Mindfulness for Health Professionals

If you were lucky enough to be at SMACC2013, or have caught some of the talks that have been podcasted or videocasted, you hopefully will have heard two of the key-note speakers, Cliff Reid from Sydney and Scott Weingart from New York, talking about the importance of being mindful in the resuscitation room and meditating daily to help you be a better critical care health professional.

They are talking about old techniques taken from the Eastern meditation practices and being applied to many areas of western life. They are being taught in Masters of Business Administration course, they are being used by sports and business coaches, and increasingly in medicine. These are techniques to help us focus our attention where we want it to be. So in a resuscitation instead of a million thoughts running through our heads “shite, I don’t know what’s going on, this kid is going to die, what will the boss think, what about the patient in the next bay, that surgical reg is an a hole …” etc we can just focus on what our patient needs us to focus on.

Most of us would benefit from spending say 10 – 20 minutes a day meditating by ourselves or with a group to get the hang of it, then slowly and steadily applying these techniques to our work life. We become calmer, more focused and work becomes easier.

To start with, meditation exercises get us to focus on one thing – say our breathing – and we try to keep our attention on that one thing. It comes as a shock to most people how difficult that is – we are lost in thought very quickly. The exercises seem to have little practical application to our work – but with time and practice we are able to focus on our patient in front us, think clearly and not be distracted by the mental chatter.

For most of us it is easiest to use a guided meditation: someone talking to us and reminding us what we are meant to be focusing on. So what follows is a series of guided exercises by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of internal medicine from the USA. He has made a career out of applying these techniques to patients with a multitude of illnesses, and now to teaching business leaders. The exercises are from an audiobook called Mindfulness for Beginners

Try doing one of them once a day for a week, become the next Weingart or Reid!

Breath Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Download audio here

Image from http://blog.hqh.com/2011/05/13/visualisation-meditation-can-it-help-your-fitness-performance/



Body Breathing Meditation by Prof Jon Kabat-Zinn

Download audio here

Image from http://neurowissenschaft.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/mindfulness-meditation-improves-cognition-evidence-of-brief-mental-training-2/



Sound and Thought Meditation by Prof Kabat-Zinn

Download audio here

Image from http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/7-health-benefits-of-meditation



Nothing Meditation by Prof Kabat-Zinn

Download audio here

Image from http://www.weekendnotes.com.au/im/005/07/meditation-courses1.jpg



Emergency Medicine Tutorials

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