An 80-Year-Old’s Letter to a Doctor

My Dear Dr. René,

I think I have been visiting you now for more number of years than I can remember. My age is to be blamed for my poor memory. At 80, I can hardly remember much. Yet, what I can never forget is your pleasing smile each time you saw me enter your clinic.

And the patience with which you listened to my never-ending health woes... and the brilliance with which you diagnosed the problem and treated it – I’m eternally grateful.

As I was sipping my morning coffee today, I happened to come across an article in a health magazine which said that according to a survey, nearly 78 percent of the doctors become patients themselves. I was astonished and worried at the same time, for I would never want my favourite family doctor to fall sick! The article said that since the job of a doctor demands them to be available all the time, they are hardly able to get sufficient rest and are also quite stressed out.

After reading the article, I called up a friend of mine, Dr. Devi Shetty, a famous cardiac surgeon in Bangalore (whom I once happened to meet on a visit to India). He told me something very interesting which I’d like to share with you. He said that while a doctor’s body needs to endure long hours of standing to perform an operation, his mind has to be equally or more fit to endure the stressful long hours. This is when he let me in on his secret: meditation.

Dr. Shetty also said that a surgeon getting into pressure and anxiety does not help the patient and so meditation helps keep the mind calm and relaxed so that we are able to support the patient in turn. I was quite touched by his words and immediately felt the need to write to you and share this.

I do realize doctor that considering your extensive experience in the profession, I’m in no position to give you any word of advice. Yet because you have always been so kind to me, not just as a family doctor but as a friend and guide all through these years, I would just request you to pay heed to this. Meditation is a very simple yet extremely effective technique, so I hear from a few friends - some of whom are doctors who practice meditation themselves. They shared varying benefits of practicing meditation. This very young-at-heart lady has taken the liberty of demanding your attention for a little while longer.

#1: Positive Attitude

I read that meditation helps give a positive mental outlook. I think this would be particularly important in a profession like yours where you keep listening to so many patients sharing their challenges. Meditation can really keep you positive, balanced and unshaken even while you offer them solace.

#2: Energy Booster

The newspaper report said that meditation can instantly charge you up. Being on your toes all the time is not very easy and there may be times when you feel stressed out and pulled down on energy. Maybe you can try meditating then. The report mentioned that just 20 minutes of meditation can give you such deep rest and refresh you for the day.

#3: Makes You More Patient With Your Patients

Now I know that you have oodles of patience in you (I have seen you interact with each patient with a smile and keen interest in listening to their problems). But I’m just sharing what I read in the article. Meditation can really help increase our patience. The report also said that the virtue of patience is the most relevant in the field of medicine. And this is where it can help doctors deal with so many different kinds of patients each day, each moment in an effective way.

#4: Gives You More Time

I remember you once sharing with me when your six-year-old daughter was sick and needed you to be with her at home. You said in a profession like yours, there is hardly any room for family time. So when I read in the article that meditation can even help balance work and personal life, I was instantly reminded of you.

The report said that regular practice of meditation helps improve time management and focus so that you are able to give your 100 percent to what you are doing. This means that when you are with your family, you can actually spend quality time with them (however little it may be) which they will truly cherish. Maybe you can try this out too. And if it helps you manage your time better, it would mean you can spend more time with your daughter. Wouldn’t that be nice?

#5: Increases Intuitive Ability

There was an interesting fact about the practice of medicine which caught my eye. It said that not all diagnosis is blood report-based. Doctors need to be highly intuitive to diagnose the condition and prescribe corrective treatment. Now I understand how you were able to tell merely by feeling my pulse that I had not eaten something right for dinner the previous evening and so my stomach was upset which caused fever!

Of course, there is no denying that you have earned this intuitive ability in your work experience over the years. But you know doctor, if you practice 20 minutes of meditation daily, you can enhance this ability even more and intuition would come to you much faster! That article said that meditation helps improve clarity of mind and makes you more intuitive.

How can docs meditate?

  • All you need to do is just sit comfortably in a quiet corner, close your eyes and be with yourself. You may start with 10 minutes and gradually increase it to 20 as you get comfortable.
  • See what time suits you best for meditation. You may do it while going to work for 10 minutes (if you are not driving). Before a surgery, meditation can be the best thing to do. It instantly calms the mind and sharpens focus.
  • Once you start experiencing its benefits, you may want to encourage at least one doctor or nurse on your team every week to follow suit. The more doctors, the better they can get!

Before I end this letter doctor, there’s just one last thing I’d like to share with you. I have a friend, Ms. Bente Skovborg – she’s a senior craniosacral therapist (CST) who also meditates. She once told me that regularly meditating has enhanced the loving and caring side of her personality which has immensely helped her as a doctor. She feels she has become much more humane in dealing with her patients, which for her is extremely important when she takes CST sessions.

I would only say one thing which I have experienced in my life – meeting a good doctor means 50 percent of your problem taken care of. I was extremely lucky to have met a doctor like you to take care of me and I would always wish more and more people to receive this loving care from you. And I think meditation can only add more to what you are already gifted with.

With lots of love and warm regards,

Elizabeth Casey

Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks

Written by Pritika Nair

Based on inputs by Bharathy Harish and Chinky Sen, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher

Founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,The Art of Living is an educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. Mehr