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Person showing hand gesture for Namaste

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I’m sure that you have probably heard the word Namaste at some time in your life.  When I learned the actual meaning of this word, it became a new favorite of mine.  I think it has great application to the practice of optometry and to life in general.  On this last day of the year, I would like to explore it further. 


If you look up the definition – there are many different versions.   Listed below are some of the simplified meanings.

  • I bow to the God within you.
  • The spirit within me salutes the spirit in you.
  • The divine in me recognizes and honors, the Divine in you.
  • I greet that place where you and I are one.
  • I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and peace.

You don’t have to be a yoga enthusiast or a Buddhist to realize what a nice and universal sentiment Namaste expresses.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful goal to exemplify this feeling when we interact with our patients and others?  You don’t have to say the word itself out loud.  But just thinking it could make a difference in the warmth of your greeting to another person.  When we recognize and value the other person’s uniqueness, we begin to make a connection based on respect and compassion.


As this year draws to a close, I find myself becoming introspective.  The holiday season is over and I find myself settling back into my routines.  I have never been one to do resolutions for the New Year.  Like most people, I generally don’t keep them.  Making resolutions seems to put me under extra stress trying to fulfill them.  Consequently, the guilt when I don’t stick to them just makes me feel worse.  At this point in my life, I don’t need stress or guilt.

I prefer to dwell in possibilities- to be a better person, to challenge myself to grow and to surround myself with positive thoughts and people.  I don’t think we are ever too old to stop challenging ourselves.  


So if I was to make a resolution it would be to work on communication. Improving our ability to communicate is a total win for us, our families, our staff and our patients.  Communication is something we must do every day and it can always be improved.  It doesn’t cost us anything.   However, it does require us to listen to ourselves with a critical ear.  

We need to try and hear ourselves as others hear us. What is the tone of our voice?  Are we being clear and concise?  Do we avoid medical jargon?  Or when faced with having to use medical terms, do we at least attempt to define it for our listener?  Are we speaking in a condescending fashion?  Do we respect the person we are speaking to?   And do we hear what they are saying?  Do we listen to their questions, concerns and fears?  Are we responsive to their needs and do we do our best to address them?

Improving our communication skills is definitely doable.   I think we all went into optometry to help people.  To serve our patients well, we need to be able to communicate with them.  Having a rapport and connection with our patients not only improves their compliance, but also creates loyalty.

When I started practice, I felt like I had to like all my patients and that all my patients had to like me in return.  It took me years to get past that misconception.  Of course, it is unrealistic to feel I will hit it off and make a connection with everyone I meet.  We all know some patients can be demanding and unreasonable.  Some can even be obnoxious, rude and unlikeable. But, I still do my best to give them all quality eye care that meets my highest standards. I strive to communicate well with them all. 


In my limited exposure to yoga, I learned many things that have helped me in practice. Stretching to relieve tension, breathing to calm and center myself and slowing down to appreciate the world around me are valuable lessons from yoga. These practices help me put everything in perspective-no matter what has happened during the day. 

 But the philosophy and underlying respect and valuation that is expressed in Namaste is my favorite lesson from yoga.


I may not say it to people, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be in my thoughts as I talk and deal with people all day long.  It puts me in the right frame of mind to handle almost anything.  It all comes down to respect.  It doesn’t matter your age, sex, race, religion, sexual preference, or any other label we place on each other.  Respect and valuing a person for their uniqueness can be extended to everyone without judgement.  We want other people to offer the same courtesy to us. We want others to see the special skills and abilities that make us truly unique.  Why not offer the same gift to others?

So, on the last day of this year, I say to you Namaste and hope that this New Year is filled with happiness, prosperity and personal fulfillment for you.

How are your communication skills?  Do you seek to improve them?  How do you approach the beginning of a new year?   Do you set goals for yourself or your practice?  Do you re-evaluate and modify them as the year goes on?  Write your ideas in the comment section below.  Let us know what you feel at the beginning of the New Year.

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