How a world-class cardiologist focuses with meditation


My name is Paddy Barrett. I’m a cardiologist. I work at Scripps Translational Science Institute. My chosen career path was interventional cardiology and what that means is you are doing the procedures putting wires etc. into people’s hearts to open up blockages. So it’s a rather intense environment. The hours are long the commitments are arduous and during those times things can get difficult and stressful. You are saving people’s lives, potentially on a day to day basis. And that’s as good as it gets. But I felt terrible. It wasn’t all the time but I didn’t have that joy and satisfaction and I felt totally out of control at times. I realized that this wasn’t what I had anticipated for my life. And I really thought that certainly for my patients they deserve better. And I deserve better. So I knew I needed to make a change but I didn’t really understand how I was going to do it. I have thought about engaging with meditation but like everybody else I sat down, I closed my eyes, and I tried to turn off my mind and that didn’t work. But I didn’t understand that that’s actually not the point. And that’s when I came across Headspace. What made the biggest difference for me was that it gave me a process to follow to learn how to meditate. It helped me mentally frame myself to be able to do my job in such a way that improved my quality of work, improved my quality of life. So when you’re activated for an emergency procedure at 4 a.m. and you are emotionally in chaos, for me I would flag down a cab and we would drive to the hospital on the west side highway. I would open the app, hit the SOS button, and in five minutes I re-centered myself. I was able to get that depth of understanding back as to why I was doing what I was doing. That made a huge difference. I think all of us aspire to these lofty, somewhat vague notions of success or happiness and what I realized was that they are not destinations, they are not end points. You never reach happiness, you never reach success, they are by-products of the way you live your life. I was seeing people coming face-to-face with their mortality, and giving me insight as to appreciate every single moment that you have. So as I began to learn how to meditate I learned that so much more value could be taken out of the world by just appreciating simple basic things. And that changed my life. It really did.

13 comments

  1. Another powerful example of how Headspace can help all of us "find peace" with what we do or aspire to do every day. On my meditation journey it always amazes me how so many people from this heart surgeon to an assistant at work struggle with "perceived" complexities of meditation only to realize thru Headspace how simple and approachable it can be. As in this story you have helped a man who saves lives…I dare say that Headspace itself helps saves lives. Thanks!

  2. There are no words to explain how much I appreciate you and what you do. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

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