Tag Archives: meditation

Walking a Labyrinth

There’s a labyrinth outside my window at work. Not a maze of hallways or buildings but, a meditation path. It sits there unused and observed like a work of art.

My friend and I walked it a year or so ago on an especially stressful afternoon. “Let’s take a break, get out of here and go walk around that labyrinth thing” We did walk it – fast. We stomped around the intertwined gravel path complaining about our day at work all the way in and all the way out.

Turns out that’s not the best way to walk a labyrinth. I found a better way at a different labyrinth far away from work on the edge of a desert.

Left my phone on a bench nearby.

Stepped in, breathing timed with each slow step.

Lay my worries, stress, fears behind me in the gravel as I stepped.

Foot, step, crunch, breathe, let go, shift, place a foot, step, crunch, breathe, shift, let go.

Lost by the changing direction of the maze.

Just stepping and breathing, stepping and breathing.

In the middle with a lighter burden, I paused and felt tears (surprised at myself) as I looked over the desert beauty; felt the breeze and sun.

Then I turned to walk out by measured degree.

Foot, step, crunch, breathe, hope, shift, foot, step, crunch, breathe, promise.

Slowly, turning, winding.

At the end one last step out.

Buoyant.

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S.T.O.P.ing at The Exam Room Door

I was at a work meeting recently. One meant to address physician “wellness”, but held ironically at my kids’ dinner and bedtime. We were given a stack of Post-it notes and asked to write down things that made us happy during our work days. I wrote:

  • laughing 6-month old babies
  • having time to get to know patients’ families
  • choosing stickers with my patients

The doctor next to me wrote:

  • no shows

Well, there is that. What doctor doesn’t dream of the occasional break in the schedule created by a patient not keeping their appointment?

One morning recently, I saw the name on my schedule of a patient that led me to spend the rest of the day hoping for a smile-inducing no show. When the patient arrived, I sighed a deep sigh but, then decided to test out some of the mindfulness-in-the-workplace practices I have spent the past few months learning. As I headed to the room, I thought to myself:

S for stop what you are doing (hand on doorknob, poised to enter into the room and

Take a breath. Stop thinking of the name on the schedule that brings you stress. Put aside the last phone call. Put aside worrying that the dog stuck at home alone might be eating the trash and the kids need rides to practice and that you need to be home on time tonight. Stop and

Observe how you feel. Yes, your jaw is, as usual, tense. Your leg hurts. Loosen those. Let go of the stress. Ask yourself what you can offer this family. What do they need from you? What can you bring to the exam room behind the door; what can you be open to? And then,

Proceed – open the door.

I have known this family that makes me hope for a no-show for many years and through several children. On that day though, somehow, we connected. I asked first how their ill father was feeling. I asked about their financial struggles. I asked how school was. Then I turned to the reason for the visit. It felt softer and easier to work together. We left with smiles and, for the first time in ages, they left without an antibiotic prescription.

I do not find this physician wellness, mindfulness stuff easy. All the deep breathing tends to send me off for a nap. But on that day, giving it a try worked well. I’ll be S.T.O.P.ing again.