Simple Meditation Practices Can Maintain Your Mind and Soothe Your Soul
People have practiced meditation for centuries, possibly thousands of years (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-and-mindfulness-what-you-need-to-know). Although meditation (https://voice.ons.org/stories/how-i-practice-mindfulness-as-an-oncology-nurse) can take many forms (see below), all are generally backed by the idea (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023) of connecting your mind to your body, which can calm you and enhance your personal well-being.
Some types of meditation (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02276) include:
- Focused attention meditation (https://www.verywellmind.com/practice-focused-meditation-3144785)
- Open monitoring meditation (https://www.brainzmagazine.com/post/how-open-monitoring-meditation-enhances-creativity)
- Loving kindness meditation (https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation)
- Compassion meditation (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00771)
- Mantra meditation (https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-to-know-mantras-meditation)
- Practice of mindfulness (https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0951-y)
What the Evidence Tells Us
Research shows that daily meditation (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023) can help decrease any negative moods, improve your attention, and enhance your working and recognition memory. It may help with anxiety disorders (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2798510) and other mental health aspects, such as stress and depression (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-and-mindfulness-what-you-need-to-know).
ONS Members Share Real-World Strategies for How They Practice Meditation and Well-Being
Meditation can help improve your mindset so you’re prepared to handle tasks and challenges in your nursing career as well as daily life. ONS members shared their tips and tricks for practicing meditation and what the practice means to them.
ONS member Mary Shields, MSN, RN, OCN®, executive director of clinical research at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, CA, has maintained a routine meditation practice for years. Shields said she tries to meditate daily and has been doing so since high school.
“I previously practiced with a mantra that I received from a teacher,” Shields said. “Currently, I mix it up and may do a walking meditation (https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation) in nature or sitting meditation (https://kwanumzen.org/how-to-practice-sitting-meditation) with music or sound prior to dinner after work. It helps me to refocus and ground after a very intense work schedule.”
ONS member Rose Wolfe, RN, BSN, OCN®, nurse navigator at Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions in Baltimore, MD, makes it a habit to meditate before her shift in clinical care, explaining that it keeps her grounded and calm. Wolfe has practiced meditation in various ways throughout her career, but her current focus is avian.
“I have used many forms of meditation, such as guided, quiet, mindful, breath, and more,” Wolfe explained. “In 2019, I started doing bird photography. This is now my form of consistent meditation, although I still 'sit on the cushion' as needed. Once my eye goes to the camera, I feel the same sense of calm and relaxation I feel when I sit on the cushion. Identifying what works for us individually is the key. Meditation helps us find a sense of peace in a challenging world, improving our sleep and overall wellness.”
ONS member Ashley O'Donnell, MSN, RN, OCN®, BBA, oncology nurse educator for Janssen Biotech in Tampa, FL, hails meditation and the power of the breath. As a clinic oncology nurse, O'Donnell tried to practice three therapeutic deep breaths twice a day: When she put on her work name tag and when she took it off. This process became her best habit, and she still uses meditation and breathing techniques in her current work schedule.
“I feel good about habitually doing this for myself,” O'Donnell said. “In my current role as a pharmaceutical nurse educator (https://voice.ons.org/stories/clinical-and-pharmaceutical-nurse-educators-collaborate-to-bring-training-to-nurses-and) covering multiple states and considerable travel, I have incorporated mindful meditation and conscientious breathing exercises whenever I get into my vehicle for the day. I enter my task with clarity, awareness, and connection with my environment.”
ONS member Dine' Campbell, CCRN, breast care nurse navigator at Mercy Hospital in Durango, CO, says that meditation helps her ease her mind and calm her worries. Campbell admitted her mind can be quite active, but guided meditation and mobile apps like Calm and Insight Timer to be very helpful.
“I meditate very regularly, every morning before I start my day,” Campbell said. “I tend to be a worrier, so I find that it has significantly improved my ability to stay present and get out of my own way. I also have a ‘monkey mind,’ so silent meditation has always been difficult for me.”
How do you practice meditation? Share your strategies to keep the conversation going and find more meditation ideas on the ONS Communities (https://communities.ons.org/discussion/do-you-like-to-meditate-ons-voice#bmd356e352-5733-482e-aadb-9e384182ef84).