I participated in a Mindfulness Meditation workshop a few day ago. I took an 8 week course about a year ago, and have found it quite difficult to commit to a daily meditation practice on a regular basis. I always find some excuse for why I can’t find 15 minutes in a day to sit still, quiet my mind, and just focus on my breath. What are some of my excuses? I’m too rushed in the morning, I’m too busy when I get to the office, I don’t take a break during the day, eat lunch at my desk in between patients, and by the time I get home I am too tired, and just want to watch tv, or read. At night I lie in bed thinking that I’ll just focus on my breath for a few minutes, but soon enough, I fall asleep.
Studies have shown that there are actual physical changes in your brain when you meditate regularly. Depression can be reduced or eliminated and sleep is improved.
At this workshop, one of the instructors talked about how your meditation practice can be compared to flossing. She said that sure it is annoying to floss ever day, but once she started doing it on a regular basis, her teeth and gums felt much better, and now she flosses every day, and she also is committed to meditating every day as well.
Our teacher, Dr. Joe Flanders, then asked me how do I get my patients to floss, what do I tell them? At first I just wanted to say, “FLOSS OR DIE!”. I thought better of it, and didn’t want to sound too alarmist, so I just explained the link between your oral health – i.e., the health of your gums, and how this is so closely connected to your overall health. Gum disease is linked to diabetes, heart disease, premature labour, and other illnesses.
What’s my point in all this? I have been flossing my teeth daily all my life and have been encouraging my patients to do so as well, but with very little compliance. Now I want to incorporate a new habit into my own daily routine- mindful meditation. No excuses! If I can expect my patients to floss, and don’t accept their excuses, then I can surely find time in my day to meditate.