Words Matter  

The average person speaks about 16 000 words in one day. Sixteen thousand words spoken over 24 hours to your pets, your neighbour, your partner, maybe even yourself. Learning this made me wonder; how many words do I generate and receive during a day in clinic, interacting with patients, their families, colleagues, and everyone inContinue reading “Words Matter  “

CaRMS: 5 key things to keep in mind

It’s official, spooky season is around the corner and so is CaRMS. I went through this process not too long ago myself, and as stressful and challenging it is, you WILL get through it in one piece! I wanted to share a few thoughts I had along the way. Between covering the multiple financial costsContinue reading “CaRMS: 5 key things to keep in mind”

Post-pandemic lessons

In April 2020, Tomos Roberts, a 26-year film maker, released a poem called “The Great Realization”. It has now been viewed millions of times and is available in multiple languages. Through it, he provokes reflection about the resilience of communities the world over during the COVID-19 pandemic – about the potential good that came ofContinue reading “Post-pandemic lessons”

The power of using “and” in the place of “but”

Imagine you’ve just come out of an observed clinical encounter with a patient. You are eager to hear the positive feedback and constructive criticism from a supervisor. You sit down with your staff and they say: “You did a great job, but -” How would you feel? Let’s imagine instead they say: “You did aContinue reading “The power of using “and” in the place of “but””

Sleep: the simple answer to being a good clerk?

On our most recent podcast episode (to be released soon) with Dr. Justin Sanders, he told us that his best wellness tip for trainees in medicine was simple: to prioritize sleep. Even when there are tasks left on your to do list, or you feel like you haven’t been studying enough, prioritizing sleep can potentiallyContinue reading “Sleep: the simple answer to being a good clerk?”

The power of awe (and why we should schedule time to feel it) – a suggested podcast

In a podcast published in March of last year from “The science of happiness”, guest Chris Duffy goes through a practice that helps people tap into a sense of awe. Awe is an emotion often described as a combination of fear and surprise, with a component of wonder or amazement. Awe is often conjured byContinue reading “The power of awe (and why we should schedule time to feel it) – a suggested podcast”

Meditation and other spiritual practices enhance the enduring personal changes associated with Psilocybin

For as long as illicit substances have been around, psychedelic drug users have reported transcendental, mystical-type experiences. According to researcher Roland Griffiths, these deeply meaningful events can result in profound personal transformations. Quantum change experiences, as Griffiths calls them, result in fundamental changes to a person’s prosocial attitudes and psychological well-being. Different from behavioural changes,Continue reading “Meditation and other spiritual practices enhance the enduring personal changes associated with Psilocybin”

Working through change

The Mindful Medical Learner · Fall to Winter Transition – Guided Meditation Seasonal change can have substantial impacts on our mood and wellbeing. Shorter days with less sunlight and colder weather may lead to feelings of low mood and energy that deserve attention. Light helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, and less vitamin D canContinue reading “Working through change”

Minding the Gap: Recreating the Research Landscape for Mindfulness?

In a recent article by Van Dam, Nicholas T et al. “Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation”, authors critically reviewed the research-scape surrounding mindfulness-based interventions. They raised multiple issues with the current state of evidence on the topic, notably misinterpretation of results and subsequent claims thatContinue reading “Minding the Gap: Recreating the Research Landscape for Mindfulness?”

Building lasting habits

Working towards happy, healthy habits that stick is challenging. The habits we might seek out for ourselves – eating better, exercising regularly, making more time for wellness – are difficult to invest in because they are largely difficult to maintain on an everyday basis. If you’re thinking about turning a goal into a habit, thinkContinue reading “Building lasting habits”

A case study of the issues in Mindfulness research: mindfulness and implicit bias

Image Source Given that mindfulness encourages a focus on the present moment experience, it may minimize the weight of past experiences on present moment interpretations. Leuke et al., based at Central Michigan University, investigated the potential of mindfulness to reduce implicit out-group bias (1). When ideas and memories develop into automatic associations, we refer toContinue reading “A case study of the issues in Mindfulness research: mindfulness and implicit bias”

Engaging Mindfully with Our Partners: Relationship Satisfaction and Well-Being

Now more than ever, with a global pandemic keeping many physically apart, staying connected to the special people in our lives is important. Ensuring our relationships are getting the right kind of attention while managing multiple external commitments can be challenging, especially now that the rhythm of our usual routines has been disrupted by theContinue reading “Engaging Mindfully with Our Partners: Relationship Satisfaction and Well-Being”

The Mind on Art: Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy

Art therapy uses creative media like painting, sketching, sculpting, to promote self-exploration and introspection. It is an adjuvant (or alternative for some) to conventional psychotherapy in which the mode of communication is more direct and discussion based. Mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) simply adds another layer to this process, incorporating the attitudes of mindfulness into theContinue reading “The Mind on Art: Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy”

Why making self-forgiveness a part of your life will make you a better physician

“Your task is not to seek for love,but merely to seek and findall the barriers within yourselfthat you have built against it.” ~ Rumi Medical students have a tendency to be perfectionists. However, mistakes are an unavoidable and critical component of our training. If mistakes are inevitable, it follows that we must learn to be more forgiving to ourselves.Continue reading “Why making self-forgiveness a part of your life will make you a better physician”

Mindful Political Engagement

It is a common misconception that to be mindful is to never feel outrage, or never have strong responses to what is going on around us; and if one does get upset or angry, that is evidence that they are not mindful. This notion fails to capture what being mindful actually means. Mindfulness is notContinue reading “Mindful Political Engagement”

Emotional Support, Empathy, and Relating: A Mindful Perspective

Not too long ago, I found myself speaking to a patient about their recent cancer diagnosis. It was their first clinic visit in oncology, and the principal goal of the discussion was to clarify the different treatment options for this new-found invasive disease. It was a challenging encounter; I wanted to be a point ofContinue reading “Emotional Support, Empathy, and Relating: A Mindful Perspective”

Starting the day with Mindfulness

It’s 6:00 AM. Your alarm clock starts ringing and you grab your phone to turn it off. Immediately, you begin to scroll through Instagram, then Facebook, then all the rest of your social media accounts. Soon enough, you’re checking your emails, and you happen to glance at the time. 6:34 AM. Oh gosh, going toContinue reading “Starting the day with Mindfulness”

The potential role of mindfulness-based interventions in addiction medicine

Dr. Eric Garland is leading the field of mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD), which over 15 million Americans are estimated to meet the criteria for. His lab at the University of Utah has now conducted multiple randomized controlled trials (RCT) targeting patients with chronic pain and opioid misuse. They hypothesizeContinue reading “The potential role of mindfulness-based interventions in addiction medicine”

The Power of Walking

“Meditation isn’t for me; I could never sit still for so long”.  Sound familiar? Well, the good news is, you don’t have to. Formal seated meditation is only one way to practice mindfulness. When you’re engaged in a seated meditation, you’re making it easier to focus the attention – generally the eyes are closed, andContinue reading “The Power of Walking”

Mindfulness and Attention Control

The attention economy – that’s what they call it in Silicon Valley. This term, “attention economy”, was coined by Herbert Simon, a psychologist and economist. It refers to the notion that our attention is a finite resource, and a constant source of competition. Consumer technology and the influence of social media means that the majorityContinue reading “Mindfulness and Attention Control”

Gratitude: Bringing Awareness to the Positives in Life

It’s been a long day at the hospital, and you’re finally getting home. You’re tired, you barely have the energy to shower and eat. Your mind keeps wandering back to that procedure you weren’t able to complete, that plan you didn’t flesh out as well as you wanted to, the wrong answer you gave toContinue reading “Gratitude: Bringing Awareness to the Positives in Life”

When You’ve Got Too Much on Your Plate: Mindful Eating

How do you eat? It’s a strange question: we usually ask ourselves what we’re eating, when we’re eating, or where we’re eating, but we don’t often wonder how we’re eating. How we eat, though, might be key in our feelings of food enjoyment and satiety. It could influence food cravings, emotional eating, and weight loss.Continue reading “When You’ve Got Too Much on Your Plate: Mindful Eating”

Becoming Mindful of our own Biases

Implicit bias can be thought of as the space that exists between our unconscious attitudes and assumptions and our conscious belief systems. In medicine, this unconscious bias can be a powerful determinant of the quality of care that we provide to a given patient. As medical trainees, we receive countless lectures on the importance ofContinue reading “Becoming Mindful of our own Biases”

Nature-Based Mindfulness

Spending time outdoors is invigorating, and we probably don’t do it as much as we would like to or as much as we should. Whether that be taking a fall hike through the mountain, spending a warm summer day by the water, or if you live in the city, walking up Mount Royal for aContinue reading “Nature-Based Mindfulness”

Art Museums and Medicine: Art observation as a complementary approach for mindfulness and the practice of Medicine

Visual Arts and Medicine At first sight, these two domains may seem completely different. However, history shows us that Medicine and Art developed from one another. For example, da Vinci and numerous scientists and physicians’ dissection drawings helped us develop a better understanding of the human body. A contemporary example that most current medical studentsContinue reading “Art Museums and Medicine: Art observation as a complementary approach for mindfulness and the practice of Medicine”

Beyond the Patient: How Mindfulness can be Supportive to Patient Caregivers

As healthcare professionals, our care for people extends beyond the individual patient sitting before us. This is particularly true when treating patients undergoing cognitive decline who rely heavily on caregivers around them for support. Family caregivers often face substantial challenges adjusting to a new role managing the health of their loved one. So, what canContinue reading “Beyond the Patient: How Mindfulness can be Supportive to Patient Caregivers”

Loving Kindness Meditation: building a stronger sense of self and fighting emotional fatigue

The concept of “self” is critical to our wellbeing. We feel it when we are not truly ourselves, we’re off somehow. I recognize that feeling in myself when I’ve become pre-occupied with upcoming project deadlines or when I stop paying as much attention to my true interests and needs. And I think there’s an importantContinue reading “Loving Kindness Meditation: building a stronger sense of self and fighting emotional fatigue”

Mindfulness and Grief

Mindfulness accepts some degree of suffering as part of the human condition. Mindfulness-based approaches have shown efficacy in depression, anxiety, and trauma. For bereaved patients with similar symptoms, could it also help them cope with their loss? A study by Thieleman et al. done in 2014 examined such an approach in approximately 40 bereaved participants,Continue reading “Mindfulness and Grief”

What does self-care look like?

Healthcare professionals are often faced with difficult situations and multiple stressors, which can impact their well-being. An essential skill to develop in order to preserve a certain level of wellness is self-care. Self-care is defined as activities performed independently by an individual to promote and maintain personal well-being (Sanchez-Reilly et al.) The evidence on self-careContinue reading “What does self-care look like?”

The role of the healthcare provider in teaching mindfulness techniques

The scope of work carried out by primary care providers is far-reaching, including initial steps of diagnosis, subsequent treatment planning, and follow-up of active disease. Preventative medicine is also an important part of the job and it encompasses screening modalities and patient education, a large part of which involves counselling on lifestyle modifications such asContinue reading “The role of the healthcare provider in teaching mindfulness techniques”

Sleep and Mindfulness: What does the evidence say?

Sleep quality and quantity is increasingly recognized as a key determinant of physical and mental well-being. The long work hours and demanding schedules of medical professionals and trainees can predispose people to serious sleep deprivation, putting health care professionals at substantially higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease (to name a few).Continue reading “Sleep and Mindfulness: What does the evidence say?”

Can a mindful approach to ordering investigations reduce inappropriate testing?

Appropriate resource allocation in the healthcare setting should be a factor to consider in all clinical encounters. It is the guiding principle behind the group Choosing Wisely Canada, which was created in 2014 in response to the growing need to cut down on unnecessary testing and medical procedures which represent 30% of all interventions performedContinue reading “Can a mindful approach to ordering investigations reduce inappropriate testing?”

A psycho-physiological model for breathing exercises

At the core of mindfulness practices is breathing which has been linked to stress reduction and relaxation. Many different techniques can be employed. Generally linked to yoga, Prana-yama breathing, from the root ‘’prana’’ which means both ‘’breath’’ and ‘’energy’’, aims to consciously regulate the breath either with it is frequency or deepness. Another technique isContinue reading “A psycho-physiological model for breathing exercises”

The power behind “I can do this” – Part Two

So tell us, how was your week of positive self-statements? Did you notice a difference? Did you perform better during the day, or notice being in a better mood? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about your experience with self-talk! Now, let’s delve a bit deeper. As seen in our previousContinue reading “The power behind “I can do this” – Part Two”

The power behind “I can do this” – Part One

No, you’re not crazy. You’re not the only one who talks to themselves, who has a constant internal monologue running throughout the day. Everyone has that little voice inside their heads, whether you notice it often, or not. Mindfulness can help us become more aware of that inner speech, with less judgment and with aContinue reading “The power behind “I can do this” – Part One”

Do surgical trainees benefit from practicing mindfulness?

It is no secret that surgeons often work in high-stakes environments and they are under a constant pressure to perform. Although there has been a lot of work to show that mindfulness can positively influence the patient-physician encounter, how does it impact surgical skills? Stress is also a known modulator of performance so whether aContinue reading “Do surgical trainees benefit from practicing mindfulness?”

Why is Mindfulness so Challenging for Healthcare Workers?

So maybe you’re curious about establishing a mindfulness practice. As with acquiring any new skill, there’s a bit of a learning curve involved, and it has more to do with you than with the practise of meditation itself. One of the most common concerns about learning to meditate for the first time is “how doContinue reading “Why is Mindfulness so Challenging for Healthcare Workers?”

Mindfulness training: short and sweet does the trick

A recent study out of the United-States is of interest to medical students who are interested in mindfulness, but feel that it requires too much time commitment to learn about the practice. The study shows how a short introduction to mindfulness might be just as good as a longer introduction course.     This randomized control trialContinue reading “Mindfulness training: short and sweet does the trick”

Can mindfulness make me less emotionally reactive?

Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in reducing emotional impulsivity. However, the mechanism underlying this observation is not well understood. It has been suggested that mindfulness reduces “knee-jerk”  emotional responses through three related processes: it allows people to engage with an emotion more by paying closer attention to it, it encourages awareness of theContinue reading “Can mindfulness make me less emotionally reactive?”

Welcome to McGill Med Mindfulness

Welcome to McGill Medicine Mindfulness! We are super excited to start sharing with you everything about mindfulness, how it is used in healthcare, and how it can help each and every one of us. Let’s start with a quick dive into the summary of an article written by Matias P. Raski, a medical student atContinue reading “Welcome to McGill Med Mindfulness”