A BORDERS psychiatrist has pledged to make free meditation podcasts for NHS staff and care workers.

Chammy Sirisena, of Selkirk, works for NHS Borders – but she also teaches Buddhist meditation with Kadampa Meditation Centre (KMC) in Edinburgh.

Now she has decided to introduce health staff to the practice.

She said: "More than ever, we’re needing something to help keep our minds peaceful."

Dr Sirisena said the podcast idea came about after NHS Borders colleagues suggested she might provide meditation classes for staff.

“My colleagues at the learning disability service [in Earlston] were looking at what we could do to support those working within that service and there was a suggestion made that a weekly meditation might be something that would be helpful, and they asked if I would be happy to do that.

“KMC Edinburgh were only too happy to support that.”

Dr Sirisena said she will record a series of 30-minute classes for the KMC website, with NHS staff and social care workers able to access the material.

The Selkirk resident believes regular meditation can benefit care workers’ emotional health.

She said: “There’s a lot of evidence to support the benefits to both mental and physical health through even a very brief daily meditation practice.

“But there’s also a lot of misunderstanding about what meditation is and how to go about doing it, so hopefully the weekly podcast will start with the basics of how to begin the meditation practice.

"Each week there will be two guided meditations as well as a little thought for the day coming from Buddhist psychology, designed to help people maintain a peaceful mind throughout the day.

“Through meditation, we learn to increase the capacity of our minds, to deal with the daily challenges that life brings, and at the moment most, if not all, of us are being challenged by the current circumstances.

“Now, more than ever, we’re needing something to help keep our minds peaceful.

"Daily, regular meditation practice allows our mind to become more flexible, stronger, more resistant to feelings of despondency and negativity.

"And if we’re more positive, then we’re better able to help others.

“As the real purpose of meditation is to increase our capacity to be able to benefit others – for carers and health professionals, that’s really what we’re here to do.”

Dr Sirisena has traditionally led face-to-face classes in the Borders and hosted retreats in Edinburgh, but she believes the podcast will benefit listeners in much the same way.

“I get my own education in meditation online, and it’s amazing just how effective online is.

"You feel the same effects, the same peaceful feelings, whether you’re online or face-to-face.

“Meditation’s about the mind – it’s not really so important what’s in front of you or whether it’s through a camera.

"It’s more about what’s happening in your own mind – it’s not a physical, tangible thing.”

Dr Sirisena said her weekly podcast classes begin on June 1 and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Users can access each podcast as often as they like during the week, until the next week’s podcast is posted.

“Even just within a couple of weeks, 10 or 15 minutes of meditation every day makes a huge difference for people,” said Dr Sirisena.

“Meditation allows us to have a much more patient, flexible mind, and enables us to deal with things in a much more constructive way.”

To register for the podcasts, you can go to this website.