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A Physician’s Mindfulness Minute No. 1

Adam Rosen, DO writes about mindfulness meditation, its benefits, and how to get started.

February 16, 2024

Rosen’s Mindfulness Minutes No.1

I have been meditating for almost a decade now and I have a daily practice that includes a minimum 20 minutes sitting meditation each morning.

I am able to bring mindfulness into regular daily activities such as walking, brushing my teeth, eating and even washing the dishes. 

 

WE ARE NOT PRESENT

There are so many times throughout the day when we are not present. Our physical body may be doing one thing but our mind is completely absent and somewhere else.

Why am I talking about mindfulness and meditation? Because they have helped me be more aware of each moment. I am nowhere near perfect, I need to continuously remind myself each day, but that is the practice.

Mindfulness meditation has helped my anxiety and my depression. Mindfulness of breathing has been a tool that I have used when I am angry or feeling panicked. Mindfulness has become a part of who I am.

 

 

BURN OUT

With burnout rates of physicians over 50%, could mindfulness practices help you? 

One study of physicians showed that a mindfulness study group had lower adverse events with regards to patient safety when compared to a control group. (Liu et al 2022) 

Another study demonstrated that a mindfulness-based program resulted in a statistically significant improvement in depression and anxiety in a group of healthcare workers. (Johnson et al 2015)

 

POSITIVE EFFECTS

Even if you are not in the medical field we all suffer from some mental hardships. Eight week mindfulness programs have been shown to have measurable positive effects on the brain and immune function. (Davidson 2003)

In other words, we can all benefit from a mindfulness practice.

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So how can you get started?

TAKING YOUR SEAT

To begin you can take your seat in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Alternatively you may sit on the floor. If you sit on the floor place a cushion underneath your buttocks so your hips are above your knees. In each posture you want your spine to be loosely straight in an upright and dignified posture. By being upright but not uptight, you maintain a state of awareness and wakefulness.

 

PLACE YOUR ATTENTION ON YOUR BREATH

Once you notice your body becoming still, place your attention on your breath wherever you notice it most strongly. This may be at your nostrils or upper lip as the air moves back and forth. You may notice it more as the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen. It does not matter which location you choose but pick one and stick with it. You may notice quick shallow breaths or longer deep and slow breaths. The goal is not to manipulate the breath but simply be aware of it. If you find it hard to keep your attention on the breath you can try counting breaths starting at one and counting up to ten. If you get to ten, or lose focus, simply begin again at one without judgment.

 

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LABEL THOUGHTS AS THINKING

While you are doing this thoughts will arise. When they do simply notice them and label them as ‘thinking’ and return your attention back to your breath. You may also notice other sensations like sounds, smells or emotions, for simplicity label them all as ‘thinking’ and return the attention gently back to the breath. Occasionally a thought becomes a story and carries you away. Simply catch yourself, label it, and gently return your attention back to the breath.

MAKE YOUR PRACTICE A HABIT

To get better at anything one must practice. To play a sport or instrument takes time, effort, and practice. You probably have many habits you practice already – brushing your teeth, having your morning coffee, maybe a drink at the end of a long day – each one becomes part of your daily routine over time.

If you find it difficult to practice on your own, look for a meditation coach or group in your area. Many places offer online group sessions and individual instruction. You can check out a number of excellent apps such as Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace and Healthy Minds.

No one has ever said it is easy but many people have seen the benefit of mindfulness meditation once they develop a regular practice. Put it on your daily calendar. Wake up twenty minutes earlier each morning. Leave notes by the front door to walk mindfully or on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to brush your teeth mindfully.

Through continual practice and your development of non-judgemental awareness you will come to see how you are feeling in each moment and develop the ability to be more present in everyday life.

 

Adam Rosen, DO

Adam Rosen, DO

An orthopedic surgeon with a focus on mindfulness meditation practices and patient/physician wellness and education.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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