So there’s this new guy in my life named Andy.
He’s kind of bald. No, not kind of. There’s a very distinct lack of hair on his head, but it looks rather good on him. He sports a lovely British accent and just the sound of his voice calms my mind. When I listen to him, I’m more aware of my breathing and better able to be in the moment. When I can’t sleep at night, his softly spoken words help me drift off. During the day, if I’m in a tizzy, he reminds me to not get reactive and to observe my thoughts.
As helpful as Andy is, I doubt he has any real interest in me.
We’ve never actually met, and probably never will.
Some of you may have guessed…
Andy Is Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert, and the voice and co-founder behind the acclaimed meditation app “Headspace.” And I might add, Andy is happily married to a gorgeous woman.
When a physician client of mine, a man’s man kind of guy, told me he was using this app called Headspace, and meditating every morning, I was intrigued, but skeptical. Having always done silent meditation, I wasn’t sure about someone talking during a meditation. Was this “meditainment” – some gimmicky New Age thing?
Yet during subsequent coaching calls, my client would tell me how he was more patient with his family, had less anxiety at work, and hadn’t missed a single morning of Headspace – for months!
Hmmm……..Maybe there is something to this, I thought.
Now you may be skeptical too, but before you run off, saying meditation is not for you, you don’t have time, or it’s for fruity people who wear yoga pants, please hang with me just a bit.
Instead of meditation, I prefer the term “mind training.”
Mind training helps with being present, letting go of rumination over the past, and anxiety over the future. It increases your ability to self-observe without judgment, and when you do that, you’re better able to choose how you respond to people, situations, thoughts, and feelings. “Mindfulness” is a term often used to describe this type of practice and it has been shown in studies to help reduce physician burnout.
Do any of you experience that Sunday night dread or pre-call anxiety?
You’re at home, and you’re not on call yet, or seeing patients. Instead of enjoying time with family, your mind is filled with anxious thoughts. It’s pre traumatic stress, and it robs you of any enjoyment of the present. As much as you wish you could stop those pesky thoughts, they have taken over! They are the boss of you.
Sunday night dread is just one example of the mind having its way with you. If you suffer from any of these common issues, mind training may help:
Dwelling on the past
Worrying about the future, perseverating
Feeling distracted and unfocused
Not being present
Being reactive to people and circumstances
Anxiety during surgical cases
Self-doubt, lack of confidence
Every week I hear from physicians who have excellent training, are highly skilled, and have a great track record caring for patients. Yet they often have thoughts of self-doubt and not being good enough or smart enough. They may second guess their decision-making and surgical skills. For no good reason.
It’s the thoughts, not anything based in reality that’s getting in the way. Mind training helps us to identify that these are just thoughts, so we don’t get overly caught up in them. We then have a clearer (head)space to find out what’s actually true.
There really are no idle thoughts. They can empower as well as sabotage us. They can unleash our highest potential, or literally drive us crazy. But we don’t have to be at the mercy of an unruly mind.
We use personal trainers to help achieve better fitness. Why not use one for mind training?
With a mind training app, you can have your own personal trainer for less than the cost of a potato – 26 cents– a day! And we’re talking 24/7 access! Yes, your trainer is on call for you all the time!
What I love about Headspace:
You have a highly trained teacher at your fingertips.
There are meditation “packs” which have meditations on specific topics such as:
Self-esteem, Patience, Forgiveness, Happiness, Creativity, Focus, Health, Work and Balance, Athletics, Sleep, Pregnancy, Depression, and much more.
The guided and unguided meditations range from 1 to 20 minutes ( you can hit pause to lengthen the meditation).
To support the training, Andy gives “assignments” for you to bring into your day to reinforce the concepts he introduces in the meditation.
With an unobtrusive headset, you could do a 1, 3, or 10-minute meditation at work. This little break could potentially reset your mood from cranky to calm, or from scattered to focused.
To be clear, I am not implying that the purpose of mind training is to make it so you can tolerate a dissatisfying or dysfunctional situation. Rather, one primary aim is to help you be more aware of your thought patterns and reactions so you are better able to discern what works for you and what doesn’t, and take constructive action.
And as I mentioned in my last blog, Creating Your Personal Pan Retreat, a meditation app is a great resource to use as an anchor for your own retreat.
Click here for the Headspace app. You can try 10 sessions for free.
Promo Code: GETSOMEHEADSPACE – gives you 25% off the annual subscription.
OK – gotta go. Andy’s waiting.
Find what you're looking for:
The Physician's Insider Guide
15 of the most common FAQs on physician career transition
Sign up below to get the resource to jump-start your career transformation! You will also receive the latest blogs and updates from Heather.