Breathe by
100
(129 Stories)

Prompted By Meditation

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Seeing patients in clinic can be draining, especially if you don’t have control over your schedule.  Every slot is filled, people are always waiting, and it is hard to meet expectations—those that people have of you, and the ones you have of yourself.  In just a few minutes, you have to listen, make assessments, formulate opinions, come up with plans and have a human interaction.  And document. There is always work generated that can’t be done within the timeframe of the visit.  The only humane schedule factors in time for everything, but humane schedules are not a given.

It was easy to lose focus and dither the time away, getting lost in e-mail or reports, working through the day without a break. I decided to prioritize finding time to physically leave the office at least once a day.

Compared to that scenario, administrative work seemed like a breeze.  Sure, there was an endless pile of communications, reports, meetings, conflicts and expectations–but the issues were mostly not life and death and there was more opportunity for slack.  When I took on a primarily administrative position, it made the hours in clinic less overwhelming.

And yet, administration did come with special headaches, part of which was learning how to prioritize and manage time that wasn’t divided into rigid patient visit slots.  It was easy to lose focus and dither the time away, getting lost in e-mail or reports, working through the day without a break. I decided to prioritize finding time to physically leave the office at least once a day.

There was an estuary not far from the office, where creeks lingered before joining San Francisco Bay.  The Pacific Flyway would bring birds traveling through in abundance, sheltering in the few wetlands that remained still protected from airport and industrial development.  There was a moderately unkempt pullout for a few cars with a battered picnic table nearby.  It wasn’t unusual to see people sitting in their cars, looking out the windshield, maybe eating a sandwich, just taking a break.  Sometimes they would even step outside the car.  I would do the same thing.

I started do my own form of meditation as I sat in the car—closing my eyes and concentrating on my breathing.  Slowly, slowly inhale, feel the air expanding my chest starting from the diaphragm then spreading upwards and outwards to complete fullness.  Then slowly, slowly, slowly exhale, letting the air passively escape and muscles relax, and settling for a moment before restarting the cycle.  I would count 10 long breathing cycles before opening my eyes and thinking about getting back to work.  It was surprisingly helpful.

Over the years, this breathing has become been useful in the dentist chair, on plane rides, and in the middle of the night when I ruminate and can’t sleep. And sometimes I feel that I am back at the estuary, finding just a few moments that are mine alone while the world falls away.

 

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry


Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. Nirvana comes in many different ways for many different peoples – glad you found yours.

  2. What a wonderful practice you’ve created for yourself Khati, as you often find yourself back at that peaceful estuary.

    My late friend Renee loved to garden and would stand just looking over the lawn at the flowers and shrubs she’d lovingly planted.

    Apparently it was a family joke that her kids would say, “Mommy’s looking”.
    I think for Renee those were moments of peaceful meditation.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love the way you found a way to relax and nourish yourself, through deep breathing and finding tranquility in nature, Khati. Work demands can get the better of us. One needs to replenish and you found that way. As a singer, I have to be able to fill my lungs deeply, but quickly – not the same, but nourishing nonetheless. Music is the fulfillment.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Music is another way to find a deep connection that goes beyond the monkey mind ruminations—as you know well. When it becomes a chant, it is also powerful. Taps into something deep. Thanks for the reminder.

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