Ask an expert

06 Jan 2005

Need to learn meditation to cope with trauma
Hi cybershrink, I was hoping you could offer some advice or if anyone knows who I can contact. Im a 5th year Med student and Im finding it difficult to "switch off" when I get home. I am worried that because I bring home all my worries and difficult experiences from the hospital that I am going to ruin my relationship with my boyfriend and friends/family. I also realise that I will be seeing many traumatic things most days and I feel I need to become more focused in myself in order to cope. I thought that maybe learning how to meditate might help but not sure who to contact, I have always been interested in buddist meditation.
Answer 407 views

01 Jan 0001

OK, Med student,
Counselling would be a good way to go. And in my experience, yes, if you can find good guidance, buddhist meditation can help a lot ---- indeed, I once had the honour of sharing teaching duties on approaches to trauma, with a noted buddhist monk who was visiting SA. The Zen tradition of "letting go", of not clutching and attaching to such events, can be most helpful.
But personal counselling would be good, not merely to manage the current degree to which you are experiencing a sort of "spill-over" into your private life of the sadness and suffering you encounter in your job, but so as to become more effective in your work. The challenge to anyone of normal sensitivities who starts working in healthcare, is to manage to find a good balance between being sensitive enough to be usefully empathic and sympathetic and to better understand the experiences of the people you are trying to help, and to be sufficiently unattached to be able to continue to be useful to them.
We don't want doctors to be callous and so hardened hat they ignore patient's feelings . Yet nobody is helped by a surgeon who bursts into tears and weeps into our wounds.
And as well as considering Liza's specific suggestions, explore other ways of relaxing usefully when you are at home --- maybe nice aromas in the bath, and explore music, especially classical music, which is the most potentially peaceful and calming. Remember many traditional forms of classical music, like the Requiems and the Stabat Mater's, deal with facing and transcending grief, and putting it in grander perspective
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.