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A scene from the grounds of the North Carolina Zen Center.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Written by Stephen L. Garrett for UNC Health Care
As a nurse, Kimberly Young works with patients in UNC's Surgery Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Many of these patients arrive to UNC Hospitals after experiencing life-changing traumatic events like gunshot wounds or injuries from automobile accidents. She often works under extremely stressful conditions: where emotions are highly charged as medical staff works frantically to save a patient’s life.
Outside of the hospital, Kimberly lives and works at the North Carolina Zen Center as an ordained Zen Buddhist nun. As she explains, Zen practice is at least outwardly fairly simple. Zen practitioners sit quietly and focus on their breath in meditation – and by doing so they work to quiet their minds. But as it turns out, the human mind is a stubborn thing and it takes years to train it to be still. Because of her years of meditative practice, Kimberly approaches her work with traumatized patients and their families from a place of calm and compassion. She says that focusing on her breath during a stressful situation is sometimes all it takes for her to slow her heartbeat and focus her mind.
When we met Kimberly at the North Carolina Zen Center to film her interview, my co-producer Nathan and I were taken with her warmth and peaceful nature. She explained that everyone can learn to meditate and can benefit from it. Kimberly inspired both of us to slow down and think about how we could benefit from quieting our minds every once in awhile. We hope you enjoy this quiet episode of RN: Real Nurses and that it might inspire you to consider how meditative practice may benefit your own life.