos
and and they’d have something that was
worse very few times but once in a while
they would have something that was worse
that they’d done he’s he slowly I felt
like I had a chance I felt like I could
live again it brought me back to
something that I’ve always been
passionate about I’ve always had shelves
of books on philosophy but especially
Eastern philosophy it’s the thing that I
loved but my love went as far as to
reading it understanding it knowing it
to be true
and then putting it back on a shelf and
going back to the chaos I started
implementing it in my life all the time
mindfulness gratitude empathy and
understanding that we have a path in
life you see in Eastern philosophy the
lotus flower it’s synonymous with
everything in it gratitude empathy
kindness the thing about the lotus
flower is it comes from filth
it comes from the murkiest muddiest
filthy waters and when it blooms its
pristine there’s not a drop of water
a drop of Filth drop a mud on its petals
it’s unbelievable you see it’s the same
thing for us one of the biggest things
for me now and the work that I do in
crisis response I go to these situations
that you see on the news the mass
shootings the crash is there they’re
horrible situations and I help the
survivors to to get through that first
little bit and get them on track to get
help so often I look at them and I say
how are you doing today and what do you
think they say to me I’m fine no fines
not a feeling you could be hungry horny
happy those are feelings you can’t be
fine it’s not a feeling and then they’ll
look at me and they’ll say Jeff I’m
never gonna be normal again and I tell
them you’re right you won’t be that old
normal again but you’re gonna be a new
normal and our new normal is way better
than the old Nora we call it
post-traumatic growth means we learn
from the things that we’ve been through
it makes us stronger it’s why someone
who’s given a death sentence of a
terminal illness and they beat it
or survive a crash they should have
never survived suddenly sunsets look
different or their own children’s
laughter is just unbelievable
or they walk through a park they walked
through hundreds of times and they see
things they never saw or smell things
they never smelled you see we all have
that opportunity to grow to get better
to get stronger just like that lotus
flower we can have a lotus nature which
means we develop and we grow but the key
to this is not keeping it to ourselves
it’s to spread it around it’s to share
it and in some ways sharing it is
selfish because that’s what makes us
grow even more that’s what makes us
stronger that’s what makes us feel good
if you’ve ever done charity work or
volunteered you know that feeling you
get when you have mindfulness in your
life and you carry it with you and you
spread it you feel it it’s powerful it’s
a call to action to all of you you see
your path is right where you are meant
to be right now everybody here was meant
to be in this seat today I don’t know
what the reason is instead of when you
go through adversities and we go through
difficulties which we all do and will
continue to do instead of looking at the
ceiling and going why me why am I going
through this we have to question it we
have to say where’s this taking me what
is my path what am I going to learn from
this and when we change our thoughts to
that thinking pattern it helps us to
live not just survive it’s a call to
action for first responders it’s it was
one thing for me to go into a fire that
where my my visor would start to melt or
rappel off a bridge to save someone from
their car before they plunge hundreds of
feet when I did those things I didn’t
feel brave that was my job I wasn’t
brave enough to put my hand up and say I
don’t feel good I’m struggling I don’t
like to be by myself
I don’t like holidays and so many people
struggle with that and they live so many
people say
if I could just hang on a little longer
I’ll get help it’s a call to action to
everybody here don’t just survive in
that muck and filth come out of it and
live be pristine be kind be empathetic
spread the DAO of a lotus nature and be
mindful thank you

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