After a busy 10 days of teaching and travel on the topic of physician burnout, there is nothing more wonderful than the feeling of coming home. For me, coming home is about appreciating the comforts and familiarity of home, being with family, returning to the routines of daily life such as going to the gym and patient care, cooking and eating foods that are familiar and nourishing, and enjoying the simplicity of being in a space that I know well and where I feel most loved and accepted. For you, it may be something different, but I think we all know this feeling.
I remember a similar feeling when I was in medical school and residency, taking call multiple nights a week and being away from home for 30+ hours at a time. The really tough nights of managing critically ill patients, sometimes all by ourselves with no support, felt like surviving a war zone. These stories of multiple hour surgeries back-to-back or how many weeks of double shifts are sometimes passed around the doctoring and nursing communities as badges of honor, like veterans comparing battle scars. Also not unlike battle scars they can leave an emotional and psychological toll beyond the capacity of sustainable mental and physical endurance.
Post-call and exhausted, just leaving the hospital campus and getting into my car felt like a coming home. It had a special feeling of relief, warmth, recharge and rejuvenation.
So how do we create this experience of coming home when we need it most?
I have been coaching a physician who shared with me he is so ‘beyond burnout’ that he can’t remember what is feels like to be himself anymore. Metaphorically, he feels like he doesn’t have feet anymore, and has lost his sense of self and grounding. We are working together using simple and practical mindfulness techniques to help him find his inner grounding once again. In a sense, he is coming back home to himself.
One unique element about a Wellness for Doctors retreat experience is that we create an environment so that you can have the opportunity to come home. Of course, you won’t be in your physical home, but we create the space and support so that you can come home to yourself. As far as I know, we are the only CME program offering a rejuvenating experience like this.
Our retreats help you slow down so you can remember what it feels like to have a home within your own body/mind. You will learn and practice scientifically proven mindfulness tools so you can be more present and grounded in your
life. Simply focusing your mind on feeling your feet on the ground and connecting with the physical sensation of breath has a powerful calming effect and focuses your nervous system.
The feeling of coming home is unique for everyone who comes on retreat, but some participants have described it as a feeling of settledness, a warmth, a familiarity of coming back to our bodies, a place of safety, a congruence of values, a sense of connecting heart and mind, an experience of gratitude, and a feeling of aliveness.
Interested in coming home to yourself in a supportive community of like minded doctors? Join us on one of our retreats and explore the many ways you can return home feeling recharged and rejuvenated. We hope you will be able to join us for a once in a lifetime retreat experience that will positively change your life and help you rediscover a place of home within yourself!
Dr. Michael Amster leading a group meditation at Stanford Medicine X, September 2016