These days, it’s easy to find evidence that mindfulness meditation is good for what ails us. There are studies and meta- studies lining up to tell us that folks with chronic illness who participate in mindfulness-based stress reduction programs (MBSR): deal better with their symptoms, have improved overall well-being and quality of life and enhanced health outcomes. ¹
It makes sense. In addition to the burden of physical symptoms, those of us with chronic illness deal with emotional roller coaster rides of anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. ²
Learning to be with ourselves in openhearted, open-minded nonjudgmental awareness benefits us in many ways. Here are a few:
- Many of us, when diagnosed with a medical condition, go into “fix it mode.” We want to take action! Beginning and maintaining a meditation practice gives us tasks to do and a sense of accomplishment.
- Each time we bring our focus gently back to the breath, we practice compassion for ourselves and give ourselves a new start. Both are needed responses to the physical suffering of illness.
- Becoming aware of our inner and outer environments as they are, and not as we wish they were, is a practice in acceptance. We practice accepting our emotions and our changing physical conditions.
- Staying in the present moment, we don’t get lost in worries about the future or spend time regretting or idolizing the past.
Access to MBSR programs is improving. Until recently, participation in MBSR required being close to a medical center and hundreds of dollars in fees. While participation in “live” programs is probably best because of the sense of camaraderie and support, free virtual programs such as Palouse Mindfulness online MBSR training make it possible for anyone with an Internet connection (and a dollop of self-discipline) to participate. Yoga has been a go-to practice of many well-veresed scholars to relax their mind and body. There are many forms of yoga that can help in various ways the most basic among them being Hatha yoga. Click on the following to know what is hatha yoga and how it can help you in your daily life.
¹ Mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with chronic diseases. Merkes M., Aust J Prim Health. 2010;16(3):200-10. doi: 10.1071/PY09063. Accessed March 28, 2016
² Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Physical Conditions: A Narrative Review Evaluating Levels of Evidence, Linda E. Carlson, International Scholarly Research Notices, accessed March 29, 2016