Meditative Moments Good for Patients and Physicians

The author meditates on the value of emptying your mind and reveling in the joy and experience - both in medicine and in life.

Mindfulness meditation seems to be the cure-all for every medical problem from alcoholism to sexual dysfunction. I’ve heard it described as the state you achieve when you are doing something you love, like painting or salsa dancing. Your mind empties of everything else and you revel in the joy and the experience.

I have meditative experiences most commonly while I’m practicing yoga or gardening. Most of my gardening activity involves pulling weeds. In my yard, there are two main "offenders," each requiring a different approach. As I’m pulling weeds, I think about all the unwelcome things in my own life - some so long neglected that they’ve become veritable monsters requiring tremendous effort to uproot.

During yoga, I am more reflective of my own personal state -whether I’m more flexible than usual, whether my balance is off or on. (Although, as my yoga instructor remarked today, sometimes being off balance has no deeper meaning; you’re just off balance that day). As I contemplate how to get through the crescent lunge twist (my least favorite move) or decide whether I’m going to attempt the crow position today, I also reflect on how my balance and flexibility is in other areas. Am I being flexible enough in my marriage, sometimes yielding to my husband’s preferences in order to benefit our relationship? Am I dedicating too much time to work to the detriment of time with my kids?

I recommend mindfulness meditation frequently to my patients for all types of ills. After instructing them on the “how," I try to explain the potential benefits. I’ve learned firsthand that when I lose the meditative moments because of vacation, travel, oversleeping, or rainy weather, I also lose my time for inward reflection to the detriment of my overall well-being.

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