While this episode was recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is all the more relevant. Meditation is an arrow we should all have in our quivers.

After over 10 years practicing Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, Dr. Jill Wener knows firsthand what severe stress and burnout feel like. In the midst of her own burnout, she was introduced to Conscious Health Meditation, and it had a profound effect on her resilience and reactivity. After 2 years of coursework, Dr. Wener completed her 3-month teacher training in Rishikesh, India in April, 2016 and now teaches meditation, among other stress reduction techniques, full-time, primarily to physicians.

This is an introduction to meditation. She starts by defining meditation and then delve into the different types, and why she has chosen to teach Conscious Health Medication over the others. She is a skeptic turned believer and helps us to start heading in that direction. In addition to meditation, she also teaches tapping, similar to exposure therapy, and we briefly discuss this as well.

Dr. Wener’s 8+ years of practicing and teaching stress-reduction modalities such as meditation and tapping, combined with the teaching and mentoring skills developed during her academic medical career, her personal experience with burnout, and her intimate understanding of the healthcare system, make her uniquely suited to teach meditation and other stress-reduction techniques to healthcare professionals from all fields.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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After over 10 years practicing Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, Dr. Jill Wiener knows firsthand what severe stress and burnout feel like. In the midst of her own burnout. She was introduced to conscious health meditation, and it had a profound effect on her resilience and reactivity. After two years of coursework, Dr. Wiener completed her three month teacher training in Rishikesh, India in April 2016. And now teaches meditation among other stress reduction techniques, full time primarily to physicians, something we could all use a bit more of right now. This is an introduction to meditation. For the uninitiated. She starts by defining meditation and then delves into the different types and why she has chosen to teach conscious health meditation over all of the others. She’s a skeptic turn believer and helps us to start heading in that direction. In addition to meditation, she also teaches tapping, similar to exposure therapy, and we briefly discussed this as well. Dr. wieder is eight plus years of practicing and teaching Stress Reduction modalities such as meditation and tapping, combined with the teaching and mentoring skills developed during her academic medical career. Her personal experience with burnout and her intimate understanding of the healthcare system, make her uniquely suited to teach meditation and other stress reduction techniques to healthcare professionals like us from all fields.
Welcome to the physicians guide to doctoring A Practical Guide for practicing physicians. Dr. Bradley Block interviews experts in and out of medicine to find out everything we should have been learning while we were memorizing Krebs cycle. The ideas expressed on this podcast are those of the interviewer and interviewee and do not represent those of their respective employers.
And now, here’s Dr. Bradley Block.
Dr. Joel Wiener. Thanks so much for being on the podcast.
Thanks for having me.
So let’s start off with your origin story. How did someone start out being a hospital Put a list internist and then become the internist Yogi.
Oh, such a lovely story. For me it started with burnout. And in 2011, they changed the residency work hours. And I don’t know where when you started when you did training, but a lot of the work ended up falling on the attendings. And that was my five year mark into being an attending and so I think it was a perfect storm, a bunch of other stuff that happened leading up to that, so I got really burnout, like it hit me like a Mack truck. It was pretty intense. And I was crying every day, one little bad thing would happen. And I would just get up and leave our office where we’d all be writing our notes and doing our documentation and go home. I just had no I had the shortest fuse and I had no ability to adapt to anything that happened to me. I wasn’t yelling at people I was just more like defeated and sad and crying and
and So,
around that time I met someone who told me they meditated twice a day. And Previous to that point, I had been the most skeptical unspiritual type a doctor, I had done some yoga before, but nothing, nothing crazy. And but something in me said, Sure, I’ll go hear your teacher speak. And when I went to go hear the teacher speak, he’s his yoga teacher from LA who was in town yoga teacher turned into a meditation teacher. And I everything he said was just like speaking to my soul. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. And I showed up. Like, I didn’t Google him, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I just was wearing my skeptical doctor pants and I was like, whatever, I’m smarter than everyone I know all the things about all the things and I’m gonna go there and I’ll just walk out and not have to do anything because I know better. And he started talking about stress and the way it affects our physiology and the way it affects our behavior. And that feeling of constantly being almost out of gas, that feeling of constantly being running on fumes. And he just spoke about that in a way that helped me understand how I why and how I had been feeling for the last couple of months before that. His course started the next day I had evening plans four nights in a row or four days in a row, about two hour one and a half to two hours each session. But I was like start me yesterday, I’m signing up, it was a week salary. So I was also very, very panicked about having to spend a lot of money on something that I didn’t know anything about no one I knew meditator This was we’ve come a long way. And in nine years, there was no one I knew, at least in my community that was meditating. And I signed up for this class and took it so that for me, and what I noticed was, oh, my god, these meditations are easy to do. It’s not mindfulness. It’s almost the complete opposite of that in terms of the actual practice. So it’s easy to do. You’re sitting comfortably with your back supported you’re not trying to control your mind at all. not fighting with what your mind does naturally. And I was having meditation experiences on the second day of class. So I was getting this like carrot approach rather than a stick approach that made me realize I’m actually doing something real and holy smokes. I cannot believe this was something that’s been in the world this whole time that I was just too skeptical or closed to realize. And I was able to fit it into my day. We carry pagers on us 24 hours a day, in my hospitalist job, depending on what we what service we’re on, but I was able to fit it into my day and make it work and I actually look forward to meditating and then my burnout went away. I mean, I started having benefits really quickly. I lost my road rage in three weeks, and
after a couple months, I just I wasn’t crying anymore. I wasn’t sad. I was
living in Chicago at the time, right?
Yeah, I was working at rush in Chicago and right,
downtown Chicago. Road Rage is probably different from rural Alabama. Road Rage right?
Well yeah, it’s not it’s not this is no fun. I wasn’t like a psychopath. I wasn’t like plowing into people and stuff, but I just didn’t get that like, panic anymore. And then I started to be like, Oh, actually the reason why I’m panicking right now is because I’m late because I left the house late so this is kind of my fault so me getting all freaked out about it isn’t going to help the situation I should have left earlier. And then usually when you get there and you’re late, the other person is even later and it all works out. So I I just kind of stopped mostly unconsciously stop sweating the small stuff but also was able to keep my head in moments where I would have been losing it and sometimes also doing additional talking myself down. So I felt great. You know, I burnout was great. I wasn’t at all thinking about anything else other than meditating is 20 minutes twice a day. All I was like thinking was I’ll meditate 20 minutes twice a day for the rest of my life because I’m never going back to how I felt before and then went on a retreat in India with my teacher. had some pretty incredible experiences there. And, like, you know, kind of, oh my god, even more amazing beyond what I had already been experiencing. And at that moment I was the, the stress, you know, compared to the rest of the group on the retreat, I was the closed minded doctor still, I was still very much like in my doctor world. And he said, Have you ever thought about becoming a teacher? And I was like, No, I’m a doctor, what do you mean I’m gonna be a hospitalist forever. And, but then I thought about it and I thought, Okay, well, like practice medicine and teach meditation and the teacher training is three months in India. So it’s a very intense training process Plus, it’s a couple years of prep work advanced coursework beforehand. So this is a pretty major undertaking. And so that was going to be my plan. hospitalist, you know, maybe point six FTP and then and then teach meditation the rest of the time. Then I had a really cool opportunity, opportunity to move overseas to China, and I had started to go Get some sort of itch of like, Hmm, maybe I’m going to be 65 one day and have been happy enough, but was starting to think that there was something else for me. And I’d be happy enough practicing medicine forever. But something else is out there and I had the opportunity to to China and that’s actually why I left my hospital, his job, moved to China for a few months, then went to India for my teacher training. And then that once I had been out of medicine for about six months, and did my teacher training and realized I had had a skill. That’s something other than medicine that I could do, that I was so so passionate about that I had personally experienced how life changing it could be. That’s when I realized I don’t think I want to go back to practicing medicine. I don’t see myself living that life anymore. I see myself doing things to help healthcare professionals to prevent them from getting to the point where I got where I was crying every day and losing it and to make everybody happier and higher performing and less stressed in at work. And at home as well. And so that’s that’s the answer.
That is quite the origin story.
Yeah.
So how do you define meditation, what makes meditation, meditation and not just sitting with your back straight in your eyes closed.
So meditation, meditation and mindfulness and yoga all kind of like tie in together. Yoga is typically thought of as physical poses that people do in order either to get exercise but but but traditionally, it’s physical poses that you would do to prepare yourself to sit in meditation. There’s all sorts of different types of meditation meditation in the Buddhist tradition. So what I what I teach them when I practice isn’t part of a religion. It comes from the Vedas, which is a body of knowledge that predates religion. Yoga comes from the Vedas. Ir VEDA, which is a holistic health practice that comes from India comes from the Vedas. There’s also Vedic warfare in Vedic architecture
the neti pot comes from and we use that all the time to learn
ology. Exactly, exactly. So, there’s a ton of really, really practical knowledge that comes from the Vedas, Buddhism and Hinduism. Both also came from the VEDA. So Buddhism, those types of meditation practices tend to be more contemplative meaning like you’re sitting and you’re focusing on something, you’re concentrating either on a word like a mantra, or your breath, or a physical sensation in your body, or what someone is guiding you through those, you tend to be sitting more upright. And those tend to be more what had been adapted to mindfulness practices. Now, they are also mindfulness practices that what we think of now as mindfulness is more adapted from the Buddhist lineage. Mine is more of more related to Hindu but it’s again, not at all religious, and it’s not Hinduism. But we are the difference is we are shifting our physiologic state rather than maintaining alertness and maintaining focus. Which is mindfulness, we are shifting our physiologic state when we meditate with my technique. The tradition is called Vedic meditation. I call it conscious health meditation for many reasons. But if you’re listening to this and wanting to look up more about it, Vedic meditation is where you would go. It’s also very similar to Transcendental Meditation. But I am not at all part of the TM, corporation or company or organization in any way. So I’m an independent teacher.
Why did you just have to clarify that?
I didn’t clarify that because tm is like an A Corp. It’s a corporation. And they teach people to meditate the same way I teach people to meditate, but they are their bigger cultural phenomenon. Some Some people love it. Some people get a little bit turned off by it because it’s a little bit. Some people find it maybe a little bit aggressive or a little bit culty. I’ve actually never been to any of their specific meetings. So I can’t speak for that. I’m just speaking for what people what people have reported back to me, but I tried to take any question. to try things out as hard as I can to take any of the trappings out of this practice because for me getting back to your question of like, what is meditation? It’s its physiology. It’s really so beautiful. I think one of the things that attracted to me attracted me to it so much is it made sense scientifically and medically to me, I didn’t have to stretch my brain to understand why it was working. It just was like, oh, okay, cool. That makes sense. So when we’re meditating, rather than sitting with our backstraight, and focusing and trying to cultivate present moment, awareness, which is awesome, and I think present moment, awareness, present moment, awareness is very important. That’s mindfulness. That’s not what I’m doing. When I’m meditating. When I’m teaching people to meditate. We’re using a mantra is the one that we use as a Sanskrit sound, and it has, there are many of them. I choose which one to give to my students, but there’s many different mantras that when you use them with the technique that I teach, they allow your your brain and body to settle into a distinct physiologic state. That is separate from sleeping, waking and dreaming, that is two to five times more restful than sleep based on the SPO. Two. So you’re actually more efficient, your body becomes more efficient. the metabolism of oxygen from your from hemoglobin is more efficient than sleep when you get to this physiologic state. And it’s super easy to get to and everybody can do it. I’ve never had a student that can’t get to it. So and you’re
seeing them that’s for conscious health meditation or for all forms of meditation
for what I teach. So people often will say that meditation mindfulness are the same thing. They’re like, Oh, I’m doing I’m on a meditation app. I’m doing a guided meditation. You could consider that but I think of those as more mindfulness and meditation is the actual transcending waking state consciousness and going to a different physiologic state, which then allows your body to it’s like defragging a computer. I also sort of think about it like a cooling protocol in the ICU, if you have cardiac arrest, and then you go, you know, you get the cooling blankets and everything to do Increase inflammation and free radicals so that the body is able to kind of cool off and then recover more quickly and have less damage from the cardiac arrest.
So that’s interesting. So you’re saying mindfulness meditation. For those who practice mindfulness meditation, you’re saying Actually, that’s not meditation? That’s something different. We’re using the same word. But actually, these are two different things.
Yes, I believe so. And there would be people who would be like, absolutely not what I’m doing is meditation. And I’m not gonna argue with them, I don’t care at all. It’s just a different you know, it’s on some level, it’s semantics. But it’s important to recognize that not all meditation is the same not all meditation requires sitting comfortably and maintaining alertness and fighting with your brain to make a do something that it’s not built to do because the brain just like the heartbeats, and it’s gonna beat all day long. The mind has thoughts all day long. And so to try to control those or, or or force the mind to do something other than is very uncomfortable and challenging. And that’s why you hear people being like, yeah, I meditated for three minutes today. And after, you know, four weeks, I moved up to five minutes. And then I stopped doing it because it was so hard. And I, you know, like, it’s not, it’s much more difficult to stay with it when it feels so challenging. And so this is so restful, and it feels so good that you come out of it feeling like you took the most amazing catnap ever.
So before we go take the deeper dive into the type of meditation that you practice, we just break down the other forms first, just so we know what’s out there and what the differences are.
Sure, sure. Do you have specific ones or you want me to
join? Well, I mean, you can, why don’t you start and then if there are any others that you don’t mention, then I’ll ask.
So mindfulness already talked about and mindfulness is a is a big umbrella. That’s gonna cover a lot of other types of meditation. So and again, I’m calling it meditation now, so I don’t, it doesn’t really matter to me, I just everyone always says At what I do is mindfulness and I just like to help educate people that there is a type of meditation out there that’s very different. So mindfulness meditation requires involves, you know, generally sitting comfortably, but with your back unsupported often with your legs crossed, but often not. And there’s a, an attempt to focus and cultivate your attention on something specific mantra breath, your body. The idea is becoming more aware in the present moment of what’s going on so that when you get into your real life, you are able to feel emotions coming up inside of you, and you’re not just completely a victim of the emotions as they come up and you can be more aware and maybe change the way you’re behaving a little bit. I’ve taken the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course I took that a few years after I learned Vedic meditation, and I loved it and I thought it was great. And it required a lot of homework and it required a lot of time to practice it. And I was just felt like, Okay, if I have to pick between one of the two, I’m going to stick with VEDA because I’ve got And such amazing results from it. And I can’t meditate all day I do want to do one to actually live my life. guided meditation or guided visualization is also a type of mindfulness because you’re, for the most part, you’re listening to what someone is saying and trying to put your attention on that and follow their instructions as they’re talking you through the sound of a waterfall or how you feel when you’re, you know, at the ocean and you hear the waves or imagining light coming through your head or you know, out of your head, whatever that is. That’s also cultivating awareness and attention. There’s chakra meditations. So chakras are energy centers throughout the body that are very much a huge central integral part of yoga practice, which we don’t always know when we go to a practice and get really sweaty. The yoga practice is all about opening and balancing these energy centers. I don’t really get into chakras much, if any at all when I teach my meditation, but that is a type of meditation where you go through There’s one at the top of your head, the corner the like your forehead and between your eyebrows, your throat, your, your chest, your heart chakra. There’s a few other ones. You can do a chakra meditation where you’re focusing on those energy centers and trying to open them or balance them. So that’s another thing. And chakras are really cool. They’re just not I’m not, I don’t have a expertise in them. And a lot of people will say, Oh, that’s too. That’s too woowoo. For me, I don’t want to get into that. But it’s actually pretty, pretty interesting. And there’s a lot of science behind it as well. So for anyone interested in taking it further, I do highly recommend that. Although studying with me isn’t, is not going to get you that what else there’s mantra meditation. So mantras. There’s tons of different types of mantras, there’s English ones, and Sanskrit ones, and German, let you know whatever language you speak, you can speak it in your own language or you can have it be some other ancient language, the ones that we use and you can say them out loud. You can say them silently. You can try to focus on them and concentrate on them in In the type of meditation I teach, you’re not focusing and concentrating on the mantra, it’s actually designed to be forgotten. Which maybe sounds a little confusing, but it’s not. You’re not trying to focus on that mantra for 20 minutes, as you’re meditating. So mantra meditation is a huge umbrella that can include mindfulness type practices that conclude what I do, which is more of a transcendental type of meditation. And that’s a umbrella term that can be there’s not just one type of that. Are there other ones that I’m
not? So that sort of sorry, the mantra meditation, you use a mantra in transcendental meditation, so as mantra meditation, the same as Transcendental Meditation.
So there’s Transcendental Meditation with like a capital T. That’s like the transcendental meditation brand. And then there is lowercase t transcendental which is just like a meditation that you do that’s going to shift your level of calm consciousness to a transcendental stage, kind of like, oh god, I’m trying to think of an example of that, you know, like Catholic, there was a lowercase E. And then there was a capital C, but I don’t remember I was a religion major in college.
I feel what they’re saying about Transcendental Meditation reminds me of like, when Bruce Lee came to America, and was teaching martial arts to Americans, and it was something that was supposed to be just within the Chinese community. And it was a problem that he was teaching it to, to non Chinese people. And I feel like that’s what you’re saying about Transcendental Meditation. It’s like, it’s this pre determined community. And if you you have to, you have to follow their rules and go within their rules and their scope and use their brand and sell their t shirts and coffee mugs.
Yes, to some extent, and bear in mind, some people who take the courses have no awareness of that and they just like learn to meditate and love it and it’s fine and some people do get much more involved. And in either way, they’re teaching people to meditate really well, and people love to practice. So. But yeah, it is a little bit more it’s like a more of a cultural community type, lifestyle kind of thing. Maybe there are types of meditation that allow you to shift to this other level of consciousness is transcendental consciousness. They’re not all capital transcendental tea, you know, capital T transcendental capital M meditation. mantras can be used for a meditation that might help you transcend waking state. mantras can also be used for mindfulness. If you think of you know people only as a mantra people sometimes meditate chanting a bunch so and and it also if you said, you know, I’m a, I’m a strong doctor, and I’m gonna kick ass at my job today. And you know, if you repeat that to yourself six times in the morning before that can also be considered a mantra and that’s English and that’s out loud. So, so there that that spectrum is very, very wide and and not very specific.
And so how did you arrive at conscious health Meditation of all of them. And I think you’ve, you’ve really covered it. But you know if you could take a deeper dive into, into, I mean, had you tried others it sounds like you tried others after you had already been a conscious health meditator and even a conscious health meditation. How did that? How did you arrive at that?
Sure when I learned that I was Vedic, so the community is Vedic meditation. So I was like zero to 60. I had no, I had done some, like, you know, very little mindfulness stuff at spas or at yoga. But I had never really been I wasn’t like looking for meditation. I was just desperate. And I was broken down enough that my consciousness cracked open just enough that I was receptive to something like this because I would not have been otherwise. Absolutely not would have, you know, if anyone listening to this is like, what is this crap? She’s just woowoo whatever. I was there, that was me. You know, I never would have been in anything like this. So. So I was I’ve met the person who told me they meditate and I went to go get the teacher. Speak. I honestly didn’t research. Not only did I not research, other types of meditation, I didn’t even research, Vedic meditation. I just signed up for the course. And it was awesome. So that that’s how I like to say it found me because it was sort of that moment in my life or something needed to change majorly. I call it conscious health meditation for a variety of reasons. I had a physical space, like a meditation, I usually teach from my home, but I when I first moved back to Atlanta, I grew up here. And so this is where I moved after my teacher training. I didn’t end up going back to China. So since 2016, I’ve been here in Atlanta, and I had the opportunity to open up like a commercial space of a meditation studio. And it wasn’t anything I expected to do. But I did and I decided the name of that was conscious health, meditation and wellness. It was not, but I was still teaching Vedic meditation. That’s what I was still calling it and then it sort of evolved over time because I teach positions. There’s also you people listening here have probably heard all sorts of horror stories about You know, the crumb crumb and Yogi Bhajan, and lots of other different guru types who have founded big movements who have done some not so good things to the people in their community. And there are some issues about that in my community as well. And I didn’t know that that happened directly to me. So I didn’t have this like big story to share. But I wanted to remove myself from any of that influence or connection. So that’s another reason why I call it conscious health meditation. So I like to be pretty forth. You know, honest about that. When asked about it, but so, for me, it’s a natural progression, but also an intentional thing as well to keep it my own community and my own brand,
so to speak to the skeptics out there, hmm. For those of us because because I’ve actually tried meditating before with my wife, we did the we did an app. We did it right before bed, because that’s really the only time that we were settled enough to do it. Yeah, man, I can’t even remember the name of the app. At this point, it’s one of the it’s one of the Uber popular ones. Yes, yes, it was headspace. And now we’re back to just scrolling our phones back right before bed. It’s you know, it didn’t, it didn’t stick. So, you know, convinced me that I should be doing it, but from a more, you know, physician skeptic kind of tilt.
Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you asked about this, because I have people telling me I’m like, it sounds too good to be true. And I agree it does. But it’s awesome. I think the only it doesn’t one thing I will say it does not fix everything. And I I was sort of sold that bill of goods a little bit when I learned so I was like, oh, if I just meditate enough, like everything in my life is gonna be perfect. And that’s not the way it works. But what I tell people and anyone that’s going to tell you that what they’re doing specifically is going to fix every problem in your life. You need to run away from them very quickly, because that’s there’s nothing that does that. There’s always going to be a side of Fact or a downside or, or an incompleteness to something you’re doing, I usually tell people 70 to 80% of things in your life, we’re going to get 70 80% better. This is if you practice consistently, this is not just taking the course, but actually doing it, taking the course and then actually doing the practice, some things in your life are going to get 50% better, some things in your life are going to get 100% better, and some things are going to be like the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, but in a good way. It’s not just that the bad things are going to get better. But there’s going to be also these wonderful enrichments to your life that you didn’t necessarily know you could have or that would that you were missing, but just kind of got worse. What’s going to get worse.
You don’t have to take that question seriously.
No, I the only thing that would get worse, I think is when you start down the path of like, it can feel a little rough. Sometimes if you start down the path, this technique, as you’re going to this two to five times more restful state than sleep. It’s unwinding stresses from your entire lifetime. stresses that stress scars that we carry around with us. If you think about a song you hear on a radio that might remind you of a breakup or a particularly painful time in your life and yours, your friend is rocking out to the song and you’re like, oh, turn softball, and your heart’s pounding, and you’re sweating and you’re crying a little bit. You can’t bear to hear but someone else is having a completely different experience. It’s something in you that has this stress scar that is that you’re carrying with you. Or maybe you smell something that reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen from when you were eight years old. And you’re like, Oh, this smells just like I could I’m right there with her God, you know, we carry these stress scars around with us, and they build up this wall around us, kind of like layers of an onion, I guess. And so you get kind of tough, and you feel like maybe you’re a little numb to the world, but it’s a survival mechanism. So it’s sometimes easier to go through life not feeling things, but also you don’t usually feel the good stuff, either when you’re that shutdown. And I think for physicians, in particular, with all the stuff that we see that just gets like layered upon layers upon layers upon us that we’re expected to just interact Realize that can happen. So as you start to peel back those layers, that’s another difference between mindfulness and this. What I’m calling metta. I’m just differentiating mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is great and burning off the stress, right then mindfulness will help get you out of your stressed out brain, right in that moment, and and calm the stress down. But what this technique is doing it’s it’s shifting your your nervous system from sympathetic, overdrive survival mode to parasympathetic activity. And that’s a healing mode, it’s rest and digest and, and healing. And so we’re actually able to reverse damage that’s that we’ve been stressed damage that we’ve been carrying around with us for days, weeks, months, years, decades. So this stuff as it comes out. Usually in meditation, sometimes you’ll be meditating and you’ll be like, Ooh, I’m anxious. Or I’m feeling annoyed or why is my you know, spouse making that weird noise when I’m trying to meditate or whatever it is. That’s just stress coming. Have you. And also as you start to become as that stress starts to peel to come out of you, you start it’s like peeling back the layers of the onion again, it can sometimes feel more raw and more vulnerable in there. But it’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful space. But it’s it’s something that’s happening gradually. But I always tell my students, it’s not like you’re going to stop having emotions. I’m not, you’re not going to forget that these bad things happen. You might feel more, you might feel you might cry more commercials, if you’re watching if you’re ever watched commercials anymore, more emotionally affected by beautiful things around you as well. Because you no longer have that wall of stress around you. So for the most part is beautiful. But for some people, at times it can feel a little sensitive. But that’s why you have me when you take my my live course with me, you have me as your teacher for life. So you can email me and text me with questions at any time. And hey, I’m feeling this and I’ll explain why. So it’s not like the apps don’t do that. You know, you can’t write into the app and say hey, I had this experience while I was meditating Any thoughts? Because it isn’t a human being with expertise. So I would say that would be the only or the only downside as a long winded answer to that question, but I think it’s an important one. Absolutely. What’s some
of the science behind conscious self meditation?
Did I answer your skeptic question, by the way?
Well, I think that’s going to be more in the science aspect. Okay.
The other thing I will say is that it’s experiential. No one, no one quite understands where they’re about to get their songs get themselves into unless they know somebody who did it. And even so you still don’t know how awesome it’s going to be. Because no one believes that they’re actually gonna be able to meditate and that they’re actually going to do it and that they’ll everyone says, Oh, my mind is the only one I am the only one with monkey mind. I’m the only one who has thoughts all day long. That get louder and crazier. When I sit down to meditate. I’m the only broken one you know, I’m too my brains too active. Everybody says that. So so I don’t have to, you know, learn the techniques. Do the class and you will experience what it’s like rather than me having to convince you. So it’s kind of nice people, you know, definitely by the fourth part of the course, but generally well before that, or meditating very easily and successfully. So the question you had said the science behind it. I mean, there’s they’ve done studies on mindfulness, a lot of that that’s one of the great things about mindfulness is when it’s been adapted and secularized from the more Buddhist religious type practices to a more secular version. There’s been a lot of studies on benefits, pain control, and depression and anxiety. The Transcendental Meditation organization has a lot of money and they have done a lot of scientific studies as well on this practice. So what I teach again, is pretty much identical because my my teacher trained in that organization for 30 years and then and then he left so that organization has a bunch of studies they have but like anything you know, if you remember there’s one study about Rifaximin. Preventing hip hop encephalopathy and it was this like, oh my god is amazing results. But it was sponsored by the drug company. So you always want to be a little careful when the study is sponsored by the organization that is profiting from from the intervention. But so there’s great data there. And so there’s data on on improve school performance for kids improved depression, anxiety, pain, and and I’m talking specifically for the type that I teach, but there’s, there’s not a lot in the meditation can’t help. It makes you it’s they’ve done studies where it prevents secondary events for coronary artery disease and people who have already had events it can lower blood pressure, Gazprom so yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s you have the more benefits, the more consistent you are with the practice, but so there’s some pretty cool data and I think overall, the the body of the data suggests that it has a lot of really great impacts, but I think that studying meditations really hard because I I know that like when my students are coming to me, when they’re coming in, they’re choosing to learn to meditate because they really want to learn to meditate. They don’t like, that’s the choice that they’ve made for themselves. They’re going to be much more open and excited about it and committed to it, then if it’s something that like work is paying for, for example, that they’re like, Sure, why not some bias there? Yeah, yeah, exactly. So So and I, you know, I think that met it, it’s like a little slippery. It’s I think it’s a little bit hard to pin down and it can be frustrating. But when you do the practice, you feel the benefits. It almost stops mattering about the data, because it’s like, well, I’m doing it. I have this practice. I’m doing it I feel amazing. Data is great data helps make things more particularly something like meditation, it makes it more accepted by the mainstream scientific community, but it’s ancient knowledge that’s been around for thousands of years, if not longer. It’s it’s science. It’s science but in a difference presented differently. You know,
I wonder if there’s a minimally effective Right, like, at some point, if you don’t do it for long enough, you’re really not going to see benefits. And if you do it for longer it starts to be diminishing returns. I wonder if there’s an inflection point?
Sure, sure. Well, in my, in my technique from what I’ve been taught, at least, so that the man who started the transcendental meditation movement, who brought this technique over from people who were mostly like, monks and people who meditated all day long, he, he adapted this technique to people like you and me who have jobs and families and eat pizza and live in the world and drive cars and stuff. And so he, from what I’ve been told, tested it out. So right now it’s 20 minutes twice a day, but like, will it work with an hour once a day or two hours you know, and 20 minutes twice a day. In this in this type of meditation and and other types of meditation seems to be what people come out with as the sweet spot. I teach my course live. And in my live course, I do a ceremony on the first day and sounds good. Beautiful, but it’s you know, definitely for me it was outside the box for what I was used to, but I was I didn’t care. I thought it was lovely. I give a mantra to each person. And I’m teaching a practice, it’s 20 minutes twice a day, and my students are getting there are not 6 billion mantras. So not every student gets a different one. But it’s individualized to each student. I also teach an online course and both of my courses are CME accredited get CME for taking my courses. My, and I’m getting somewhere with this, I promise my online course. I use a this everyone gets the same mantra. And it’s 15 minutes twice a day, instead of 20 minutes twice a day, the type of mantra I use in the online courses just slightly less powerful because the students who take that don’t have that full access to me for a lifetime. And it’s important to have that ongoing contact with the teacher. But even with a different mantra, different, slightly different type of mantra that’s used in the same way. And the 15 minutes twice a day. My students are having incredible results who are taking it online, so you don’t necessarily need to go above 20 minutes twice a day. It’s like your receptors, your bliss, receptors are already full and there’s no need to stay in. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. And if you think about like dunking yourself in a swimming pool, you don’t need to dunk longer to get more wet, you’re already wet. But the 15 minutes also has been quite effective. So I think you can go a little bit less to that less than that. The 20 minutes, but generally I say less than 13 minutes is not going to be as effective.
Interesting. So where can people find those courses? My website,
I have a website meditation in medicine calm, and that’s going to have all the information about my online courses, my retreats that I do so I have a retreat for women and healthcare that I do in October at mirrorball spa. It’s the most amazing spot ever, and that’s all types of women in healthcare. But we’re not we’re it’s basically meditation and enjoying the spa and I do a little PowerPoint free little group lecture on Vedic knowledge and how it relates to life as a woman in health. Healthcare. So that’s really focused on the meditation and the stress reduction, I do another event called transformed with with my colleague, Marjorie Stiegler, who that’s more of a professional development, life transformational event. And we do that in January in Mexico. So registration for both of those are open for October this year in January of next year, and then the online courses as well. And I do another technique called tapping, which we haven’t really gotten into here. But that’s something else I do. That’s another really cool technique that helps people more with like specifics. If you want to global global life overhaul, you want to get more efficient at your job, you want to be happier, you want to be less reactive, meditations, what you want to do, but if you have a specific thing you’re trying to get over, you’re having specifically anxiety or a difficult decision to make or a phobia or trauma, difficult relationships, that’s, you can use this thing called tapping. So I have tapping question As well on that website,
what exactly is tapping.
So tapping is also called the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. And it is a technique that I first learned about when I was teaching my meditation course at a medical conference, the psychiatrists and psychologists came and they talked about using tapping and a few others similar modalities, with their veteran patients at the VA who had PTSD and the incredible results that they were getting. So I heard about it from a very, maybe a sanction inside the box source. And then I’ve heard about it more outside of that and people it’s it’s similar to maybe energy work, but you use the same meridians as an acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine. But instead of using needles, you tap on them. And most of the meridians we use are on the face in the chest and you are basically tapped in and it works really really the the most effectively if you work one on one with a coach but you can also find free tapping videos on YouTube if you want to, you say negative things, whatever it is. bother you, let’s say you have a phobia of flying. As you tap through the meridians, you’re going to be saying out loud, I have this fear of flying, I’m afraid that we’re going to crash, I’m afraid that I’m gonna, you know, lose my life. I’m afraid that whatever it is you’re afraid of you say it over and over again, as you’re tapping, it actually sends Calming Signals to the hippocampus, as you’re saying it so it decouples that trigger from stress. And so the hippocampus is then not sending that stress message to the amygdala. And the amygdala is not going off into fight or flight. So you basically are changing the way your brain is reacting in the face of things that used to be very stressful, and it works very quickly. It’s very powerful. It’s incredible. I love it so much. And the results, if done right. are, they’re permanent, like you don’t have to keep tapping to get rid of the phobia. Once the phobia is gone, the phobia is gone. So I do that as well. I have an online course about using tapping for physician burnout. And I do a lot of tapping workshops at my retreats as well because people love it and you can do it very, you don’t have to get a full training in it to be able to tap on your own. That’s pretty much everything I do and teach people is to be a self sufficient practitioner at that. So I’m not guiding people through meditation, I’m teaching people specific techniques that they can do on their own without any apps, or they put their phone away. They meditate on their own same thing. Tapping, yes, you can work with me in person. But once you’ve done enough, a few sessions, then you are familiar with what to do. And you can just kind of keep it simple and treat yourself with it. It’s interesting.
It sounds familiar. It sounds similar to exposure therapy, for phobias, where you just started thinking about it and you look at pictures of it, and then you get a little closer to it and then eventually you just become habituated to it.
Yes. And the only difference is that as you were doing those sequential exposures, you will tap as you’re saying out loud, what emotion you’re having about it, what the fear is or what you’re afraid is going to happen and so what happens like, even faster and even more, it’s very streamlined. Right? So you don’t have to you can just think about it and tap on it you don’t actually have to like do it when you’re on an airplane in order to benefit from it. So you can do it sequentially like you were just suggesting as well. All right,
well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today and your website that’s where you can find all the courses Gil Wiener calm, correct. Spelling I have
comm w e n er that’s my like website for everything but I meditation in medicine calm is my website that’s more geared towards doctors to the programs that I do for doctors. So if you want to see more doctor specific programs and meditation in medicine, calm and then I’m on social media as well. Instagram and Twitter are at Gil Wiener MD. Remember it’s w e n er, and then Facebook. I have way too many professional Facebook pages and it’s Instagram and Twitter are much better if you’re like actually wanting to follow me And see what I put out into the world more streamlined, more streamlined. Yeah. And I tend to post there more often
will include all that in the show notes. Again, thank you very much for your time.
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. This was fun.
That was Dr. Bradley Block at the physicians guide to doctoring. He can be found at physicians guide to doctoring comm or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have a question for a previous guest, or have an idea for a future episode, send a comment on the web page. Also, please be sure to leave a five star review on your preferred podcast platform. We’ll see you next time on the physicians guide to doctoring.
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