In A Rush?
Her Individualized Approach
This is an actual exchange between Dr. Jamie Zimmerman and myself:
“Alok, in a dream world, what would you do for work?”
“Hmmm,” l smirked and went along with the charade, “I’d be involved in massive public health campaigns and use elements of humor, satire, and anything else that captured a crowd. Academic pediatrician by day, Aziz Ansari’s medical, alter-ego/stunt double by night.”
Alright – so go do exactly that.
She was unfazed by my outlandish answer.
She looked past the jest and was trying to teach me a deep level of honesty – the ability to separate my egocentric drive (what can my career do for my reputation) from my soul’s mission (what I want my career to do for me regardless of Facebook likes). She wanted me to grasp why my “perfect world” involved creative public health campaigns and why I included the joke about being Aziz Ansari’s doctor doppelganger.
The first step was helping me think more freely via daily meditation. I was one of thousands of souls she influenced in the past year on her mission to teach people how to “turn their passion into a paycheck.”
Start Meditating You Skeptics
Focus on your breaths and nothing more
This was Jamie’s famous, handy, tool for addressing hurdles in life. My first lesson was an impromptu session at ABC News’ medical unit in New York City. I interned with Jamie at ABC News in 2014 and over the following year she built a following of meditation devotees from reporters to producers to anchors. One anchor even commented that he felt more energized about going on air after getting much needed mental clarity from guru Jamie.
Jamie explained to us that the first step in getting familiar with your conscious was learning to “live in the gap” – a ‘mental’ control room that lies between stimulus and response. By focusing on breaths, by practicing meditation, she taught thousands about the virtues of learning how to receive an emotion and then process it, slowly, and control your response. By doing this, one could turn a potential crisis into an opportunity, or a ”crisitunity”, her coined term. This was the method to go from automatic, impulsive, responses to rational thoughts and centering your thoughts on living the life you want.
Onwards to Finding One’s Dharma
By introducing America to its sub-conscious, Jamie was pioneering a movement to redefine ‘dharma’ for the modern professional.
The actual Sanskrit term ‘dharma’ takes on various meanings from “the path towards righteousness” to “abiding by laws to make the universe possible” to “cosmic law and order” – it’s like ancient Hindu text meets Marvel comics. There really is no single-word translation in English but Jamie shared a functional interpretation.
The general idea is that we each serve a unique purpose, built by our passions and character, and this fits in the overall scheme of society. Deepak Chopra, in an interview with Jamie, sounded Confucius-like when he stated that following bliss is “expressing your unique skills and talents, aligning yourself with the forces and elements that structure the cosmos”.
Layman translation: If you had all the money in the world and could do whatever you wanted, would you be joyful doing it AND would it benefit others?
This naturally eliminates the possibility of winning the lottery and relocating to a Chilean beach to surf and eat ceviche’ as I’m not sure whom that would be helping. Dharma, as Jamie demonstrated every day, is finding a way to live out your passion while making a difference. Therein lies the secret to work not feeling like it’s work.
Her Spiritual Formula
I used to scoff at the phrase “feel as if you never work a day in your life” because, really, people work in service, in stringent corporations, and in transition jobs that aren’t always glamorous. Rent sucks but we have to pay it. Jamie understood that reality and this is where her cocktail of teaching meditation and chatting dharma made total sense.
The new age philosophy is to learn how to understand the cards you’re dealt, your talents, desires, and resources and rearrange them in whichever way best fits your path to dharma. It could range from a coffee barista focusing more on the café’s décor to a reporter moving to cover only political news or a physician foregoing residency to focus her career on meditation medicine and writing.
A Brilliant Soul Who Never Stopped Living
The medical, journalism, and meditation worlds all lost an incredible contributor when Jamie passed away this October. Her closest friends and family lit up the internet with stories about her while her numerous students and fans set out to live more fully in her honor.
The minute I got the phone call that Jamie had a fatal accident in Hawaii, my last encounter with her resonated in my distraught mind. We were back where we started, the ABC News Medical Unit and I asked her how everything was going with her recent meditation medicine lectures.
Well I’m doing my dream job and feel incredibly real. Life is amazing.
I want to say “we should all be so lucky” but as she eloquently preached, it’s only partially luck. The other part is making time for that stranger called, your inner-self and asking “what do YOU feel like doing for the world?”
And then doing it.