I have heard a lot of great things about this elective called "Heart Matters in Pharmacy" and finally decided to squeeze it into my schedule. It's really interesting and unlike any other in the health care profession. In this class, we actually take the time out to tend to our right brain to achieve a balance in life. Each session would always start with a few minutes of feeling appreciation by first focusing our attention to the heart and breathing slowly and deeply. Then, we turn our thoughts to appreciating a person, thing or animal. This is called "the heart coherence technique" and the director of the course informed us that it has been proven to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels. I totally believe her, not only because she is a well-respected faculty member, but because I can feel the parasympathetic effects even with only a few minutes of practice each day. It reminds me of the period of my life when I actually took time out to meditate on a daily basis.
Practicing the heart coherence technique has a similar calming effect as meditation. However, I think I like the heart coherence technique better because it actually forces my brain to dig out the positive things in my life and be grateful for them. It feels much better to have positive thoughts and have an appreciation for life, people, animals and things.
Each class session, we also get to listen to our role models in the field of pharmacy (actual working pharmacists) share their stories and insights. Often, we hear about their tragedies and how they dealt and moved beyond them. They also share their insights about balancing work and personal life. Being at UCSF, we normally see and hear about the achievements and awards of these pharmacists/professors. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to hear the stories told from their hearts. I know it takes great personal strength to be seen in front of the class with so much emotional vulnerability.
This class is definitely one-of-a-kind in pharmacy school and I'm glad I am experiencing it. At the end of every 3-hour class, I feel rejuvenated and relaxed, as if I had just practiced yoga.