As medical students, we are undoubtedly busy. Between studying and trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life, we don’t pause. Sometimes the only quiet we get is the car ride to class, or the few minutes before we fall asleep. A recent experience showed me that we might need a little more of this “quiet.”
When I was volunteering at Hope Lodge, a place for cancer patients and their families, I led a few short segments on meditation. Each segment was only ten minutes, but its benefits lasted much longer. After only ten minutes of focusing on my breathing and my body, I felt rejuvenated. We are often told that thirty minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week, will help us feel awake and alive. While this is correct, it’s still hard to find time to go to the gym regularly (especially during exam week). For meditation, you don’t have to get sweaty, leave your room, or change your clothes. Don’t get me wrong—I still love and encourage regular exercise. Yet if you feel too overwhelmed, stressed, or tired to exercise at the gym, give yourself ten minutes of meditation. These ten minutes will give you the clarity your body is craving.
So, what exactly do you do?
You can go about meditating in three ways:
- Complete silence
- Soothing music or sounds (such as a steady waterfall, a running stream, or nature’s lovely birds)
- Guided mediation with a voice accompaniment
Both (1) and (2) can be found on YouTube. One of my favorites for (c) is this 15 minute video.
Once you have made your choice, give yourself at least five minutes to reap the benefits. You’ll find that even five minutes of focused breathing can do wonders for your mind and body.
Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start breathing. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
When you are done, get up, and enjoy your renewed alertness!
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, and I am far from an expert. I only ask that you try it.
Further strengthening the therapeutic value of meditation, an article by the Huffington Post discusses the role of meditation in cancer patients. We all know about telomeres—telomeres shorten as we age, and shortened telomeres increase one’s risk for cancer. This article discusses a study where patients who participated in a mindfulness intervention had longer telomeres.
So give yourself ten minutes. You won’t regret it.
Meditation Transcendence by Hartwig HTG