I have a fabulous wife and charming kids, the good fortune to have attended some very fine schools, and the privilege of practicing neurology. But at some point, everything felt hollow. I began to think that there must be something more from life.
My rabbi told me about the Institute, but I was a bit skeptical about dealing with "spiritual people." They didn't seem rooted in the real world. Then I received a call from Larry Schwartz, a business man and chair of the Institute's board. He told me that the practices he learned at the Institute changed his way of doing business and transformed his life; and he is a person who is definitely rooted in the real world.
So I joined one of the Institute's programs*, and slowly but surely I began to change in significant ways.
I had spent my life planning: planning how to get out of my childhood neighborhood, how to get an education, how to become a physician. I had lived a conditional life. I always said to myself, "If this happens, I'll do that. If that happens, I'll do this." But with meditation, mussar (examining qualities we want to develop), and the intellectual challenge of text study, over time my attention shifted from the future to the present.
I noticed natural beauty-the patterns of trees, vivid autumn colors, my neighbor's green grass. Whereas before I grumbled "hello" to co-workers, I started to pay attention to them, smile at them, and they shifted, acting genuinely happy to see me.
My patients seemed to be doing better-or, at least, I no longer thought of this one as a migraine and that one as Parkinson's disease. I looked at the people behind the diseases and found human beings.
This helped me save a patient's life
A 24-year-old man came into the ER and everyone thought he had meningitis. When I saw him, alarm bells went off. It didn't look like meningitis to me.
A voice deep inside said, "Something is wrong. You will find out what it is if you listen to him."
I took a deep breath and told myself to be present, in the moment. I said to the patient, "Tell me your story."
Based on what I heard and observed, I ordered new tests and we discovered a rare, congenital defect. Misdiagnosis would have led to this athletic young man becoming a paraplegic.
I'm not the one who made this diagnosis.
I was able to hear that voice because of the Institute and the tools I learned. These tools have changed my practice and my life.
(*"I'm the guy on the right!" - Jeff)
P.S. If you have made a recent donation, we thank you so very much for your gift.
P.P.S. We're amazed by the changes our participants are making in their daily lives; we'll be sending one more e-mail later this month to share one more story with you.