Topic: Managing Expectations
As I have been reflecting on the impact of mindfulness on my pain management, I’ve come to realize that one of the major changes it has provoked in me has to do with how I approach my life and treatment. Working to live in the present, to accept myself as I am, and to loosen the hold of my vision of how my body should feel and what my life should be like. This is really all about managing expectations.
I’ve notice this impact in two different ways. The first has to do with acceptance. Through mindfulness, and mindful therapy in particular, I’ve been focusing a lot on accepting my body’s limitations. I’ve come to appreciate the complicated structures that we are, and wonder at how intricate and involved even simple movements are. I have been trying not to take that for granted. This has cultivated an incredible sense of gratitude over what I can still do, and I have found that I am less frustrated about what I am limited from doing. My expectations over my movement and my body’s capabilities have completely shifted. And in turn I find myself less stressed, which eases a great deal of tension I’m facing. It’s all connected!
The second kind of effect that I’ve noticed is with positivity. At the peak of my stress and pain, I became a bit despondent. “I’ll try this new thing, but nothing has worked so I’m sure this won’t either.” That became the way I entered a new treatment. I have been working to let go of expectations and approach new therapies and exercises with an open mind. I think that I’ve actually been having better results with new things simply because I’m more open to them, and I’ve found that I am not alone. I’ve learned that mindfulness and mindful therapies can stimulate patient expectations that treatment will help, which can correlate with improved responses to treatment. (This is discussed in Day, et al., the article I mention in the topic on Coping.)
Have you found that harboring positive expectations has made an impact in your body’s response to new therapies and pain management techniques? Have you found instead that harboring any expectations at all creates a roadblock to body listening? How have your expectations around various treatments affected your perception of the outcome?
#mindfulexpectations #acceptance #gratitude #positivity
Topic: Mindful therapies for coping
Welcome to our discussion of mindful therapies and how developing emotional coping mechanisms may also have a positive impact on our physical wellbeing!
A few months ago I read this scholarly article about how different mindfulness models can be integrated into the medical treatment of chronic pain. I found it fascinating, even though much of what it said wasn’t new to me. I know that the ideas it discusses aren’t unique to this article, but I am sharing it since it was meaningful for me.
Day MA, Jensen MP, Ehde DM, Thorn BE. Toward a Theoretical Model for Mindfulness-Based Pain Management. The Journal of Pain 15(7), 691–703 (2014).
It just all made so much sense, and seeing the mind-body connection described in this way was really satisfying for me. What I liked reading about the most was how mindful therapies have been shown to improve our pain experience. I realized the many different ways in which this has been true for me.
Two years ago, when I realized that I was having serious issues with stress and coping, I sought help from a behavioral therapist that employs many of the mindful techniques discussed in this article. I continue to see her today and find that maintaining my mental health has been just as helpful for managing my pain as treating my physical health. I learned that this is called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a kind of counterpart to MBSR. Its approach is to teach patients how to examine the links between our thoughts and our stress, our emotions and our physical sensations. Through reading this article and breaking down my experience, I have picked out several ways in which this therapy has helped me.
It has helped me separate myself from my pain and analyze it in a nonjudgmental way. I learned that this is called emotional decoupling. It also helps create some distance between my sense of self and this pain, which has been a useful way to reperceive my experiences. It has helped me accepted my experience and my pain, as I’ve mentioned in other discussions. Instead of focusing so closely on the pain itself, I’m working to shift focus to my emotional response to the pain. Therapy is helping me to stop catastrophizing my pain, though I still fall back to this in particularly tough periods (that downward spiral!) by helping me build tools that I believe I can call on to manage this pain. This is called self-efficacy (and expecation management, which we will talk about tomorrow!). The last thing I’ll mention is fear. Therapy has helped me acknowledge and work through the fears I have developed alongside my pain. For me specifically, this means the fear of an activity that might cause me pain. I was avoiding certain movements and exercises, as well as avoiding social activities that might be difficult. I still have a lot of work to do, but I think using all the tools I’m developing has helped me approach pain differently and reduced fear as an impediment to my actions.
The article discusses other ways for how mindful cognitive therapy can make an impact in reducing people’s experience of pain. Mindful therapies don’t have to include the traditional behavioral therapy model that I chose, but any method that promotes training our minds to examine the link between our thoughts and our physical being. I am interested in hearing more about how you may have practiced therapies, and specifically how you have developed coping mechanisms for yourself. If any of this resonates with you, please share your experience!
Have you found that mindfulness practices increase your emotional coping mechanisms for dealing with chronic illness or pain? Which practices have the greatest therapeutic effect for you?
#mindfulnessforcoping #mindfulnessbasedcognitivetherapy #retrainthebrain #distancethepain
Stress has come up in many topics throughout our body listening exploration. It’s a problem that all of us deal with in some manner. Stress exacerbates our symptoms. Stress exacerbates everything! I had a realization a few years ago that the stress from my pain and from the frustration of searching for a diagnosis and an effective treatment was actually making me feel even worse. It was this vicious downward spiral of pain and stress, completely holding me back from moving forward and living my life. When I learned about the parasympathetic nervous system it really resonated with me how important it is to address stress . This might be old hat for you, but for me it was a revelation. The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body at rest and restores it to a state of calm. It is complementary to the sympathetic nervous system which controls stimulating activities, like our fight-or-flight response. I realized that when my parasympathetic nervous system can’t do it’s thing, I am living in a constant state of fight-or-flight!! No wonder my body couldn’t begin to heal when it was constantly in emergency-mode.
All that is to say that when I realized how critical it was to reduce stress, I began looking for ways that I can incorporate stress reduction into my regimen. My focus shifted from solely treating the area of my pain to working on restoring my body so that it could begin to treat itself.
I began learning more about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Programs. I learned about the very first MBSR program that was started by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the U. Massachusetts Medical Center, and then I discovered that programs like this exist all over, like the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, or the MBSR Program through Duke Integrative Medicine. I was floored to learn about these programs, because here were doctors telling everyone that reducing stress really IS important and acknowledging that mindfulness is a legitimate and effective way to treat your body, not just some new age hokum. The idea is that meditation can be used to trigger the Relaxation Response. This term was coined by Dr. Herbert Benson to describe the mind’s ability to encourage the body to slow muscles and organs and increase blood flow to the brain, triggering your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in. With this new insight, I was on board and excited to ramp up my mindfulness practice.
Since I’ve started practicing mindfulness regularly I’ve noticed positive effects in all aspects of my life, but particularly on my pain and my approach to dealing with my pain. I think stress reduction was the key for me in moving forward and better managing my chronic pain. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize it!
#mindfulnessforthebody #stressreduction #MBSR
Does reduction of stress contribute to reducing your symptoms? Do you incorporate mindfulness based stress reduction into your treatment? How do you elicit your body’s relaxation response?
Topic: Mindfulness practices
This topic is to discuss other mindfulness practices that are not movement-based. This distinction between movement and non-movement is of my own construction, partly to try to organize the discussion and partly because of my own approach to mindfulness. As I mentioned in our previous topic, my first incorporation of mindfulness was through an introduction to yoga and tai chi about 15 years ago. When my movement became seriously limited with pain more recently, my desire to continue mindfulness work led me to explore more sedentary practices.
I have come to enjoy meditation, particularly guided meditations using a Youtube video or audio recording, and regularly use progressive body scans to calm and relax my body and mind. Progressive scans are my favorite practice, and I try to combine them with a breathing technique. In additional to relaxing me, these scans help me read my body and identify areas where I need to focus on releasing tension. Emotional Freedom Technique has come up before in our discussion of subtle energy, and it’s worth mentioning again here as it has the same qualities as other body awareness/mindfulness methods. EFT can be a helpful method for calming the mind and body together.
I think at the heart of any mindfulness practice is breath, and the effect of measured deep breathing on the mind and body. There are several breathing techniques that I’ve learned about. Just yesterday I was taught about a technique to alternate blocking one nostril and breathing through the other for deep breaths to calm down the mind and help fall asleep.
There are an abundance of ways to practice mindfulness, and it doesn’t take following a strict methodology. I would love to hear about how you practice mindfulness and which techniques you favor. How did you learn and choose a type of practice? Did you create something yourself that works best for you? How to do you incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life?
#mindfulpractices #progressivebodyscans #emotionalfreedomtechnique #breathingtechniques
Topic: Introduction to week 9
Welcome to our mindfulness discussion! This is a really meaningful topic for me, as I mark the realization that mindfulness is critical for my healing and long-term health as a turning point in both my treatment and my overall approach to life.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience, moment by moment.” (Kabat-Zinn, J., Full Catasrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York, Delacourte Press, 1990)
Mindfulness has been linked to improved treatment of chronic pain and stress reduction. This week we will discuss mindfulness tactics, techniques, and effects.
Topic: Mindful movement
I think that many of us are aware of movement-based practices that incorporate mindfulness. Yoga, in particular, provided my first introduction to the concept long before I ever felt the need for mindful awareness. Tai chi also comes to mind as a common mindful practice, as well as walking meditation (I think that one has become my favorite!). Even though my initial mindfulness practice was an unintentional by-product of my interest in yoga, when I came to the realization that mindfulness would be pivotal in treating my chronic hip pain, yoga was the first technique I turned to since it was the one I was most familiar with. From there I began to learn about more methods for mindfulness in movement. #mindfulmovement #mindfulyoga #walkingmeditation
How have you incorporated movement-based mindfulness practices into your regimen? Did you pick up this practice as a physical therapy that happens to have a mindfulness component, or as a mindfulness practice that happens to have a physical component?
Are there other activities in your routine that incorporate mindfulness unintentionally? For example, for me blow drying my hair has become a sort of meditative activity. It’s a block of time where I am doing a repetitive activity that takes little concentration, and I’ve developed the habit of using that time to do a little body awareness exercise and meditate. The white noise from the hair dryer makes it very pleasant!
A Deeper Knowing
There is so much you can do with expressive art! This week has just been a tidbit, a little taste to entice you to continue making intuitive and expressive art on your own to develop and enhance your ability to listen to your body.
Hang your finished artwork together. View the grouping; rearrange it to make it pleasing to your eyes. It has come from the deepest, most sensitive, and wisest part of you. Breathe, and allow yourself to be guided by the knowledge it has to offer.
We are living in a fast-paced, hustling, busy world and I realize you probably don’t have much time to spare. I designed most of these activities to be completed in about 15 minutes; some, like the paint blots, take less than 5 minutes. If you can set aside 15 minutes a week to make some intuitive, expressive art, you will witness a shift in how you feel about yourself, your life, and the world around you.
Find a space – the kitchen table, a corner in the family room, a quiet nook in your bedroom. Set up your supplies before you go to bed the night before so you don’t fumble away the time looking for things. Put on some music and set your timer for 15 minutes. Then draw, paint, sculpt – whatever comes automatically from within you. At the end of 15 minutes, stop. If you are “in the flow” and you have more time available then or later, you can continue or return to your art. Make it a priority to schedule 15 minutes for expressing yourself through art each week.
Having this outlet to express what is inside – even things you can’t articulate, or of which you might not be aware – goes a long way towards creating inner peace and a deeper knowing of yourself. You will be “freeing the artist within”, the part deep inside of you that longs to be heard. Give yourself this gift – you deserve it.
Gail Brightmon Moser
#adeeperknowing #innerpeace #freeingtheartistwithin #15minutesaweek
Viewing 10 results - 11 through 20 (of 39 total)
Viewing 10 results - 11 through 20 (of 39 total)