The practice of Medicine is always a balance between head and heart, science and art, medical care and compassion. Sometimes our decision making, both in our medicine and in our lives, is so strongly influenced by the head that the feeling and knowing of the heart is almost an after-thought. Yet it is the heart that brings deeper understanding, the heart that brings connection, the heart that brings that inner voice we know as intuition, and the heart that brings healing.
Are we so fearful of bringing our heart into our decision making that we silence it, relegating it into the “unprofessional” basket? Medicine may become a dry and even unrewarding profession if we turn it into an intellectual exercise. The alternative, is the privilege of a rich and loving connection with our patients, always tempering the clinical skills we have learned and built on with each patient we see, sustaining and supporting us even when things get tough.
The truth is that those doctors who tell me they love Medicine almost always love their patients, are open to connecting with them and are open to learning from them. For them, the study of humanity makes the study of Medicine all the more extraordinary.
Could it be that in our own lives we also apply the head over heart rule, so that we become unaccustomed to allowing ourselves to fully listen to our own hearts?
Could it be that if we listened to our own hearts’ needs, we would have a deeper understanding of the needs of others?
I am not much good at New Year’s resolutions, usually achieving a great litany of failures by January 2nd. So, this is a “not a resolution”, rather a deeply felt need to listen with intention to what my inner heart is telling me and to develop a practice of heeding my heart’s words, with none of the self-judgement, measuring or self-criticism that failing resolutions can bring.
To listen fully to the inner-heart I have found there is a need for spaciousness and at times silence, as the great teachers of old have taught us. This does not necessarily mean we have to retreat into a cave or go into the wilderness; rather to find what that “silence” means to us personally, how best we can create a space in our day when we feel that beauty of deep inner connection.
How can I describe that feeling? For me it is a joy, a harmony, a trust, a surrender, a truth, a knowing, an appreciation of inner beauty. It brings us to a place of stillness within, allowing us to reach a wisdom which seems more truthful, more honest, more universal than the murmurings of the mind or the lessons in a book.
I ask that with the dawn of another year bringing reflection on the lives we live, that you too consider opening yourselves to this practice. My heart tells me it will be a beautiful journey that will support us to develop more compassion for ourselves and more compassion for all those we share our lives with. Our decision making will meet not only our own day to day needs but our deeper needs and through this process develop a greater understanding of the needs of others.
Listening to our hearts and allowing them to lead the way will bring us joy, make our hearts sing and make us better physicians, and will nourish us by supporting us to love and care for ourselves and for humanity that we serve.