Mindfulness

The number of hits coming to my blog surprises me given my lack of attention to writing content here lately. I am thankful for those who faithfully trudge over to see if this blog is still alive.

While researching mindfulness in connection to chronic pain, I was made aware that in my pursuit for research and making earnest connections between mindfulness and chronic pelvic pain patients and how this is influenced by various degrees of physician communication (confused?), I have neglected those who struck the initial surge of creativity for me to embark on this crazy marathon. And for that, I apologize.

I wish to write more soon about being mindful to help one cope with chronic pain. I am still gathering data and sifting through a spectacular book on the subject, “The Mindful Brain” by Daniel Siegel. I was brought down this path through some research regarding using mindfulness as a leadership style. In one of the articles I read – Michael Chaskalson’s “Mindful Leadership: Training the Mind to Lead” – it talked about how the brain imaging of leaders could predict those who were effective and ineffective. This evidence was based on which side of the prefrontal cortex “lit up” with activity. Wondering how I could apply this theory to physican/patient communication in chronically ill women with endometriosis, I e-mailed Mr. Chaskalson. His response follows:

I’m pretty sure that learning to “approach” (Left
Prefrontal Cortex Activation) as opposed to “avoid” (Right Prefrontal Cortex
Activation) pain and other chronic conditions will be of great value to
patients and help them better to handle their pain.

Now, I’m sure some of you are jumping to the conclusion that this is some new-age-Yoga-meditation business, but you are wrong. Being mindful is an overall approach that can be applied to anything in life, including the way physicians interact with chronic pain patients and how patient interact with their pain. Yes, meditation may be involved, but there are various forms of “meditation”. I know that when I stopped running from my pain and began dealing with it head-on, I gained a new awareness for what it was trying to do to me. It was trying to control me. By being mindful of the pain – but at the time I didn’t know this is what I was doing, I was acknowledging a problem existed (not something in my head) and became more apt at conveying this to my physicians. To improve safety and quality, mindfulness must be a two-way street.

I’m still early on in Siegel’s book and pulling articles to form a brief presentation of this soon. I am hopeful my research is going in the right direction and can shed light on new ways physicians and patients can communicate about silent illnesses.

Those surveys and requests for surveys are very welcomed and appreciated. Now… on to more “book work”.

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7 responses to “Mindfulness

  1. Endochick,

    This is awesome. My acupuncturist (who I’ve been seeing for almost 10 years now!) was the first person to talk about mindfulness to me. (He raved about a specific book that I just sent you the name of, if you’re interested). Anyway, I have since had interactions with numerous people who have educated me about the power of mindfulness (which can involve meditation but doesn’t necessarily have to).

    I think it’s fascinating that the brain scans for effective leaders and those who are not such effective leaders showed the results they did. Not necessarily that surprising (to me) but fascinating, nonetheless!

    It’s awesome that Mr. Chaskalson wrote back to you. It sounds to me like to “approach” chronic pain/illness equates to being proactive and managing symptoms as best one can – whereas the “avoiding” method of operation is more along the lines of being reactive and/or in denial, and/or trying to live as if the (very real) chronic illness/pain doesn’t exist… when it clearly does.

    Interesting!

    Jeanne

    P.S. I am happy to hear you’re still getting lots of visitors. They obviously know quality work when they see it. You must have a loyal readership (for good reason). That’s great that people are checking back. 😉

    • Thanks, Jeanne. The left/right prefrontal cortex news isn’t shocking but confirms what I, and I assume other researchers, have assumed for years. Being able to visually map this, though, is wonderful news. I’m reading in the book I mentioned about neuroplasticity and building new cells, and building brain matter, just by increasing ones mindfulness. This could be a nice defense against the old “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mantra.

      • Erin,

        I am glad the post helped you. As a searcher of this, if it ever gets to be too much, please seek help through the number I provided or through your local health facilities. Pain can be an isolating burden, but talking about it, and reading that others share your pain, can help slightly ease the burden.

  2. How do I participate in your research?

  3. The book sounds very interesting… I’m a “new age” person so no worries about the meditation and yoga idea here ;o) but personally I find the term “new age” very ironic because often the practises used are ancient practises that worked just as well as our modern techniques… mindfulness sounds like one such practise which was lost when modern medicine focussed too hard on fighting the symptoms rather than acknowledging the cause!

    I think it is amazing the research you are doing and I cannot wait to hear more about your findings xx

  4. just found your blog and wanted to say *hello!* from a fellow endo girl.

    i wanted to say that i believe acceptance and mindfulness go well together also. i know that once i accepted that i would feel a certain way every cycle or before i need to use the bathroom that the pain was easier to get through. i think knowing what’s coming is always helpful to our little brains, and once i accepted my body and it’s limitations and realized why it hurts when it does, i felt much stronger and healthier. i have ‘known’ that i have endometriosis for 6 years now, but i really only started being comfortable with it in my skin. i rebelled and refused and hated it for so long that the negativity was really bringing my spirit down.
    i hope that some of that makes sense, and i do look forward to reading more on this subject when you are feeling better.
    lis

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