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Last year, in an effort to support medical providers and first responders on the brink of burnout, we launched Heal the Healers Now.

More recently, Hadley Barndollar of the Providence Journal spoke with Dr. Tony Nader – a medical doctor and head of the international Transcendental Meditation organization – about this initiative to provide meditation to those battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and the profound benefits of regular TM practice.

The following is an excerpt from that article, which was originally published on www.providencejournal.com.

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Dr. Brad Collins was among those who held up iPads as dying COVID-19 patients said their final goodbyes to loved ones.

On the few days he had off, he slept. He was struggling. And ironically, he was in charge of mindfulness resources for his coworkers also on the COVID frontlines.

“It was really traumatic, and I don’t think most of us realized that until we started to see the vaccine come out,” said Collins, who works at Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

The dark days of COVID-19 have pressed on, but Collins is doing much better now, thanks to a new coping mechanism. He learned Transcendental Meditation.

Five New England hospitals are hosting the national “Heal the Healers Now” program with the help of a $ 2 million grant to bring Transcendental Meditation to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who’ve experienced magnified stress, trauma and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Spending the 20 minutes twice a day in Transcendental Meditation really sort of helps to center yourself,” Collins said. “I liken it to a bucket that seems to be overflowing all the time, and Transcendental Meditation sort of helps you empty that bucket so it’s not always spilling over.”

Healthcare workers are experiencing COVID burnout. So why meditation?

A national survey published in May featuring more than 20,000 health care workers revealed that nearly half were experiencing burnout, and 38% were suffering from anxiety and depression. The survey found stress scores highest among nursing assistants, medical assistants and social workers, as well as Black and Latino / Latina employees.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently pledged $ 100 million to address the nationwide staffing shortages that are leaving the remaining health care workers exhausted.

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