Mindful Medicine

Posted on September 24, 2016

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21 September

I go to a clinic at University of Michigan for my annual gynecological exam. My doctor asks what’s going on with me, and I tell her that I’ve been doing research into what happens when I incorporate mindfulness practices in my high school classes.

She smiles and says that it sounds very interesting and good for the students. Then she tells me that the hospital recently offered a workshop for doctors on “the mindful exam.” She says that she’s learned that to perform optimally when examining patients, she needs to stop talking and practice being fully present for the exam.

I laugh in delight at the parallels between her world and mine. “That’s so cool,” I say, smiling.

She taps my leg and says, “I thought you’d like that.” Then she performs a mindful exam while I practice mindful breathing.

The silence feels slightly awkward, but I am deeply appreciative that she is quietly focused on my body, bringing her knowledge and expertise to the examination, for the purpose of keeping me alive and in good health. The idea that she’s practicing medicine mindfully puts me more at ease than any small talk could.

I leave with an order for a Mammogram and a sense of affirmation that I am on the right track in teaching my students mindfulness practices. I am delighted at the intersection of mindful medicine with my mindful classroom. I reflect on the possibility that by using mindfulness practices, my students might change their minds and change their lives–and that more doctors might save more lives.

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I walk out into a brilliant blue sky of a September noon, smiling and breathing, thankful and peaceful, empty and awake, mindful in the moment.

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