Do you practice meditation? Do you recommend meditation to your patients, staff or loved ones? If not, why? If so, I hope it’s going well.
Dan Harris was a true skeptic who found peace of mind and true stress reduction through the practice of meditation. Harris, a television reporter, is also the author of “10% Happier”.
The human mind is rarely at rest. Thoughts come across our grey matter constantly, like ESPN banners with scores and stats. Each thought adding its own emotional baggage and associated biochemical response. One person described stress as “Being anywhere other than the present moment”. Hmmm? Think about it. If you’re not here reading this right now, where are you? Planning dinner, wondering about a conversation you had an hour ago, concurrently reading a text or email? How’s that working for you? If you’re not here now, you are either in the past reliving an event you can no longer replay, or in the future worried about something that hasn’t even occurred yet. I’d say that is stress in a nutshell.
Humans have certain needs we all share in common beyond food, water and sleep. The need to be seen as an individual and heard as a person who matters. Without these, like Maslow’s deficiency needs, we
cannot move to higher pursuits of self-actualization which benefit society at large.
How often do we “hear” our patients? I don’t just mean what they say, but what they are telling us with words, body language and emotion. How often do we “see” our patients as individuals of value and worth? Like a dog smells fear, our patients sense in-authenticity. They know when we are “somewhere else”. In turn, they go “somewhere else”.
Meditation or mindfulness is a practice that can help us quiet the thoughts that think themselves. Clarity is like the blue sky we always find when we get above the clouds. It’s always there waiting and the clouds that block it are our thoughts that we can learn to keep in a healthier perspective as we build the skill of seeing beyond.
Dr. Jim Parker used the term Present Time Conscientiousness, or PTC, to describe the art of being with a patient as part of the healing experience. Chiropractors have always known that we have to go the extra mile to gain the respect and trust from our patients and public. PTC is lesson one. Responsibility is the ability to respond. The ability in fact to choose our response. Will your response to a stressful situation be a habitual reaction ingrained by years of neglect? Or will it be a thoughtful, and appropriate response given the relationship? Meditation can help with the habituated responses we fall victim to and allow us to have that PTC that is the building block of trust our patients and loved ones deserve.
I find the easiest way to start with the practice or recommendation of meditation is via smart phone apps. Headspace.com is a great on ramp that has a group of free 10-minute meditations to get started. Calm.com is
very popular and patients will appreciate you addressing this with them.
Let’s manage that patient stress that sabotages our best treatments. Let us try to have better PTC this week and see how that feels for ourselves at the end of a day.