by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
So on the inaugural Mindful Monday post, I thought we should talk about meditating. But I have to start with a confession.
My name is Carrie and I am bad at meditating. Anyone who has met me has probably given me the arm chair diagnosis of ADHD. It’s a totally fair assumption- one that has yet to be proven by a medical professional, but I digress.
I don’t sit still well. I think that was a big attraction to vet med for me- I need to move. Ask me to see three rooms in a half hour. Great! Ask me to sit still in a chair and focus. No way! This impulse made every single one of my early attempts to meditate a complete failure.
I’m nothing if not persistent, so I am trying to approach meditation a different way. I’m approaching it the same way I approach medicine. The first thing we need to do is define my symptoms and our goal. Then we’ll work on diagnostics, and then therapies. Medicine is much easier than meditating! Let's do this!
So let’s define our problem- what’s meditating? I have this preconceived notion of sitting cross-legged in a room with candles and incense- but what the hell am I actually doing while I do that? I don't even own any candles- I have a bengal. Bengals and open flames don't mix. Are candles necessary?! Let's google.
(Google) “Define Meditation”
The first definition I find is that meditation is to contemplate and reflect. Okay, I’m probably an over-thinker most of the time and I think that’s more of a “Merriam Webster” definition than the type of meditation we’re after. In fact, I think that behavior is what we’re trying to combat.
Let’s dig deeper- (Google) “What is the goal of meditation?”
Pay Dirt! A common goal is to quiet the mind, to find “inner peace” if you will. Okay, that sounds nice. Great. We’ve defined our problem. And as any vet knows, a problem needs a problem oriented medical record. So let’s SOAP meditating:
Subject: Patient presents because she sucks at meditating. She would like to meditate because she hears it’s good for her and is an important part of cognitive restructuring. No C/S/V/D, No PU/PD, Eating well. Fully vaccinated.
Previous Therapies: Patient has tried meditation classes. Patient honestly fell asleep during class. Which was restful, but hardly the point. Has tried an app. Has tried yoga. None of those things was a good fit.
Objective: Patient presents as an anxious female, who has trouble settling.
Assessment: Patient is calmed by physical activity. Further research shows that many beginning meditation guides recommend some light exercise and breath work as a way to trick yourself in to meditating. Patient is a runner, and has achieve pseudo-meditative states while doing breath work so this seems a natural pathway to achieving this goal.
Plan: Try meditating while running.
Step 1: During a run turn off all distractions- no headphones on this one.
Step 2: Pick an area of focus. Breath seems natural. Mental note to do this on a trail or the treadmill so I don’t get hit by a car.
Step 3: Try to maintain focus on breath. When mind wanders, do not get frustrated and curse at oneself, just bring focus back to breath.
I’ll check back in a week and let you know how it goes.