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Holding Space for Doctors

September 16, 2022
daylesford living area

On a Whole Hearted Medicine retreat we aim to create a safe and nurturing space that acts as a container of calm for the doctors who attend. These retreats are a space for doctors to come and learn about the skills of mindfulness, meditation, self compassion, compassionate boundaries, self care, self awareness and so much more. They are also somewhere where doctors can have space held for them for a change.

As doctors we do so much to create safe spaces for our patients, colleagues and even family & friends. This constant expectation from both the world, but also from within ourselves, to be the ‘fixers’ of the world can be exhausting. So these retreats are very much about allowing the doctors who come to feel safe to put down that load for a while… to learn what it feels like to lean in to vulnerability in a safe and nurturing space.

I’ve been doing this for over a year now and each and every time I run a retreat, I learn something new. While we take time to reflect on the common humanity of us all as doctors when we’re together, we also see that beneath the ‘doctor’ label, there is a beautiful, unique and deeply treasured human. The thing about Medicine as a profession is that we (by necessity) invest countless hours and a significant amount of energy into the intellectual pursuit of becoming a doctor. What this doesn’t leave much time for is the time and energy required to engage in the sort of self inquiry and personal reflection that leads to deep self awareness. With the expectation that we should “have it all together”, simply because we are doctors, the concept of cautiously looking within and asking ourselves questions about our core values, our intentions and goals in life and the sort of people we actually want to be outside of our professional roles becomes difficult. This sort of vulnerability is best shared and explored amongst our colleagues- people who understand how difficult it can be to let go of the ‘Doctor’ armour and ask ourselves these tough questions.

In starting Whole Hearted Medicine and offering doctors these spaces of calm and containment, I have always wanted to help others to find their authentic way in medicine- to bring together the ‘doctor’ and the ‘person’ in a way that isn’t always easy. Because ultimately, living in alignment with our values and feeling capable and confident to engage in self reflection compassionately and kindly is what it means to be a Whole Hearted Doctor. Showing ourselves the same level of kindness that we show our patients, friends and family. We are more than just doctors and we deserve solutions in this ever rising crisis of burnout in healthcare that recognise our humanness not just a ‘doctorness’.

After burning myself out in medicine I knew that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and I knew that something had to change.

I am forever grateful to have found my ikigai in life. This work feeds my soul and brings me the greatest joy, and I love seeing the gentle ripples of change that come from it ❤️🩺