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Keeping Meditation in Sight

April 06, 1998

C. Richard Hulquist, 66

Ophthalmologist

Medicine is a tremendously stressful profession, and the pressures associated with performing eye surgery can be overwhelming. My religious beliefs are essential in helping me cope with these pressures, as is the meditation program I've developed.

I first became interested in meditation 25 years ago. After some exploration, however, I realized that the classic Eastern methods were too circumscribed for my needs. Deciding to create my own approach, I read and experimented and eventually came up with two suitable meditation forms, both of which are based on the mantra yoga school and the Zen Buddhist tradition.

The first is a formal, seated meditation. I begin with a sequential relaxation technique and then continue by repeating my mantra until I've achieved a sense of peace and well-being. The difficulty with this method is that I have to find a place where I won't be observed, since people seem to find the sight of someone in meditation disturbing. I call the second method my mobile meditation. I repeat my mantra with this method, but I don't need to be seated and I don't go through the relaxation process.With both I use the background noises of my surroundings to reinforce my meditation. These noises are so useful in keeping my mind from drifting away that I'm not sure I could meditate in a completely quiet place.

Meditation is now so much a part of my life that I meditate often throughout the day, and in quite a variety of places. I meditate in the hospital before surgery, in taxicabs and on trains, sometimes at a concert, and occasionally during church services. When the formal method is inappropriate, such as when I have to wait in long lines, I use my mobile meditation. It's especially helpful when I'm traveling and I get caught in Customs lines.

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