CT meditates: a comedy (5). Three domains of physician well-being

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So, lets get this clear. I have heard both sides of the debate about “Physician Wellness Programs are Lipstick on a Pig“. Yes, of course. Many physicians are burned out because of inefficient practice, and often it is due to the setup and requirements of the Electronic Health Record. Therefore, according to this contingent, recommending ANY physician wellness program is like saying “suck it up; here’s some candy; hope you forget that your EHR sucks.”

In fact, in my organization, I have heard the sentiment: “CT Lin is personally ruining the quality of care at our organization” and also “SOMEONE (maybe CT) caused this dictation outage“. He just wants us to TYPE in the damn EHR.

On the other hand, I very much like the tripartite chart shown above: Physician Wellness can be described as three interrelated things: Personal Resilience (that CAN be improved with Wellness programs, and meditative practice, as I’m embarking on this month), Practice Efficiency (that I have and will continue describe our Sprint efforts and Care Redesign efforts), as well as a Culture of Wellness (where hospital and medical leadership – see my last post- emphasize how we will work together, and seek constant improvement).

Remember: those coming on the journey: 3 minutes of meditation! I’m holding both of us accountable to this important habit!

CMIO’s take? Don’t take it personally. It is both a meditative practice, and good career advice for a CMIO. I am a personification of this principle.

CT meditates: a comedy (4). Book review: Start Here

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So, today is about gratitude. Thank you to Dr. Patrick Kneeland, Executive Medical Director for Patient and Provider Experience at UCHealth. In his efforts to improve provider resilience (just one component of the many things he does), he has brought together about 50 providers to take the Life XT (cross-training) course. The course book is Start Here, pictured above. The actual course is 4 x 1 hour group sessions led by a facilitator, we have just had our second session.

What is unique about this, is the combination of millennia of meditative traditions combined now with modern neuroscience and neuroplasticity research. It speaks to both sides of my brain. And that I now have 50 colleagues with whom to discuss this journey.

The Life XT program is described here http://life-xt.com/  And no, I am not an investor or in any way related. It is just cool. I would highly recommend the book.

Remember: if you are coming on this meditative journey with me, I’m going to stay with a 3 minute meditation. Eyes closed, with just the simple goal of spending 3 minutes in a comfortable pose, and focusing on breath. Then to watch the inevitable stream of thoughts floating by, observing each one as a puffy cloud, letting it just drift by without diving into it, and returning to my breath.

Got it?

CMIO’s take? Let the craziness of the season flow by you. Be an island of peacefulness for yourself and maybe for others.

 

CT meditates: a comedy (3). Stumbling meditation!

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from: http://www.clevelandbuddhisttemple.com/meditate.html

Falling over during Walking Meditation!

So, our family traveled to Shambhala mountain retreat just outside of Ft. Collins (no, I’m not necessarily a Buddhist, Shambhala  is also a great place for a secular retreat) for a Thanksgiving Retreat and Renewal. I’m happy to bend your ear for an hour talking about how fun that was (meditation, yoga, hiking and doing tai chi in the spectacular foothills of the Colorado Rockies).

Today, is my time to tell you that I am bad at walking meditation.

For meditation at Shambhala, we sat for 3 sessions of about 90 minutes, with 10 minutes of Walking meditation interspersed during the session. The instructor struck the chime about 15 minutes into our seated session, and up we get, hands held just-so (one hand in a gentle fist, thumb tucked inside, other hand gently cupping, hands held just above the belly button). Then we’re off, striding at about one step per second, perhaps at 3/4 mile per hour (thinking of a treadmill pace) in a big circle around the room, eyes half closed, staying in sync with everyone. I’m working hard (see? doing it wrong to work hard) to empty my mind of everything except how my feet feel on the floor.

Trouble is, I get so involved in thinking “Hmm, when do I shift my weight? Do I land on my heel or my toe? How do I roll my foot for the step? Do I use the outside of my foot more? How much sound am I making? Whoops! going too fast. Whoops, slowed down too much” that I ACTUALLY LOST MY BALANCE and fell out of line. Three sessions of walking meditation, and I LOST BALANCE EVERY TIME.

Apparently, I’m bad at this. Gonna keep trying anyway.

Fun fact, I did have a chance to do walking meditation (a bit quicker though) at Denver International Airport, coming back from a trip. I was walking (avoiding the moving walkway) through Terminal C, in a relatively calm area, and half-closed my eyes, picked a spot in the distance, and strode peacefully, focused on breath, for about 100 breaths.

The yards melted away and I felt energized by the end. Hmm. From theory to practice! And I did not fall over. Bonus!

CMIO’s take? More new things to try. Failing is not always bad. Put away your skeptic’s mind from time to time.

CT meditates: a comedy (2) Insight Timer

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Well, sure. Some of you with great flexibility might right away achieve the classic meditation pose, with legs crossed, feet upturned into a locked triangle. That is too advanced for me. I prefer sitting in a chair to meditate. Either feet on the ground or even in a nice recliner. Hey, why suffer when meditating? And, I’m a beginner, gimme a break.

So, coming on the journey with me? I’m going to stay with a 3 minute meditation, eyes closed, with just the simple goal of spending 3 minutes in a comfortable pose, and focusing on breath. Then to watch the inevitable stream of thoughts floating by, observing each one as a puffy cloud, letting it just drift by without diving into it, and returning to my breath (All you overachievers out there, feel free to do more).

Want to try something fun? Here’s a free app I’ve found (for both iPhone and Android) called Insight Timer that produces a nice chime to begin and end your 3 minutes.

https://insighttimer.com/meditation-timer

There are of course many others: I have heard of Headspace and Simple Habit apps.

CMIO’s take? Take time. Breathe. I’ve found that even 3 minutes of brief meditation creates awareness, focus.

CT Meditates: a Comedy (Post #1)

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I am introducing an ambitious goal for myself: a DAILY blog post between now and the end of the year (every day of the month of December 2017) on MEDITATION, and my comedic efforts at self-awareness, presence, gratitude, compassion, engagement, all the good things that come from such practice. In this age of Physician Burnout, and for Physician Informaticists, it is particularly apt.

I have lots to say (hmm, ironic: how does that comport with being silent, present and self-reflective?) and will say it in little bits each day.

Will you come along on the journey? And those of you who meditate, please leave a comment or please, teach me something. And those of you who don’t yet, maybe consider joining in?

My entree into meditation was a book called Start Here (more on this later), with the simple idea that meditation can have benefits in as little as THREE MINUTES A DAY. Now, who doesn’t have 3 minutes? Really. And your task, for these 3 minutes is:

  • Sit comfortably, legs relaxed, feet on the floor or resting comfortably, hands on thighs or in your lap, good straight posture, in a place where you are not interrupted, preferably a quiet place.
  • Eyes closed.
  • Breathe in and out naturally.
  • Notice your breath, perhaps focus on the tip of your nose as the air goes in and out.
  • Inevitably, other thoughts will creep in. Notice them, set them aside, let them drift away, return to your breath.
  • That’s it. This is your WHOLE JOB for 3 minutes. It is harder that it looks.

First time I tried, I could not do it, had dozens of intrusive thoughts in the 3 minutes. It was an entire tragi-comedy in my head.

CMIO’s take? MEDITATE! I will try to keep my daily posts short, with insights I’ve gleaned. I will attempt to meditate every day, and I invite you to join in the doing and in the discussion.