Meditation in the ER

Is it possible to bring meditation and emergency medicine together?

Yes, and that's just what we did.

Last week, staff from our emergency department (ED) got together for our first meditation. Anyone working in the ED was welcome. Despite being a weekday evening, many people showed up, including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff.

The conversation for the first 45 minutes or so centered around the topic of healing.

We learn so much about treatment in medical care, but what does it mean to heal?

We followed two principles to guide our conversation.

  1. Each person is free to speak, but speaking is not required. 
  2. Silence is valued as much as speech. There are no awkward silences.

Imagine a conversation about healing, with long pauses interspersed with dialogue. Some might say this sounds boring. The truth is it's not easy.

It's not easy to be okay with silence.

It's not easy to acknowledge the difference between treating and healing when we have a responsibility to care for others.

It's not easy to turn the lens on ourselves... at least, it's not easy to start.

But, like a stone rolling downhill, self-awareness gains momentum.

That momentum led us into a meditation, diving deeply into the still lake of our minds. When we emerged on the other side, things seemed a bit... different.

This doesn't just work in emergency medicine, it works in any area of life. Consider starting a group with a few like-minded people. Share your experience. If you'd like some ideas on how to get started, drop me a line.

Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is the author of Michelangelo's Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. He is the creator of Meditation Starter Kit and a course on The Three Bodies. He is a practicing emergency physician in the Washington, DC metro area.