Training medical staff of a leading Mexican hospital in meditation
Last year I got involved in this collaborative project between the Albert Einstein University of Mexico City and the progressive BITE Hospital. The aim was to develop end embed a patient-centred care approach in their hospital. In addition to supporting some aspects of curriculum development, I was invited to deliver a highly focused three day intensive meditation & mindfulness course. Hospital staff, including therapists, nurses, gynaecologists and surgeons open-mindedly engaged with this new approach to their work. They soon understood and by engaging with the meditation practices also experienced the positive contribution even a modest amount meditation practice can make to their work.
I found that my background in meditation research combined with my extensive experience with practicing and guiding meditation was particularly important in this context. Indeed, it helped tremendously with conveying how and why meditation practice can even be a meaningful support in the operating theatre – improving attentional focus and reducing external and internal distraction. At this point it was also important to counteract the misunderstanding that can arise if mindfulness meditation is practiced with a too self-centred view. For example, meditating from the strong position of a highly functioning surgeon, used to pressures and challenges of their profession, can lead to improvements and refinements of already well-established skills.
In terms of the patient-centred approach the heightened awareness of one’s own reactions, the increased situational sensitivity, combined with being fully present for the needs of patients were understood to supporting a different relationship with the hospital patients.
The contribution of mindfulness meditation to the general well-being of hospital staff was seen as further benefit of engaging in the programme.