Vedanta has made me a better medical oncologist
I started studying Vedanta’s philosophy at the time when I needed it the most. I had already been a doctor for 10 years when I discovered this philosophy 12 years ago. At first it was just acquiring the knowledge, attending classes and reading. One of the practices is simple: every evening before you sleep, recap on your day gone by in 5 minutes. Slowly a pattern will emerge and you will be aware of what you need to change. Once that is visible in your consciousness, you can take action on what you would like to alter. This practice helps you strengthen the intellect
This practice and other teachings of non-judgement, compassion from Vedanta helped me contemplate and reflect. How to cope with the worst situations? How to remain objective and calm in a crisis? In 2010, I faced a major career crisis. I never thought I would survive in the workplace. But Vedanta came to my rescue and it taught me how to get up and fight again, it helped me face problem with dignity and courage and most of all it taught me how to have faith in yourself.
The change is also tangible every day. Patient care has become a true joy and I go to work on a Monday morning with great enthusiasm. I have learnt how to show emotion and be caring without getting emotional and letting emotions cloud my judgement. The moment one empathizes and puts oneself in another’s situation, you can understand why cancer patients and their families get angry, hysterical and lose their cool. They are frightened of death and dying. It’s as simple as that.
It also helps me deal with patients and their families asking me multiple questions – sometimes which are not related to the disease or the situation. Earlier, this would test my patience and counting to 100 became a regular exercise. Today, I approach it with love and am able to answer every single question to the best of my knowledge with composure and caring. All of this while ensuring I diagnose and counsel correctly, offering new and latest treatments to the patients and try to be a rock of emotional support.
Vedanta’s teaching of being able to let go is critical. When you lose a patient, you deal with a lot of guilt and heartache. The understanding that everyone’s journey and their time is limited by a higher power is something you have to not just understand but also be able to implement. Especially when you know you have done your best. The other heart-wrenching situation one faces as a medical oncologist is to see young children suffer. Often I would go through a breakdown, be distraught and be unable to treat them being a young mother myself. Today, I find myself stronger to deal with it appropriately.
Most medical professionals do not pay enough attention to their other life roles which are equally challenging and exciting. But Vedanta has taught me to be in the moment and enjoy every role completely – be it taking care of my home or cooking for my family. Even the highs and lows of being a parent are special. No one wants to be a world class doctor but a poor parent! Vedanta also teaches you to lean on your colleagues and delegate where possible. It may not always be done the way you would like it but allows you to learn from others. Perfection is a journey with everyone – not just one undertaken alone.
I must confess that the thought of taking up the study of Vedanta full time and stopping practice of being a cancer specialist has crossed my mind. But then I recall the teachings of this wonderful philosophy which tell you that one can reach the higher state of peace and happiness by just doing what one ought to do and by practising Karma Yoga. For me that means practising Oncology to the best of my ability and serving the community. Which is why, I do believe that Vedanta has indeed made me a better doctor and a better Oncologist and given me a reason to smile everyday