American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Heartfulness Institute organized a five-week webinar, from March 20th to April 17th on Heartfulness Meditation Practices, guided by Revered Kamlesh D. Patel (DAAJI), who is the Heartfulness Global Guide, and initiated by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula President of AAPI and Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI. The Heartfulness Institute has held a series of wellness lectures that provide meaningful practices to AAPI physicians and continuing medical education credits.
AAPI members, including Dr. Chandra Koneru, Dr. Murthy Gokula, Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, and Dr. Kunal Desai, who have been engaging in heart-based meditation for decades presented and led the hundreds of AAPI members who had joined in and participated in the webinars.
“The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before,” said Dr. Gotimukula. “The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly those who are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, especially as millions have been impacted by the big pandemic. There has been a noticeable rise in burn out among healthcare professionals,” she pointed out.
AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, has been focusing on ways to help AAPI members, who have been in the forefront helping millions of patients around the nation, to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula said.
In this context, in partnership with the Heartfulness Institute, AAPI has embarked on a mission to educate its members and provide opportunities to promote self-care, improve physician wellness, and reduce burnout.
“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The Heartfulness Meditation has allowed AAPI to serve these hard working members who are our COVID 19 Heroes. It is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness as we rejuvenate and relax,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who, along with several AAPI members visited and experienced Heartfulness Meditation at the Kanha Shantivanam on the outskirts of Hyderabad, during the Global Healthcare Summit organized by AAPI in January this year.
The Heartfulness Institute is a not-for-profit organization established in 130 countries that provides meditation techniques that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance emotional intelligence, and explore the depth of human consciousness.
The Heartfulness Institute’s mission is “to offer all humanity a simple and effective set of practices for relaxation, meditation, regulating the mind, and building inner strength and attitudes to create a lasting sense of fulfillment and overall, wellbeing.”
“Our practices include heart-based meditation,” said Dr. Chandra Koneru, an Internal Medicine Professional, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer. “Our values align with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) mission to facilitate and enable Indian physicians to improve patient care and engage in research that brings distinctive contributions from India.”
The first webinar session led by Dr. Koneru was an introduction to Heartfulness practices: “A Program Overview: Why Meditate? Health, Happiness, and Harmony.” Dr. Koneru said, “Meditation unleashes the potential within us that we never before knew.” He shared with the audience the values of meditation, how meditation translates to evidence-based health outcomes, and how the harmony and happiness that meditation can evoke in physicians can have a ripple effect on their patients.
Dr. Koneru explained the relaxation techniques physicians can practice to create restorative and refreshing energy boosts. He outlined what it means to connect with the heart, fix your thoughts, and allow divine energy to fill the heart through a practical demonstration. “Heartfulness relaxation techniques remove stress and tension from the body, calm the nervous system, and settle our breathing habits,” he said.
Dr. Koneru also discussed meditation methods, centering oneself, and finding inner stillness and contentment. Heartfulness meditation is supported by the ancient yogic technique of Pranahuti, which allows us to dive deeper into the heart from the outset., he added.
Dr. Murthy Gokula, M.D., C.M.D., DipABLM, Family Medicine, Geriatrics & Lifestyle Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while leading the discussion on “Rejuvenation: Adding Lightness, Joy, and a Carefree Attitude to Life” spoke about the rejuvenation technique, which involves a well-established scientific methodology using guided imagery to remove the day’s stressful impressions and undesirable interactions.
Dr. Gokula said, “Cleaning purifies the mind of all its complexities and heaviness, allowing you to feel light in your approach to life. This 30-minute practice will detox your mind. After the rejuvenation technique, you will return to a simpler and more balanced state. Every cell of your body will emanate simplicity, lightness, and purity.”
Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, Internal Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, who spoke about “Inner Connect and Good Sleep and Cultivate Meditative Mind, Heartful Living” in two separate sessions, said, “Our quality of sleep and sleeping habits shape our physical and mental health. Our attention, intention, and attitude at bedtime play a significant role in transforming ourselves. With a proper attitude of humility, love, and openness to change, improving our sleeping habits can transform our lives.”
According to him, “Cultivating a meditative mindset is an outcome of meditative practices. A meditative mind is a dynamic state of inner stillness that progressively fills our life with contentment, calmness, compassion, courage, and clarity.”
Dr. Kunal Desai, an Infectious Disease Specialist, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while addressing the participants on “Tips for Deeper Meditation Experience” stated that the best way to experience meditation and find purpose is to focus on health-related benefits like stress improvement, sleep quality improvement, and anxiety reduction. He suggested adopting an approach of sitting silently at your desk for a few minutes to focus inwardly. “This small practice can pave the way for more mindfulness and intentional acting. He also advocated for small moments of meditation before bed, prayer, and diary writing to focus on meditation,” Dr. Desai said. “With interest and the right attitude, you can evaluate yourself to see that you will evolve to find the real purpose of your life,” he added.
Dr. Ranga Reddy, a Past AAPI President stated, “I have been with AAPI for over 25 years. This is the first time AAPI has collaborated with the Heartfulness program to bring awareness to physicians about the benefits of meditation in reducing stress and anxiety and improving patient care during these trying times. I hope AAPI will continue this collaboration to bring harmony and happiness to physicians, patients, and the public to create a healthy and peaceful society for the greater good.”
Dr. Rida Khan, who had attended the webinar, while sharing the impact it had on him, stated, “I have always been a meditation aficionado, so it was heartening to discover that it could be a continuing medical education activity. The practical meditation sessions taught the techniques in real-time and backed them with scientific, informative, and journal club-style didactics.”
Dr. Khan went on to state, “No doctor should battle the vicissitudes of the work of a physician alone. Introducing physicians to meditation provides a powerful tool to help alleviate stress, maintain stability, and enhance fulfillment in their lives. It helps to meditate in groups to protect your practice from lapsing, receive regular feedback, and exchange intellectually stimulating ideas. Meeting like-minded people in your field broadens your perspective of how a physician should and could be. As a newly minted physician myself, I find it invaluable to have those role models in my life.”
What was begun as a five week series has been planned to be extended for a longer as the AAPI members have shared for the need and expressing as to how the sessions have helped them personally and professionally.
“Heartfulness meditation practices are offered free of cost. By connecting with a local trainer at one of our 6,000 global Heart Spots, you can dive deeper into meditation with free assistance from a certified Heartfulness trainer,” Dr. Gokula added. For more details, please visit: https://heartspots.heartfulness.org. To connect with a virtual trainer, download the Heart-In-Tune app at https://www.heartintune.org.
For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives in the past 40 years, please visit: www.aapiusa.org