At Bicêtre Hospital, he was nicknamed the “get up and walk” doctor. His colleagues had taken to sending him, to the pediatric rheumatology reference center where he worked, all hopeless cases of unexplained chronic pain or pain of psychosomatic origin. "That's where I developed my child-friendly meditation methods and saw that it worked," he explains calmly, without boasting.
For ten years, Professor Tu Anh Tran, pediatrician, specialist in inflammatory and rheumatological diseases of children and now head of the pediatrics department at the University Hospital Center of Nîmes, prescribes meditations to his young patients. "Practice Meditascanne morning, noon and evening every day or Meditatendre twice a week", he writes, for example, on his prescriptions.
“Meditation works for all cases. It always has two phases. The first is to calm down and focus. Conscious breathing quickly produces results, such as solving problems of concentration, dispersion, particularly in "hyperactive" children, whose mind is going at 100 an hour. “Dys” children (with dyslexia, dysphasia and other dyspraxia problems) have to make a lot more effort than their peers and often end the day exhausted. This first phase of meditation allows them to tire less and have better concentration,” he points out.
In 2016, Professor Tran, who teaches at the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier-Nîmes, set up with four colleagues a university degree (DU) in “Meditation and health”. It was then the second city in France after Strasbourg to introduce this type of diploma. Subsequently, the faculties of Paris, Nice, Toulouse and Lyon followed. In Nîmes, the DU is a victim of its success: “It takes two years of waiting for those who wish to follow our training,” he underlines.
The promotion of DU de Nîmes Montpellier brings together, this year, 45 students. They are mainly people working in the health professions (nurses' aides, nurses, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, sophrologists, physiotherapists, etc.), but also social workers and educators.
From Vietnam to Plum Village
Although born in Vietnam, Tu-Anh Tran is of Christian tradition. If his maternal grandfather was a practicing Buddhist, his father was from a Christian family. His mother then decided to convert to Christianity.
Doctor Tran left his country in the 1980s, at the age of 17, at the risk of his life. “I was a boat people. I almost died at sea, he slips, his voice slightly veiled. I told myself that if I survived this tragedy, I would now live each day intensely, as if it were the last of my life. I understood that you had to be ready to die at every moment to live fully every day. »
The meditation exercises he designed are inspired by spiritual traditions from the West and Asia: the spiritual exercises of Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola in particular, but also Zen Buddhism which he discovered while reading the books of Thich Nhat Hanh and later doing retreats in Plum Village. “It seemed to me that the initiation retreats to Zen practices did not allow me to reach the unconscious to heal old inner wounds”. A Sri Lankan friend then encouraged him to work on the sensations of the body by doing a Vipassana retreat. “I found this method extraordinary,” he slips. For fifteen years, he has meditated two hours a day, “one in the morning and one in the evening” and participates in a Vipassana retreat every year.
“I was a boat people. I almost died at sea. I told myself that if I survived this tragedy, I would now live each day intensely, as if it were the last of my life. »
During the Covid-19 crisis, Professor Tran offered meditation sessions to hospital teams for nine weeks to help them get through this period of disarray. “These were meditations that included fairly long periods of silence. Some of the participants told me that these sessions had liberated them. I am happy that they agreed to go further, to begin the second phase of meditation, by confronting the suffering and that these sessions are not only moments of relaxation and tranquility. »
Tu-Anh Tran wonders today about the short-term “utilitarian” aim of meditation in the West. "By limiting themselves to a quest for well-being, meditators miss out on the most important 'benefit' of this method, which is the possibility of freeing themselves from the suffering linked to the finitude of human existence", insists. -he.