I have been working with the medical school this past year, designing a reflection curriculum for medical students, leading workshops on the front and back end for the third year medical students, and even leading a workshop on reflection and mission for the doctors in the program. It has been really good work, concentrated on how self-awareness, authenticity, and intentionality can help create happier, healthier, better doctors which, of course, means a better patient experience and, hopefully one day, happier, healthier patients.
Last week, I saw the third year medical students for a closing discussion and I was struck by the importance of practicing.
It’s a concept that I really love– the idea of repeating something regularly in a journey to acquire proficiency at it.
The thing about practice is that it is always rooted in intention, the desire we have to do something in a certain way (not just how it comes out but how we are when we are doing it).
And so when I was talking to the medical students last week, I found myself talking about their medical practice in the same way that you might sometimes hear a yoga teacher talk about practice, the idea of returning to the mat to see what your mind and body and heart are telling you and then coming away from that with an intention for the day or the rest of the day or the next day (depending on when you practice) or, at the very least, the very next moment. Nothing has to be set in stone; if you see something in your practice that isn’t how you want it or you to be, it doesn’t have to stay. You always have the chance to shift, I told them.
Practice. It’s really what life is about. We try so hard to barrel into perfect and then maintain it, maintain it, maintain it. But what if, instead, we shifted our thinking? What if we were always just practicing, like fingers on an ivory keyboard. And if we hit the wrong note, we allow ourselves to go back and start over, realize the song does not have to be sung that way, does not have to be played on; it does not all have to go to hell in a hand basket like we sometimes think.
Every moment is a chance to begin again anew, to practice, to live with intention and authenticity and self-awareness.
Every morning, I can choose my practice: bathing others and myself in big ole’ swaths of love, tenderness when someone presents in a way that is hard for me, patience when the list doesn’t turnover as quickly as I hope, grace when things are made hard, the generosity of celebration or whatever else might need practicing.
Today, I am practicing sharing more love. What are you practicing?