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It all started with a breath mint — well, symbolically. What would you do if someone offered you a breath mint? You’d take it, right? What would you do if someone offered, "You should meditate." A close friend, Vipal Soni, M.D., made such a suggestion to me several years ago and I wholeheartedly accepted. Four years later, MDitate was born. I’d love to share my personal story, my background and other events that inspired me along this wonderful journey.
Like many professionals, my career as a skin cancer (Mohs) surgeon has required decades of study and perseverance. The daily battle against skin cancer – both the rewards of victory over and the rare but certain pain of failure against the disease – was what I had prepared for after years of study. I am blessed with grateful patients, the respect of referring physicians, a compassionate and talented staff, and a loving and supportive family. I’ve contributed to the field of dermatology by practicing, inventing, teaching, writing, and lecturing. Even though I’d achieved so much of what I’d worked for, through it all, peace of mind and deeper fulfillment were hard to find.
When I was 40, a colleague and friend suggested I venture on a 10-day silent, reclusive meditation retreat in Northern California. There are some suggestions – perhaps like an offer for a breath mint – which one shouldn’t question. With trust and some faith, and with a supportive nod from my wife and kids, I took him up on the idea and made the first step towards self-awareness and inner calm.
At the retreat, through gentle guidance while sitting still, I was taught to focus on my body’s sensations and passively say goodbye to the rambling, often critical, inner voice. After three days of sitting (upwards of 10 hours daily) and letting the incessant chatter go, I felt the tranquility of ‘no mind.’ I stopped planning, hoping, regretting, remembering when, and playing out life’s ‘what ifs.’ I just sat still, doing nothing, thinking nothing, just being in the moment. And I felt … content. Who would imagine that doing nothing was something?
Since the retreat, daily meditation practice has been a challenge. Nevertheless, like my workout routine, I have committed to meditate daily. I have become more patient and compassionate with others and myself. I am more focused, I rest better, I readily accept challenges, and I find my surgical practice more rewarding. As well, my relationship with my wife and two children has become more loving and expressive.
Several years prior, I had acquired space next door to my current office with the intention of expanding my practice. After the retreat, I told my design team to scrap the plans and create a meditation space instead. I felt compelled to share the practice and benefits of meditation. Like medicine, it was a calling that I could not ignore.
And so, as all things come full circle, please accept our "breath mint." I personally invite you to discover MDitate and to grow with us.
Adam M. Rotunda, M.D.