Graduate Medical Education Pausing Practices

Guided Meditation

Meditation is a powerful and proven method of curbing burnout, increasing calm, and enhancing life satisfaction.

Andy Puddicombe creator of the Headspace App uses this analogy to describe mindfulness. Imagine you are on the side of a busy road full of traffic in both directions. Each car and truck that passes is a thought, physical sensation or emotion. All you have to do is watch the traffic from the side of the road. It seems easy enough to just sit back and watch yet often it isn't. When our mind wanders, we can feel restless and end up chasing after the traffic. We try to direct the thoughts or stop some of the emotions. Before we know it, we are even more stressed out and restless.

Watch this 90 second video before beginning:

During this exercise when you notice you are distracted by thoughts, see if you can just notice them without making up a story about them. Notice your thoughts, sensations and emotions and return to your breath with judging yourself for being distracted. Often just by noticing thoughts, sensations and emotions they become less intense and distracting.

Instructions:

Silence the ringer on your phone. Visit Free Guided Meditations and pick a meditation to try. For some people this exercise may be uncomfortable or you may have the thought that this is a waste of time. If that happens see if you can nonjudgmentally notice the discomfort and bring your attention back to your breath. The invitation is to try it and see if it has positive effects regardless of any judging thoughts that come up. If you don’t want to close your eyes you can leave them open and just soften your gaze. Otherwise feel free to close your eyes.

4x4 Breathing:

Don’t have time for 5 minutes of meditation? Try a simple breath exercise sometimes referred to as tactical breathing. 

Rule of 4:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold for 4 seconds

This slows our breathing, oxygenates the blood, and focuses the mind. Try it before entering a patient’s room, or anytime you want to center yourself. 

Want to do more meditation on your own.  Residents and fellows have 6 months free access to the Headspace meditation app. Contact the GME wellness office to get the access code.

If you turned off the ringer to your phone remember to turn the ringer back on.

Reflection Questions:

Note that sometimes people need a moment to collect themselves after meditation.

  • Question 1

    Reflect on how you feel now compared to how you felt when you first started. Do you notice a difference in your thoughts or feelings?

  • Question 2

    What will you carry with you the rest of the day to aid in promoting clarity and calm? What could derail that?

  • Question 3

    What could you use to get back to calm? (quick couple of breaths, a walk back to the call room, body scan, go use the bathroom, drink some water)