One of the many benefits of starting FO40 has been the opportunity to meet some really exceptional people. Dr. Julia Samton is high on this list. Introduced by a mutual friend who knew we both were interested in meditation, I have gotten to know Julia and her transformative work. Read on to learn more about Julia and how she incorporates meditation into her healing practice.
FO40: Julia, what made you go into the field of Medicine?
JS: I have always been fascinated that a mundane, gelatinous organ such as the brain was capable of producing such an enormous range of human emotions. I also wanted to pursue a field where there was a lot still to be discovered. Neuroscience is a huge area of growth and research, and this has become more important as our population ages. We are continually learning about psychiatric and neurologic health and the relationship between mood, cognition, and affect.
As important, I love my work. I consider it an honor to be included in my clients’ mental life; it extends to me the privilege each day of pondering the important questions that make us human.
FO40: Tell us about your Midtown Practice?
JS: I started the Midtown Practice for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy with my partner, Dr. Daniel Goodman. After decades of clinical work, we wanted to expand our practice to include an interdisciplinary group of clinicians that could address the various needs of our clientele. We both craved being part of a larger effort, hoping it would allow us to grow and hone our skills. We also wanted the opportunity to share our experience with other clinicians. As a group, we are dedicated to providing excellent treatment, and hope to offer a “go to” place in midtown for people to seek state of the art mental health care.
FO40: What can a new patient expect when coming to your office?
JS: To start, Dan or I will conduct a phone screening with the client in order to understand their needs, which helps us to determine which of our clinicians would be the best match for that person’s issues and goals. We take into account our client’s preferences, our therapists’ expertise and style, and our own medical recommendation. Working in a group practice makes us able to customize the treatment for each client. We believe the right therapeutic relationship can truly change your life course, so we take our time to set an optimal path in motion.
FO40: What got you interested in Meditation?
JS: About 5 years ago I felt I had reached a plateau in my work. I was looking for new tools to teach my clients resiliency and adaptability in the face of challenge. Around that time, “mindfulness training” was gaining tremendous popularity and advocacy amongst psychotherapy experts. I became fascinated with the neuroscience and health benefits of meditation, and started to practice it myself. Once I experienced the benefits firsthand, I pursued more formal training so I could share it with my clients. It has been such a tremendous benefit personally and professionally.
FO40: How do you incorporate meditation into your practice?
JS: I encourage everyone to meditate. I accept that not everyone is interested, but I try to expose my patients to the potential psychological and medical benefits of meditation. I am usually able to teach my clients to meditate on their own in a few sessions; I also suggest they download some of the amazing apps out there to get started. There are also several outfits that offer introductory classes (and more advanced sessions), including Inscape and MNDFL.
FO40: How does meditation help with anxiety, depression, and stress?
JS: Meditation is incredibly helpful for managing difficult emotions. Most of our stress and anxiety is produced when our minds wander to regrets of the past – or fears of the future. Other times, we needlessly compare ourselves to others or some perfect version of us that does not exist. I have found that we all have our favorite ways of attacking ourselves. Meditation cannot actually stop these automatic processes, but it can help you recognize when you are stuck in your thoughts, helping to change your focus to the present, where you can be most productive. There is a beautiful saying by Jon Kabat Zinn, the “founder” the mindful meditation, regarding the benefits of mindfulness training: “You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
FO40: How can we learn more about you and attend one of your lectures?
JS: Visit our website. I write a regular column for Inc.com called The Mindful Entrepreneur. I also speak to corporate and community audiences about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in the management of stress, particularly in the digital age. You can learn more about these events on my website as well.