Awakening through Meditation: Finding Equanimity to Transcend Suffering in Life (and in Healthcare), with Dr. Angelo Dilullo

Healthcare worker burnout has reached crisis proportions, and we must find real solutions to address the intense psychological suffering of our workforce. The seemingly endless intensity of work, the mounting death totals and the indifferent attitudes many Americans display toward COVID safety precautions has caused depression, burnout and moral injury for a growing number of physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals.  For those of you out there feeling despair and pain on the frontlines of care delivery, an active meditation practice can bring you the peace and equanimity to transcend your suffering. In this week’s episode, we talk about realizing one’s unbound, undivided nature through meditation and how that can create a profound sense of liberation and enlightenment. If you are seeking a better understanding of how to experience a deeper sense of integrated realization that allows you to overcome an over-identification with ego that creates separation, isolation, and suffering, than this episode is for you!

Our guest this week, Dr. Angelo Dilullo, a practicing anesthesiologist and author of the book “Awake: It’s Your Turn.” I’ve invited him on to the podcast to provide us with a masterclass in breaking the illusion that we are separate from life, from ourselves, from everything that is. Given the suffering that is occurring in the healthcare workforce, there is something to be learned here about how we can live moment to moment and find resilience through equanimity. In this episode, Angelo discusses the process of Awakening (which he also wrote about in his new book and talked about on the ZDoggMD show) and how non-dual awareness can be applied to the context of emotional resiliency in the healthcare workforce to overcome burnout and moral injury.

Episode Bookmarks:

01:40 Eric discusses meeting Angelo during a recent 6-Day Semi-Silent Meditation Retreat and how his life has changed!

06:00 Angelo briefly discusses his Awakening journey and how he began to teach others

08:20 What Awakening is not as a starting point to understand what it is!

09:10 The end result of Awakening is the end of suffering

10:10 “Awakening is a huge reorganization in how you experience identity. It is a vast space of consciousness where one is completely at peace with one’s unbound Self.”

11:40 Awakening is the most important thing to someone once that state is fully realized. The process is self-validating.

12:30 “You didn’t realize the mental prison you were really in until you find the key, turn the key, and walk out the door.”

13:00 The paradoxical nature of Awakening and the experiential shift in spiritual insight

15:00 Thinking is a disease of the human mind that creates intense resistance to one’s true nature which, in turn, creates suffering.

17:00 Accessing the Peace and Equanimity that is already there through the elimination of incessant thinking!

19:00 You can’t fix stress and anxiety through thinking.  There is a difference way to derive identity and find peace.

21:30 Feeling and experiencing as all of consciousness (instead of identification through thoughts)

22:00 Everything is “I” – a universal sense of Being

24:00 Experiencing equanimity as consciousness itself in the present moment (not through identification of past and future)

28:40 Presence is peace and equanimity at an intimate level…a complete sense of aliveness.

31:00 Awakening it is not some exalted state or spiritual enlightenment – it is a natural state of fluidity, unbound intimacy, and freedom

33:00 Anyone can wake up from the dream of separation if they are determined to find the root cause of suffering.

36:00 The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare workforce (“psychological warfare” and nurses leaving the profession)

37:30 Depression and suicide in the medical profession due to burnout and moral injury (“a public health crisis”)

38:45 “You should only do this if it is deeply authentic to you.” (not as a cure-all for professional suffering)

41:00 Angelo discusses the sublimination of stress he observes in the practice of medicine

43:00 How stressful environments and challenging interpersonal situations adds the necessary textures to bring out deeply buried resistance patterns that can be hard to see in a life dedicated to quiet contemplation

44:30 “Shadow work” to address the emotional pain bodies of moral injury (referencing Eckhart Tolle)

48:00 Harnessing energetic experiences in the body to encounter deeply entrenched repressed emotions

54:00 How healthcare workers can reconcile the authenticity of “being as we are” by collapsing everything into the singularity of now (and balancing that with the sense of doership and need to make decisions to improve the system for the future)

57:15 Does Awakening cause major life changes with career or family?

60:00 Angelo discusses how health systems are now embracing meditation as a way to create more resilience in the healthcare workforce

62:00 The application of self-inquiry as an advanced practice of meditation

63:00 The recognition of suffering as a starting point

64:30 Recommended Resources: The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle), Adyashanti, and Angelo’s bookand YouTube channel