| Do Good, Feel Good |
Dispensing Stress Vitamins
By Lisa Stiepock
Photo by Andrea Price
Think you might prefer a small spoonful of snark to a large spoonful of sugar with your guided meditation? Have you been wanting to try a meditation practice but just haven’t known where to start? Either way, Greg Sazima ’90 MD might just be the guru for you.
In January, the psychiatrist and Stanford University professor published “Practical Mindfulness: A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation for Beginners,” which he says is “meant to lower the bar to entry for readers interested in mindfulness but skeptical of a mystical approach.”
Sazima brings a large dose of humor to everything he does, including teaching meditation. But he takes the practice quite seriously, having seen so many of his patients who “weren’t getting any better” find a way through meditation. He says mindfulness and meditation have a “vitamin-like quality in the way that they preempt the stress.”
The other reason Sazima is so evangelical about meditation is personal. He calls the book, accompanying podcast, and blog a pay-it-forward mission for the practice that he believes helped him beat a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer into remission.
Meditation’s effect on his fight with cancer motivated him to write “Practical Mindfulness.”
He wants to share the ideas, methods, and specific practices that helped him manage and adapt to what he calls “that whole mess.” Which gives you a sense of the author’s tone and attitude.
The informal and what he calls “snark” are outweighed by the compassion. He explains it in the foreword. “This particular life course can cultivate in a shrink, or at least this one, a passion to examine the experience and share what I’ve learned. It feels like a kind of empathic duty, a compassionate act. Born from those intentions, I’ve pulled together leading-edge ideas in several areas of inquiry — psychology, evolutionary biology, and, surprise, a bit of quantum physics — and my own expertise as doctor, teacher, and sufferer, to illustrate a better way of approaching this precious but unpredictable human experience of life.”
We are all in need of a little happiness and a little inspiration lately, so we’ve devoted this issue of the magazine to stories of just a few of the many UConn faculty, staff, students, and alumni who spend their days doing good in the world, making it a better place for all of us.