Medical school is a demanding time for students, which is why health and overall well-being are so important no matter what the curriculum. One way students can find this balance is through meditation, and UCLA offers a range of resources to help them navigate their academic careers in a healthy way.
Although it has been around for millennia, only recently have the benefits of meditation been studied. "There are many ways to practice meditation, but in general the goal is to achieve a state in which the mind is clear, relaxed and inwardly focused," says Aurora Reyes, MAEd, director of career development and well-being. "Meditation is believed to help relieve stress, lessen depression, lower blood pressure and improve sleep [while boosting] memory, mood and even social intelligence."
But meditation is also a practice in mindfulness; this means being present in whatever is happening around the person without judgment. As Reyes explains, mindfulness is "a way to turn off the autopilot we get stuck in as a result of our busy lives."
Meditation and mindfulness are great practices for medical students because they can be done anywhere at anytime.
"Studies suggest that there is a high prevalence of depression and anxiety among medical students," Reyes admits. "Mindful meditation is effective in its ability to alter our relationship with what is happening at any given moment. We can enjoy life as it occurs, be fully engaged in activities and better cope with challenging or difficult events."
UCLA's meditation resources
This practice may be new or unfamiliar to many students, but as part of its commitment to keeping them healthy, UCLA has a host of resources to help people take advantage of the benefits of meditation. Sessions are offered free for students by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC).
"We hope our students can incorporate these resources into their lives and that these practices will contribute to their learning and overall well-being," Reyes says.
by Patricia Chaney