Real People, Real Practice: Dr. Martin Ehrlich

“It’s an amazing process to do this within myself, and also do it together with patients.” -Dr. Martin Ehrlich, Internist, New York City

Photo by Dr. Roberta Lee

When internist Dr. Martin Ehrlich is walking down the hall and realizes that he’s rushing, he tries to stay with that realization and take a deep breath; between patients, when he’s washing his hands, he consciously focuses on letting go of his last patient so that he can be present for the next one; and when he’s touching patients—when he’s listening to their heartbeat or asking them to breathe—he breathes with them. All of the above are common occurrences in Ehrlich’s routine, but instead of seeing them as mundane or unimportant, he uses them as reminders to be mindful.

Ehrlich was already practicing medicine when he was introduced to meditation by his wife, a Sufi, and though he doesn’t identify as a Sufi himself, he says that Sufi meditation has helped him in his interaction with patients. The meditation that’s practiced in the Sufi tradition involves focusing on love—on taking everything into the heart. With the aid of this meditation, says Dr. Ehrlich, “I could connect on an emotional level with people more than I’d ever done before. It gave me a better sense of where people were at.” But, for Dr. Ehrlich, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)…