Greg Sazima ’79, M.D. reflected on his years at Gilmour and recalled the all-boys school’s rigor, discipline and compassion. He has many fond memories of his years at the Academy, such as participating in the theater performance of “Bye, Bye Birdie,” walking across campus in late September, playing basketball with his peers or supporting his classmates as a peer tutor. He says that he was involved and that he thrived throughout his time on campus.
In the Sazima family, most are dentists. Greg is the anomaly as the lone psychiatrist in the group. His family likes to joke that he works “slightly north” of them. In high school, Greg enjoyed biology, which convinced him to pursue something in the medical field. While an undergrad at Johns Hopkins, he began following Dr. Ben Carson, when he was on staff as a neurosurgeon. Dr. Carson’s influence coupled with a family trauma sparked his interest in a career in psychiatry.
He attended the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and then completed residencies in psychiatry at the University of Connecticut and Stanford University. He now has more than 35 years of medical experience and his professional journey has involved teaching, private practice, research and volunteering at local schools and Hospice.
In 2010, Greg contracted a rare bone disease, and this is where his passion for meditation was born. Mindfulness became a daily practice for him and proved instrumental in helping him deal with the challenges of his disease.
In 2015, he decided he wanted to share with others what he had discovered about mindfulness while battling his illness. He began to write a book, devoting time before work and on the weekends to the project. What began as five pages of “everything he knew he wanted to include in the book” evolved over the course of three and a half years to a 450-page book. He sent the 450 pager off to several publishing companies and, to this day, remembers one response in particular from a publisher who said, “We like to have books fly off the shelf and yours is a flightless bird.” This did not stop Greg. He edited his book, eliminating pages, and refining his message.
Today, “Practical Mindfulness: A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation for Beginners” is available on amazon.com and focuses on the landscape of the mind, how to understand and engage in mindfulness and the benefits of doing so. The guide has all the information you need to begin a practice in mindfulness. He wants people to understand that it's hard to know the benefits until you give it a shot. Greg recently joined Gilmour’s Director of Wellness Programming Katie Gallagher for a webinar on mindfulness for the Gilmour community.
While his medical treatments have forced him to cut back a bit, he still says, “Life is good.” That’s a powerful lesson in mindfulness.