Wellness Blog Series: Have you had your calm moment today?

Beep! - "Have you had your calm moment today?" is a message that pops daily on my phone at noon - an app I downloaded on my cell.

As the new year rolls in - enticing us to make a new years resolution, I decided to incorporate the practice of mindfullness more frequently throughout the day, rather than for just 10 minutes each day. Before entering medicine, I was always apprehensive about the future - about the uncertainty of not knowing what type of career I would be part of and about having to just "settle" in a job that I felt was not bring out my fullest potential. Being accepted into medicine has brought so much happiness and joy - that sometimes I still catch myself smiling eagerly in an anatomy lecture, for no reason other than the fact that I am so privileged to be learning this material.

But very soon - my initial apprehensiveness of an unknown career changed into an anxiety of unknown 'residency' career : what type of doctor will I be and I need to know that quick so I can plan accordingly! As I stressed about this over my Christmas break, it just hit me - as humans we always find some reason to be anxious or worry by constantly comparing ourselves to those around us no matter how blest we end up being. We worry that our colleagues are doing research or starting some awesome initiative over the summer and so we need to do the same to remain competitive. But why do we feel that way constantly?

I believe its because we allow our minds to be drawn into so many different directions that we forget to do what is most important: focus on what is and what we know "for sure" and that is - the present. I usually practice being in the present through mindfulness meditation which is the awareness of my thoughts, emotions and judgements. Applying the analogy as described by Eckhart Tolle, an author whose books I found very thought provoking - he describes our "true selves" as the sea bed. While the events in our lives are the waves on the surface. Sometimes, the waves are calm and silent, but other times are rough and turbulent (like times of sadness and conflict). However, what remains constant is the solid sea bed which just observes the waves above.

I have been practicing meditation for many years now. However, before I used to think that meditation was a method to relax. However, on the contrary, as time passes by I realize that meditation takes immense concentration and it actually is a method to concentrate because your energy is used to focus. I love the analogy of a running race to understand the value of being at peace with the present, and the importance of concentrating daily on the present. If you've ever observed an athlete sprint, they never (rarely) turn back to look at the person behind - because doing that would inadvertently take away energy and your focus. I believe the same goes for our daily lives, we must live life without turning back and comparing ourselves to colleagues or be pulled with waves in multiple directions if there is storm.

Instead, we need to be observant like the sea-bed and focus all our energy into the sprint.

Having said that, have YOU had your calm moment today? 

- Jennifer DCruz, University of Ottawa MD 2019