Professional Education: The Contemplative Mind in Medicine
As medicine enters the 21st century, paying deliberate attention to the health and well being of the next generation of healers is critically important. With this objective in mind, The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (CFM) has offered an MBSR course for first and second year medical students since 1985. For the past twelve years the course has been taught by Dr. Saki Santorelli and is now called The Contemplative Mind in Medicine.
The program offers medical students :
- A forum for learning effective, mindfulness-based stress reduction skills;
- A safe, supportive environment where medical students are offered an opportunity to discuss their experience of the early years of medical education;
- A developmentally-based orientation to stress, coping, and significant life transitions intended to assist students in the cultivation and maintenance of a stable yet flexible sense of self during their early years of medical training;
- A first hand experience of mind/body approaches that may provide a foundation for the development of a more participatory and preventive orientation toward patient care in their future medical practices.
The following text is representative of an invitation that is sent out to all first and second year medical students early in the second semester of the academic year. It is intended to convey to you the spirit and orientation of the course.
The Contemplative Mind in Medicine: A Stress Reduction Program for Medical Students
I'd like to invite you to participate in the Medical Student Stress Reduction Program. The central focus of this course is training in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), framed within an in-depth, personal exploration of meditative awareness in your everyday life as a human being and as a health care professional. Building on the solid ground of mindfulness practice, the course is an opportunity to explore and discuss, openly and directly, the place of the contemplative mind in medicine. By this I mean, our capacity to become aware of, deliberately cultivate, and use both personally and within the patient-practitioner relationship, internal resources largely untapped via formal education. These resources include such intrinsic qualities as: non-judgmental awareness, concentration, openness, flexibility, equanimity, wisdom, warmth and compassion for self and others leading to a deeper appreciation of interdependence, connectedness, and a sense of the sacred in our daily lives.
Being neither grandiose or theoretical, this course is solidly grounded in the practice of mindfulness meditation and mindful Hatha yoga and is a "living laboratory" where you will have the opportunity to:
- Cultivate your innate capacity to be present, awake, and aware of self, others, and the world around you;
- Develop a range of self-regulatory skills that you can use in your daily life now, and in your unfolding life as a physician;
- Participate in the creation of a supportive community of peers;
- Explore through myth, poetry, and story themes oriented around the interface of medicine, meditation, and human unfoldment;
- Inquire into what service and being of help to others means to you.
The program will consist of eight weekly sessions. A workbook, selected readings, and a series of guided meditation tapes will be provided. If you decide to participate, you will be asked to fill out a brief psychosocial measure on the first and last day of the course.