Physician Fights Stress and Disease with Mindfulness and Meditation

It can be easy to become lost in the chaos of life, especially as a college student. In an interactive presentation, participants learned to recognize different kinds of stressors in their lives and understand how chronic stress can have consequences on their health.

A presentation focusing on mindfulness and meditation was led by Dr. Maryse Pedoussaut, a Board Certified French-American family physician, AAFP member and an Accredited Functional Medicine Practitioner.

She received her Medical Doctor degree from Paul Sabatier University of Medicine in Toulouse, France, and now works at FIU with the Medical School.

“It is important to recognize chronic stress and be aware of techniques that help such as meditation and mindfulness,” said Pedoussaut.

Dr. Pedoussaut’s beginnings with meditation and mindfulness were personal.

“I first got started with meditation because of my mom,” said Pedoussaut. “She suffered from depression her whole life and I would relax by listening to her voice, so I started practicing more in depth.”

According to Pedoussaut, being aware of breathing is a step in the right direction.

“When we calm our mind with breathing, we see things as they are.”

The class did a diaphragmatic breathing exercise.

“You breathe through your nose, and your belly goes out, chest goes up, and hold to eight, then blow out and let go of the stress through breathing,” said Pedoussaut. “This brings more oxygen to the lungs and, therefore, the body.”

Pedoussaut shared a tip for active meditation.

“When you meditate, you should do it with no judgment or expectations.”

Along with meditation, Pedoussaut began to practice mindfulness.

“Later in my life– after focusing on breathing and relaxation–I had the opportunity to go to a workshop with Dr. Evan Benson, and that was my first mindfulness workshop,” said Pedoussaut. “From there, I went on to become more involved in that world. I did another workshop in France, and finally, I decided to do the meditation certification in California.”

Throughout the presentation, Pedoussaut illustrated the relationship between the body’s stress responses and diseases, and how lifestyle choices can lead to increased ease, positivity and overall wellness.

“Stress plays a big part in developing health problems,” said Pedoussaut. “A good calming technique is to say thank you to your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and work your way down… become mindful of your body because being grateful is the first step towards happiness.”

She spoke about the importance of the present moment.

“We use too much energy thinking of the future. We need to be in the present and use our energy for this moment,” said Pedoussaut. “Live in the present because if you are in the past, you experience depression. If you’re in the future, you experience anxiety.”

The class learned that there are questions that, when answered, bring personal awakening.

“There are four soul questions that, if answered, help a person not feel lost,” said Pedoussaut. “These questions are: Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose/how can I help? What am I grateful for?”

Along with soul questions, there are six human soul needs.

“Six things that humans must have to feel fulfilled are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love/connections, and growing/contributing,” said Pedoussaut. “For example, you see people that have all the money in the world, but they do not grow or contribute and often end up with depression.”

Towards the end of the presentation, Pedoussaut left the class with some ways to find happiness and awakening.

“Socialize! Acts of altruism (such as kindness and generosity) allow us to identify with others on a deep level; lessening isolation and loneliness,” she said. “Also, make sure to laugh, forgive, go green, take a nature walk, journal, limit TV, computer, and phone, and sleep!”

It is useful to set the tone for the day in the morning.

“Your mind is potent,” said Pedoussaut. “Start the day how you want; set the tone by saying hello day! Tell it to be a beautiful day! When you get up in the morning, smile to yourself, and be thankful for everything you have, it will make your day amazing.”

At the end of the lecture, the audience were given grapes, raisins and strawberries. Pedoussaut told them to inspect their food, see where the light hits, feel the texture and smell the aroma.

The point was for people to connect with the food, appreciate it and understand their own ability to taste, feel, and smell in order to feel more in touch with themselves and their surroundings.

Irina Barneda/Staff Writer

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