1. We will think more clearly.
Meditation isn’t about clearing the mind completely of all thoughts like it’s popularly made out to be. It’s about sifting through them all, organizing the important ones and dumping the distracting ones, becoming comfortable with them, and accepting them. With this, the mind is calmer and able to handle all the information from an entire day of lectures, a complicated case, and the myriad treatments needed for a 16-year-old cat with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and chronic kidney disease. Clarity of mind truly makes an awesome veterinarian.
2. We will develop a greater sense of self-awareness.
We’re not talking about good knuckling response and conscious proprioception in all four limbs here. This is more about the idea of emotional intelligence – about being aware of our place in the exam room with a client and their pet, or in a study group with friends, or on clinics with rotation mates. This is more about being aware of how fast we’re talking, about not helping a friend because that cut-throat college competitiveness still tightly grips our mentality, and about not giving a client or technician a full explanation because we’re “smarter” and they just won’t get it. If in these moments we take a second and ask ourselves, “What could we be doing better, right now?” we’ll most likely talk slower and more understandably; we’ll help our friends, they’ll learn more, and we’ll learn more; and most importantly clients and technicians will like us more. We’ll be a nicer human being for it.
3. Empathy will become second nature.
When we sit with our own thoughts in meditation, even just 5 minutes a day, we become more comfortable with them and, in turn, with ourselves. We develop a greater respect for ourselves which is easily translated to greater respect for others. With greater respect for others, we become more compassionate so we, as the old saying goes, can easily fit into someone else’s shoes (no matter the size). This cycle of compassion comes full circle. Compassion and empathy for everyone! Isn’t it refreshing?
4. We will become better listeners.
Listening goes hand-in-hand with having a clearer mind, a greater sense of self-awareness, and compassion. This is exactly what it sounds like – having an open-minded genuine interest in what someone is saying and caring deeply about it because it really matters to you. When you’re focused on what is being said by someone (whether it be in class, with clinicians, or in the exam room with a client) that person detects your genuine interest and, in turn, will be more likely to speak openly, honestly, and clearly. This makes for a successful and positive interaction that benefits everyone invested.
5. Decreased stress and anxiety.
Who doesn’t want this? The stress, anxiety, nerves, and self-doubt we feel are a product of the way we choose to respond to events throughout the day. The events themselves aren’t inherently stressful or anxiety-ridden – it’s how we interpret them that makes them seem that way. Through meditation we realize that yes, daily situations in veterinary medicine are challenging – they can cause tremendous discomfort – but that doesn’t mean we can’t confidently take them on and succeed. We’re going to be doctors, we got this. Do you really want to be stressed for the rest of your life?