Oh, So Quiet…

A University of Sydney study of more than 350 long-term meditators, defined as those who have meditated regularly for at least 2 years, points to improved health outcomes and greater well-being  The area of greatest difference between the meditators and the general population was in mental health where the meditators scored 10% higher. And the most significant factor appears to be how frequently the meditators achieved a state of mental silence.

I don’t know about all of you (although I think I have an idea) but I love silence…although achieving mental silence (stopping all those thoughts running round and round in my head) seems impossible.

“We found that the health and well-being profile of people who had meditated for at least 2 years was significantly higher in the majority of health and well-being categories when to compared to the Australian population,” said Dr Ramesh Manocha, Senior Lecturer in the discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney, who led the research.

He worked with Prof. Deborah Black, Sydney medical School and Dr Leigh Wilson, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University.

The national study is a world first health quality-of-life survey of long-term meditators. It used the same measurement instruments as the ones used by the federal government’s National Health and Well-being Survey.

While we did expect that there would be differences between the meditators and the general population, we didn’t expect the findings to be so pronounced.

“We focused on the definition of meditation as mental silence and surveyed practitioners of Sahaja Yoga meditation who practice a form of meditation aimed at achieving this state rather than relaxation or mindfulness methods that are usually the focus of other forms,” said Dr Manocha.

The meditators were asked how often they experienced ‘mental silence’ for more than a few minutes at any one time.

Fifty two per cent of respondents said they experienced ‘mental silence’ several times per day or more, while thirty-two per cent were experiencing it once or twice a day.

Most markedly there was a robust relationship between the frequency of experiencing mental silence and better mental health. This definition is based on it being the form of meditation practised for centuries.

Our analysis showed very little relation-ship between how often the person physically sat down to meditate and mental health scores. However, the relationship was clearly apparent in relation to how often they experienced the state of mental silence. In other words, it is quality over quantity”.

meditation

Meditative Movement

Tai Chi is an ancient practice proven to reduce pain and improve your mental and physical well-being. I go to a modified class for Arthritis, held by the Arthritis Foundation.

In 1997, Dr Paul Lam, a family physician and tai chi expert, worked with a team of tai chi and medical specialists to create the Tai Chi for Arthritis program. The special features of this unique program are that it is easy to learn, enjoyable, and provides many health benefits in a relatively short period of time.

So lesson one: Tai Chi for Arthritis is based on Sun style tai chi (pronounced “soon” as in– I will soon be learning tai chi!). This style was chosen because of its healing component, its unique Qigong (an exercise which improves relaxation and vital energy), and its ability to improve mobility and balance. The program contains a carefully constructed set of warming-up and cooling-down exercises, Qigong breathing exercises, a Basic Core six movements, an Advanced Extension six movements, and adaptations of the movements so you can use a chair for balance, or even sit on the chair for the entire class. Also incorporated into the program is a safe and effective teaching system.

Medical studies have shown that practicing this program reduces pain significantly, prevents falls for the elderly, and improves many aspects of health. For these reasons, Arthritis Foundations around the world have supported the program. And that’s why I’m at Arthritis Victoria today…they also provide the cheapest classes (and I received an added discount due to hardship!)

Supposedly, tai chi will help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase balance and flexibility
  • Feel relaxed
  • Improve your overall mind, body and spirit

Clinical Rheumatology reported that the Oregon Health & Science University’s Fibromyalgia Research Unit held a randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi to gauge any improvement in symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients.

Previous researchers have found that 10-form Tai chi yields symptomatic benefit in patients with FM. The purpose of this study was to further investigate earlier findings and add a focus on functional mobility.

Participants met in small groups twice weekly for 90 minutes over 12 weeks.

Of the 101 randomly assigned subjects, clinically and statistically significant improvements were seen in:

  • pain severity
  • pain interference
  • sleep, and
  • self-efficacy for pain control

No adverse events were noted.

Accordingly, the study reported that tai chi appears to be a safe and an acceptable exercise modality that may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of FM patients.

Tai Chi for Arthritis involves 12 movements or positions that are designed to be safe and beneficial for people with arthritis. Instructors of the program are trained to understand arthritis and ensure the movements are safe for participants. Tai Chi for Arthritis classes begins with warm-up exercises (lasting about 10 minutes) where you start at your head and move all the way down to your ankles. Each joint has two exercises, to reduce the chance of injury during the movements.

The leader then demonstrates and teaches one or two movements per lesson, encouraging us to learn the movements properly and slowly, working within your comfort limits. This week, we started with the Single Whip and Wave Hand in Cloud.

Single Whip

I start with my feet in a duck position (outward facing) and my hands by my side. Slowly lift your wrists, straight out and up, like two helium balloons are attached, up to shoulder height. the slowly lower them.  Then, while stepping forward with your right leg (heel first the toe), push your hands forward like you’re handing a ball to someone. Bring the ‘ball’ back (and your foot at the same time) to hold in front of you – then spread your arms by opening up your elbows. Allow your left hand to keep moving outwards (and slightly back) and watch it by twisting your head as far as you can go. Your right hand sort of just sits in mid-air waiting for something to do.

Ta Da! We’ve learnt our first form.

Wave Hand in the Cloud

From the position we left above, now move your left hand forward again, until it looks like you are trying to say stop. Your right hand moves beneath your left elbow – now you look like a traditional policeman trying to stop traffic. Take a step to the right, landing with your toe first followed by your heel – then wipe your right hand in front of your face, while your left hand moves to your right elbow. Remember Karate Kid? Wax on. Let your left leg move across to join your other leg (remember toe then heel) and wax off with your left hand. We do that 3 times, moving across the room. Then do it the opposite way. This is where we all get tangled up and obviously need to practice. My head doesn’t change direction that fast!

But hey! we’re doing tai chi! I think that was all the movements – at least, what I can remember from my first one hour session. It is all very slow, controlled and relaxing – just like in the movies – sort of like a moving meditation, as you’re concentrating so hard on breathing, moving hands and feet that you can’t think about anything stressful.

The lesson ends with cool-down exercises, lasting about three minutes.

I feel very calm and relaxed.

Operation Affirmation

The New Year is almost here – just over one month away. I’m looking forward to putting this year behind me BUT I would really like to start the year in the right frame of mind.

Most people repeat in their minds negative words and statements concerning situations and events in their lives, and consequently, create undesirable situations. Words can work both ways, to build or to destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results.

Your subconscious mind accepts as true what you keep saying. It attracts corresponding events and situations into your life. So why not choose only positive statements, in order to get positive results?

And that’s where Operation Affirmation comes in…

Affirmations refer primarily to the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment – fostering a belief that a positive mental attitude will achieve success in anything. More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be present tense, positive, personal and specific.

Over the next 31 days, I will be publishing a different affirmation each day. Say each one to yourself all day long. Write them down, email them to yourself, and post them where you will see them every day. See for yourself that affirmations are a way for us to harness the mind’s power by directing our intentions toward our best selves and our happiest lives.

Love your day, love yourself, love your life! See you tomorrow…

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Acoustic Brainwave Activation – Why is it Here?

Acoustic Brainwave ActivationYou may have noticed a new ad on the right hand side of the page for Acoustic Brainwave Activation. I haven’t tried it yet (I am totally broke) BUT it sounds really good (or am I being naïve?) so I have put it up as a trial – if any of you have had any experiences with the product, please write a comment below.

The company claims a multitude of fabulous ‘aids’ (I don’t think that’s the correct word but it will have to do for now) but I’m only going to look at the ones that may help us:

Chronic Fatigue

Using acoustic brainwave activation, Medipower are able to change the electrical activity in the brain and induce the correct delta frequencies and diminish the interfering alpha frequency incursions – It is delta wave sleep that is the “deepest” stage of sleep and the most restorative. It is delta sleep that a sleep-deprived person’s brain craves the first and foremost.

acoustic brainwave activationThe product directly addresses the issue of reaching the delta state early in your sleep cycle. It encourages this deep level of sleep in a gentle manner and allows the process of recovery and repair to begin. The program is 45 minutes long and should be listened to, in its entirety, when going to sleep.

As it does not require headphones to be effective it can be played on repeat or loop throughout the night if required.

It can also be used through the day to help with recovery and additional restful sleep.

Improving Memory

It has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that short and long-term memory can be improved by relaxing and meditating in the alpha range. Stimulating a certain part of that alpha range with acoustic activation will increase this benefit even further. The improvement in memory will be rapid, consistent and permanent.

Stress Relief and Deep Relaxation

You are guided through gentle relaxation techniques to relieve tension. In a state of calm reverie, you enter an inner sanctuary, a magical garden that you can return to again and again to restore your sense of self. You will learn how to generate powerful states of being that will contribute to an ever-increasing sense of well-being in your life. At the end you re-emerge into the world cleansed, revitalized and ready to tackle any challenges with a fresh attitude.

All tracks are ideal for stress reduction or creative problem solving and allows you to unwind at your own pace. The gentle pulsations of soothing Alpha, Theta and Delta waves move your mind into a regenerative state of well-being. Your consciousness is lifted above fragmented thoughts and worries, becoming unified in peaceful repose. You experience a euphoric release from anything and everything that bothers you.

HypnoGuide treatments are the simplest and most affordable way to directly influence your inner potential and release the power of your subconscious mind! HypnoGuide treatments are also much more advanced than ordinary hypnosis or meditation CD´s being offered today. Nowhere else can you find recordings this long at this low price!

60-day-guarantee-money-back-smallLike many on-line sellers, there are plenty of products and packages available to purchase and download. AND, importantly, all are backed by a 60 day money back guarantee!

Meditation Power – Acoustic Brainwave Activation provides 7 days/24 hours/365 days online customer services. They have been around since 2007 and have received a number of very positive reviews:

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review

So, after all that, I figured what have we got to lose? Let me know how you go…please.

try this
Int Fibro

Change Your Mind

thinkingMind power is a phrase we hear constantly and most of us acknowledge its importance but we really have no idea of the infinite capacity of our minds. We only use 10% (and my 10% is full!) and the rest is hidden, even from us. The remaining 90% is subconscious which means we only have the rest to ‘think’ with.

That 10% can be used for conscious mind power, the kind we can make use of on a daily basis to make our lives more dynamic and rewarding.

To harness mind power, we need conscious awareness and choice.

Meditation

This doesn’t have to be formal. Anything which stills the mind and helps us connect to our inner selves counts as meditation. The more we relate to our higher wisdom, the better we can de-clutter the rubbish from our minds and the desires of our hearts. I watched Elementary last night, where Holmes is forced to go to Rehab meetings…even he said that we have a finite amount of space in our brain, so we shouldn’t fill it with rubbish!

67. meditationYou can meditate to music, a beautiful scene, a colour, a guide. All you need is to relax and feel the silence within. Insights will come and, hopefully, a sense of calm and peace. You can use this time to visualise a person, situation or object you desire. Visualisation is very powerful and is a wonderful way to harness mind power. By seeing yourself in a future scenario but feeling it as achieved, you bring the desired closer. Although using mind power is about focus and concentration, so is meditation and the latter is an effective way to practise these skills. Both need discipline.

The more in tune you are with your higher self, the better you will manage your life in every area. Tuning into your intuition is vital for mental health and a happy life because your brain is full of faulty information and your emotions will lead you astray but your inner wisdom is always pure and right. If you sit quietly and ask, you will get answers. The mind is not your brain. The mind has many aspects and by trusting the instinctive messages you receive when meditating, you will feel the power you have at your disposal. The more you learn and practise, the more you will trust it and see proof of its positive impact on your life. The clearer your mind, the better will be your choices, feelings, decisions. The mind regulates your emotions as well. A lot of people don’t know that. That’s why they say they can’t help how they feel. Actually, we can decide how we want to feel and how we want to react to that feeling. Surely knowing why we do things is crucial – our conscious choice – rather than lurching from one self-defeating act to another.

Affirmations

Positive statements to affirm the life we want are a very powerful tool because they literally change our minds. Decide which area of your life is not working for you then write yourself an affirmation that you can use as a mantra. Say it faithfully without judgement or expectation and results will begin to show in your tangible reality. A lot of people give up after saying an affirmation for a week or two because nothing appears to be changing but that’s where faith comes in.

Before we can understand how to use affirmations to effect positive change in our lives, we need to grasp the role of conditioning and the mind’s power. Right from when we first come into the world and start to operate as part of a family, initially and then in the wider society, we absorb words, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, feelings and energies from all around us. Sad to say, many of these will be negative as we live in a fear-based society. Many of our well-worn adages are created from a fear of lack and loss, such as “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, or “Waste not, want not.” I’m not saying these proverbs aren’t true, but they engender negative ideas which form our sense of reality. This early conditioning stays with us all through our lives and just think about how many social ills can be traced back to these beliefs – racism, sexism, ageism, bigotry of all kinds, discrimination, limitation thinking, all kinds of fear, addictions, self-hatred, hatred, violence, crime and, of course, war. Now try to imagine a world in which positive affirmations form the basis for our belief systems and think how different things would be. If you’re already thinking this is “too good to be true”, there’s another negative belief! What about “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”? Life was meant to be to be easy – if we would only let it be.

Okay, we can’t cure the world’s problems, but we can do something about our own individual lives and, hopefully, influence others positively in the process. What I’m suggesting is that if we can learn negative thoughts in childhood, through the attitudes of our parents, teachers, friends and everyone around us, we can just as easily learn positive ideas, or, in the case of adults, we have to unlearn first. We can achieve both processes at once by using positive affirmations to wipe out the old negative ideas, replacing them with new fresh ones of our own choosing.

For an affirmation to be effective, you need the following conditions:

  • use the first person singular, “I”, when saying them
  • only use the present tense
  • they must be said with conviction and repeated often
  • they must be specific
  • write your own if possible and keep to one area at a time
  • phrase them simply

Here’s an example of how you might put these rules into effect. Let’s say you want more money in your life; it’s no good saying the words, “more money would be good” as that just constitutes a wish. For it to be an affirmation and for it to work, you need to use “I”, then put it definitely in the present and say how much you want but phrasing it as if you already have it. So it would be, “I have $50 more a week in my pay packet”, or “I have $2000 in my savings account.” It’s no use just saying, for instance, “I have more money” as you might then trip over a five cent coin which would fulfil your affirmation! You might have to repeat your affirmation like a mantra for months or even years, depending on how much pre-conditioning you have to break down first (I have been using ‘I am skinny and beautiful’ off and on for years – I’m still hoping my mind catches on to this!). Others might change your life overnight. This also tells you a lot about which ones are your most entrenched beliefs.

You need to suspend your cynicism, impatience and attachment to outcomes if you are to work successfully with affirmations. You might feel silly at first, saying, “I am a wealthy person” when you know quite definitely you are not! But by saying this statement over and over, you are changing your thoughts in this area of your life and the reality of your life will also begin to change.

old-lady-wheel-chair-ballerinaPick the issue you want to work on most urgently then write an affirmation of your own that suits the need. Keep saying it constantly – in the shower, in the car, as you’re cooking, all the time. Out loud is best but when not possible, run it in your mind. Affirmations don’t have to be in the form of words. You can affirm in mind pictures which is more like creative visualisation and that works very well for some people. You can also live your life as one extended affirmation, by actions and thoughts in general which enhance your blossoming beliefs.

Affirmations require faith and self-love but most of all, deservability. Without these components, you cannot change your life for the better. You can also say group affirmations such as “My family is well and happy.”

Here are some areas of life that can improve with the help of affirmations:

  • Health: “I have a body that works perfectly.”
  • Job: “My job is enjoyable and pays me well.”
  • Money: “I have all the money I need every day.”
  • Relationships: “All my relationships are positive and joyful.”
  • Future: “My future is bright and safe.”
  • Life: “My life is continual bliss.”

These are generic ones that you can use to make a start but if you have a specific issue such as a particular relationship that needs healing, write an affirmation for it such as, “My daughter and I get along beautifully together” or “My boss values my work.” The more you affirm that your life is good, the more it will be. It’s about taking responsibility for your own life and making choices about the way you want that life to be.

Manifesting

One of the clearest ways to see the effects of positive mind power is in the area of manifesting. We hear a lot these days about “the laws of attraction” and how they can be used to manifest our conscious and subconscious desires. It works best for me when I think of something I want then forget about it. It just turns up in its own time. When we try to control the “how” and the “when”, it doesn’t seem to work, perhaps because we’re not letting go and letting the Universe do its job. Positivity involves trust in Self and the goodness of life. Synchronicity cannot be controlled. It’s magic and to connect to it, just set your mind to getting what you want then let go.

Using visualisation and affirmations, you can, of course, manifest more deliberately but still it’s no use holding your breath waiting for the Universe to deliver. Attachment to outcomes can actually delay the very thing we want, not to mention that we don’t always want what’s good for us! Stay positive no matter how long you need to wait and it will come.

Positive Thinking

think

Using the power of your mind, you can turn negative into positive, whether it’s in the form of worrying, bad habits, addictions, toxic behaviour or unhealthy relationships. All these can be turned around by sheer will and determination.

There’s a lot of myth surrounding this philosophy. It’s not about burying your head in the sand and saying everything is wonderful. It’s about finding the gift within the unpleasant, the tragic, the disappointing and so on. There’s always a gift – always – sometimes very obvious, sometimes hidden. Seek and you shall find!

You can also manifest your wishes, be healthier and happier, feel empowered and make positive choices in your life. This only requires the confidence that comes with exercising your immense power both in your mind and in your soul. Something is only good or bad because you think it’s so. When confronted with hurt, betrayal, loss, illness or anything else you don’t like, decide it’s okay and it will be.

I think I can! I think I can!

I think I can! I think I can!

You have huge power that is accessible every day of your life, in good times and challenging times. There are many ways to harness this power and make it work for you. The benefits are huge. No matter what your nature is, you can achieve a positive mental attitude by deciding that’s what you want then practising every day to reach that goal.

As Donald Trump says, “If you have to think, think big.”

 

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Happiness is Having a Scratch for Every Itch

itchy-scratching-110621-02Do you find yourself scratching all the time?

Do you have dry, itchy skin?

Have you developed itchy skin rashes?

Maybe you have back itch?

Or itching ears?

Or maybe you sometimes even feel that horrible itching sensation all over – as if there are ants crawling all over your body…

Itching is just one of a number of symptoms that FM sufferers are lucky enough to suffer. And it’s apparently one of the most common skin problems .

Not only can itching be uncomfortable but it can also be one of those things that prevents you from getting the sleep you need at night. And we have enough trouble as it is!

Why Is Itching Such a Problem When you have Fibromyalgia?

Apparently (and unsurprisingly, when it comes to FM), the medical profession aren’t quite sure! But something they do know, is why this type of itching occurs…

360_backscratcher_0406You see, it’s got to do with how your body interprets your pain signals and it’s otherwise known as a sensory itch. The receptors in the outer layer of your skin are responsible for translating the amount of pressure it receives. These pressures can be translated into pain, for example. But when these receptors come across an unfamiliar pressure, they revert to the ‘default signal’: Itching!

What Can You Do to Ease the Itching Sufferer?

  1. Capsaicin. This topical pain reliever depletes your cells of their pain messengers, essentially forcing them to stop complaining. Tread softly with this one at first, though — it has a burn that’s too intense for some people. (More about capsaicin.)
  2. Ice. Cooling the area can relieve any inflammation that may be putting pressure on the nerve, but most importantly it can deaden the feeling. (Learn to ice properly.)
  3. Pain killers. For the itch itself, acetaminophen is the one that’s most likely to help with nerve pain. Again, if the nerve pain is a result of inflammation, anti-inflammatories may help as well. Some common over-the-counter drugs that contain acetaminophen:
    • img-itchyActifed®
    • Anacin®
    • Benadryl®
    • Cepacol®
    • Contac®
    • Coricindin®
    • Dayquil®
    • Dimetapp®
    • Dristan®
    • Elixir®
    • Excedrin®
    • Feverall®
    • Formula 44®
    • Goody’s® Powders
    • Liquiprin®
    • Midol®
    • Nyquil®
    • Panadol®
    • Robitussin®
    • Saint Joseph® Aspirin-Free
    • Singlet®
    • Sinutab®
    • Sudafed®
    • Theraflu®
    • Triaminic®
    • TYLENOL® Brand Products
    • Vanquish®
    • Vicks®
    • Zicam®
  1. Calming the nervous system. Certain supplements (theanine, rhodiola), medications (Xyrem, Valium, Xanax), acupuncture, and yoga and meditation may all help keep your nerves from being hypersensitive and causing these kinds of sensations.

Talk to your doctor. He/she may be able to help with a treatment or prescription drug.

 

Absolute Silence Leads to Sadness

1980s-makeup-madonna-i3A long time ago, when I was about 18, I had a huge crush on a bartender at my regular night club. At the time, of course, I thought that I was desperately in love. I was crushed when he approached me to tell me he liked my best friend and asked me if she might be interested in him. As teenagers do (or did back then), both my friend and I went to the toilets to talk. Feeling very noble and selfless (and rational), I told my friend that if he liked her and she liked him, it didn’t matter that I ‘loved’ him.

I’m really quite sad (and angry under that) at the moment: basically, the same situation happened to me 25 years later -tonight…except I was playing the friend role. BUT the person playing me was not so self-sacrificing.

cartoonSo, tonight, a date that I was longing for after 10 days of FB messaging, texting and Skyping, is no longer; and I am sitting here, instead, writing my next post…so, I am (I think, deservedly) sad (and angry under that).

In the face of my emotional state, I wonder if this whole thing will cause a flare because women with FM are more emotionally sensitive than women who don’t have the condition – right? WRONG!

Researchers who set out to understand the role emotions play in FM pain may have ended up dispelling this myth. Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands asked 121 women (About half the women had fibromyalgia; the other half did not) to think about a personal experience that made them angry or sad. The researchers then exposed the women to painful electric shocks.

All women in the study (about with FM and half without) felt more pain after becoming angry or sad. And the more emotion they felt, the more pain they reported.

The study, which is published in the October issue of Arthritis Care & Research, may help to dispel the notion that people who have FM are more emotionally sensitive than those without our mysterious illness – There was no difference seen between women who had FM and those who did not.

“We did not find that women with fibromyalgia were more sensitive to emotions than women without fibromyalgia,” says lead author Henriët van Middendorp, PhD, senior researcher in the Psycho-rheumatology Research Group at the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology of Utrecht University in The Netherlands. “However, because women with fibromyalgia already have heightened pain levels, the increase in pain due to negative emotions is troublesome, because the starting level of pain is already high.”

cowardly-sadness-aka-angerResearchers involved in the study say their findings suggest that techniques that reduce anger and sadness, including cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation, may play an important role in pain management.

“Many studies have shown that negative emotions and pain are associated, which likely reflects that pain causes negative feelings. However our study strongly suggests that negative emotions may also cause an increase of the pain,” van Middendorp says.

“Since drugs only work partially in fibromyalgia, everyone is looking for lifestyle and other things to do. So emotional regulation techniques might be helpful,” Robert S. Katz, MD, a rheumatologist and fibromyalgia expert at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says.

By the way, it’s my birthday now (it’s after midnight)…so I’m sad (and angry under that).

 

A Quiet Mind

A University of Sydney study of more than 350 long-term meditators, defined as those who have meditated regularly for at least 2 years, points to improved health outcomes and greater well-being  The area of greatest difference between the meditators and the general population was in mental health where the meditators scored 10% higher. And the most significant factor appears to be how frequently the meditators achieved a state of mental silence.

34. June-12-18,2005-meditationI don’t know about all of you (I think I have an idea) but I love silence…although achieving mental silence (stopping all those thoughts running round and round in my head) seems impossible.

“We found that the health and well-being profile of people who had meditated for at least 2 years was significantly higher in the majority of health and well-being categories when to compared to the Australian population,” said Dr Ramesh Manocha, Senior Lecturer in the discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney, who led the research.

He worked with Prof. Deborah Black, Sydney medical School and Dr Leigh Wilson, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University.

The national study is a world first health quality-of-life survey of long-term meditators. It used the same measurement instruments as the ones used by the federal government’s National Health and Well-being Survey.

While we did expect that there would be differences between the meditators and the general population, we didn’t expect the findings to be so pronounced.

“We focused on the definition of meditation as mental silence and surveyed practitioners of Sahaja Yoga meditation who practice a form of meditation aimed at achieving this state rather than relaxation or mindfulness methods that are usually the focus of other forms,” said Dr Manocha.

The meditators were asked how often they experienced ‘mental silence’ for more than a few minutes at any one time.

Fifty two per cent of respondents said they experienced ‘mental silence’ several times per day or more, while thirty-two per cent were experiencing it once or twice a day.

Most markedly there was a robust relationship between the frequency of experiencing mental silence and better mental health. This definition is based on it being the form of meditation practised for centuries.

Our analysis showed very little relation-ship between how often the person physically sat down to meditate and mental health scores. However, the relationship was clearly apparent in relation to how often they experienced the state of mental silence. In other words, it is quality over quantity”.

meditation

Reprinted from the September 2012 issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA – like it? Subscribe for the next issue HERE

 

Stress = Pain = Stress

Stress and pain are intimately related.

In our case, often, being stressed causes pain AND/OR pain causes stress. Psychological therapies – including hypnosis, meditation, and relaxation – may help break the cycle.

For pain therapists, these treatments, which focus on the relationship between the mind and body, are considered mainstream.

For other health professionals, they may be considered alternative or complementary therapies.

And for the layman, they may be considered hocus pocus!

Regardless of how they are labelled, there is evidence that for many people they work.

Hypnosis

fate2For many, hypnosis brings to mind a parlour game or nightclub act, where a man with a swinging watch gets volunteers to walk like a chicken or bark like a dog. But clinical or medical hypnosis is more than fun and games. It is an altered state of awareness used by licensed therapists to treat psychological or physical problems.

During hypnosis, the conscious part of the brain is temporarily tuned out as the person focuses on relaxation and lets go of distracting thoughts. The American Society of Clinical Hypnotists likens hypnosis to using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. When our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use them more powerfully. When hypnotized, a person may experience physiologic changes, such as a slowing of the pulse and respiration, and an increase in alpha brain waves. The person may also become more open to specific suggestions and goals (such as reducing pain!) In the post-suggestion phase, the therapist reinforces continued use of the new behaviour.

Benefits of Hypnosis

Research has shown medical hypnosis to be helpful for acute and chronic pain. In 1996, a panel of the National Institutes of Health found hypnosis to be effective in easing cancer pain. More recent studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for pain related to other conditions. An analysis of 18 studies by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York revealed moderate to large pain-relieving effects from hypnosis, supporting the effectiveness of hypnotic techniques for pain management.

If you want to try hypnosis, you can expect to see a practitioner by yourself for a course of 1-hour or half-hour treatments, although some practitioners may start with a longer initial consultation and follow-up with 10- to 15-minute appointments. Your therapist can give you a post-hypnotic suggestion that will enable you to induce self-hypnosis after the treatment course is completed

To find a hypnotherapist, speak to your doctor.

More reading on Hypnosis: Look into my Eyes

Find a licensed Hypnotherapist:

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis

American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association

Mind Motivations – For US, UK and Australia

Therapy Tribe – for US, UK, Canada and Australia

Meditation

Meditation involves using a number of awareness techniques to help quiet the mind and relax the body. The two most common techniques are:

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  • Transcendental meditation. The patient repeats a single word or phrase, called a mantra, and is taught to allow other thoughts and feelings to pass.
  • Mindfulness Meditation. The person focuses all of his or her attention on thoughts and sensations. This form of meditation is often taught in stress-reduction programs. Want to give this a try?

meditationBenefits of Meditation

Studies suggest that meditating can increase pain tolerance, activity levels, and self-esteem and decrease anxiety, stress, depression, and use of pain medications.

Mindfulness meditation has been used successfully in programs to reduce pain and improve mood in patients with chronic pain from a variety of conditions, including headache, low back pain, chest pain, and gastrointestinal pain.

Because there are varied forms of meditation and opinions about requirements for training, there is no formal certification or licensing process for instructors. Training requirements differ widely by institution. If you would like to find a meditation instructor, speak to your doctor or a friend, who may be able to recommend one.

To practice meditation, repeated meetings with the instructor may not be necessary. A recent study examining the perception of pain and various mental training techniques has found that relatively short and simple mindfulness meditation training can have a significant positive effect on pain management.

Relaxation Therapies

Relaxation therapies include a range of techniques with the goal of reducing stress. In addition to meditation, the major types of relaxation techniques are:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Also known as systematic muscle relaxation and Jacobson relaxation, this technique involves slowly tensing, briefly holding, and then releasing each muscle group in a systematic fashion, starting with the muscles in the toes and moving upward. During this exercise, the person should notice the differences between tension and relaxation.

MINI-RELAXATION PROCEDURE (for those on a tight schedule!)

For relaxation to be of the most benefit, you need to learn how to relax and calm yourself instantly upon your awareness of tension or irritability. While a 20-30 minute relaxation period is great, and very pleasant, you cannot escape and listen to your tape or do your long practice when you are tense in traffic or irritated with your family or co-workers.

A mini-relaxation is done as follows:

  1. Take a deep breath and raise your shoulders slightly (until you can feel increased muscle tension).
  2. Starting at the top of your head, focus on letting go of muscle tension (beginning with the muscles across your forehead). Allow sensations of relaxation, release, and heaviness to flow downward from your forehead, downward through your face, shoulders, arms, torso, and legs and imagine all the muscle tightness and tension draining right out your feet. Exhale as you allow the tension to drain away, and use your “key word” as you do so (this may be Relax, Peace, Calm, Serene, Ocean or any other word or phrase that denotes deep relaxation to you). Be certain that your deep breath was a deep diaphragmatic breath.
  3. This whole procedure should take no more than about 30 seconds (and can be done in as little as 10 seconds if that’s all the time you have). At the end of this period, go about your business regardless of how relaxed you feel.
  4. Repeat this process many times during the day, at least 20. Use the coloured dot procedure to remind yourself to do a mini-relaxation, preferably several times an hour. Place coloured dots in places you will see them often: your telephone, kitchen faucet, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, the door frame of doors you walk through frequently, your notebook or appointment book that you consult frequently, and even cut a small part of the coloured dot to place on your watchband. Whenever you see the coloured dot that is your reminder to do a mini-relaxation: deep breath, raise shoulders, let go of muscle tension as you breathe out and drop your shoulders, while repeating your ‘key word.’ You will notice that you become better and better at producing sensations of relaxation in a very short period of time, as you practice this over days and weeks. Do not extend your mini-relaxation more than one minute. If you are still tense, continue with what you are doing, and do another mini-relaxation the next time you see a dot, or the next time you are aware of feeling annoyed.

NB: A note of caution regarding relaxation if you are driving your car: Never practice long periods of deep relaxation while driving. Never listen to a deep relaxation tape while driving. Frequency is the key! The more you practice relaxation, or mini-relaxation, the better you will become at releasing stress and tension quickly and effectively.

Autogenic training: This technique uses visual imagery and body awareness to achieve relaxation. The person imagines being in a peaceful place and then focuses on different physical sensations, such as heaviness of the limbs or a calm heartbeat. People may practice on their own, creating their own images, or be guided by a therapist. Patients may also be encouraged to see themselves coping more effectively with stressors in their lives.

Breathing: Breathing techniques teach people to breathe effectively to relieve stress. While placing one hand on the chest and another on the belly, the person is instructed to take a slow, deep breath, taking in as much air as possible. During this, the belly should press against the hand. After holding their breath for a few seconds, patients are instructed to slowly exhale.

Benefits of Relaxing

According to a 1996 National Institutes of Health report, there is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of relaxation techniques for reducing chronic pain related to a variety of medical conditions. Other benefits may include reduced muscle tension and insomnia and increased activity level.

chronic comic 167The best way to learn relaxation techniques is with the help of a trained practitioner (although you can find many guided meditations, etc. on the Net). Usually these techniques are taught in a group class and then practiced regularly at home.

There is no widely accepted license for practicing relaxation therapy. However, it is often practiced by therapists and psychologists. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

More reading on Relaxation: Relax

Risks of Mind-Body Therapies

Although mind/body therapies don’t have the risks of medical or surgical therapies, there have been rare reports of adverse reactions from them.

  • If you have poorly controlled cardiovascular disease, experts recommend avoiding progressive muscle relaxation, because abdominal tensing can cause increased pressure in the chest cavity, slowing of the pulse, decreased return of blood to the heart, and increased venous pressure.
  • If you have a history of psychosis or epilepsy, you may wish to speak with your doctor before trying meditation. There have been reports of some people having further acute episodes following deep and prolonged meditation.
  • Hypnosis or deep relaxation can sometimes worsen psychological problems in people with post-traumatic stress disorders or a susceptibility to false memories. Its use should be avoided in patients with borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorders, or with patients who have histories of profound abuse. Because competent hypnotherapists are skilled in recognizing and referring patients with these conditions, only appropriately trained and experienced practitioners should undertake hypnosis.

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Realistic Expectations With Pain Management

I read this post by  (Creator and founder of FibroTV.com) in FibroTV Blog and thought it might get you thinking about how YOU manage your pain:

Realistic Expectations With Pain Management When You Have Chronic Pain

Pain management is essential when you have a chronic pain condition. Unmanaged pain can rip your life apart in all areas. When most people think of pain management the first thing that pops in their head is pain medication or medication to control the pain. There are many other options than just medication and you can also use an integrative approach to manage your pain by using medication and non traditional treatments  for pain management. Having realistic expectations with pain management is also very important. When you have chronic pain nothing is going to take away all the pain and if you keep reaching for that you are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration, discouragement, and disappointment. The only way to resolve pain completely is to address the underlying cause if at all possible.

Medication is not the only option, in fact it should be your last option!

We have been taught all our lives that when you hurt or get sick you go to the doctor and get a prescription. Medication has it’s place for pain and for sickness but why do we always reach for that first?  Medication does not fix anything they just cover up symptoms and is just another toxin in the body that can cause more pain and illness. There are some people who would have NO quality of life without medications or would not be able to stay alive without medication and these are not the people I am addressing. We really need to think if medication is the right thing for us or just a quick fix. We tend to want the most amount of results with the least amount of effort in this world and sometimes that is not the healthiest approach. You need to ask yourself some serious questions when debating how you want to manage your pain and make a personal choice that is best for YOU and your overall health. You need to be your own advocate and be very clear to your medical providers your wants and needs when it comes to pain management. Doctors are taught to write prescriptions and do not come from a place of healing the underlying cause so it is something you will have to do for yourself and make your wishes clear if you want to try alternative options.

Alternative options for treating chronic pain

  • Meditation Meditation cultivates an “awareness that develops when you’re paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester, Mass. The idea is if you can calm and focus your mind and your body you may be able to control your pain and the degree to which you feel it.”You cannot experience pain unless you focus on it,” says Gabriel Tan, PhD, a pain psychologist at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in Houston. “Let’s say you’re focusing on your pain and then the next moment a person comes into the room with a gun and threatens to kill you; you won’t feel pain because you’ll be focusing on the man with the gun. Meditation helps you shift your focus in somewhat the same way,” explains Tan.
  • TENS unit  “TENS” is the acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A “TENS unit” is a pocket-size, portable, battery-operated device that sends electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signalsThe electrical currents produced are mild, but can prevent pain messages from being transmitted to the brain and may raise the level of endorphins (natural pain killers produced by the brain). For some chronic pain patients, a TENS unit provides pain relief that can last for several hours. For others, a TENS unit may help reduce the amount of pain medications needed. Some patients hook the unit onto a belt turning it on and off as needed.
  • Chiropractors Chiropractors can treat chronic pain. They use a variety of non-surgical treatments, such as spinal manipulation, to address chronic pain symptoms, such as inflammation and muscle tension.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT says that individuals — not outside situations and events — create their own experiences, pain included. And by changing their negative thoughts and behaviors, people can change their awareness of pain and develop better coping skills, even if the actual level of pain stays the same.
  • Aquatic (water) therapy Aquatic (water) therapy is quickly becoming well-known for its amazing effects on decreasing chronic pain, speeding recovery, and improving function. Aquatic therapy, or pool therapy, consists of an exercise program that is performed in the water. It is a beneficial form of physical therapy that is useful for chronic pain. Aquatic therapy uses the physical properties of water to assist in patient healing and exercise performance.
  • Restorative Yoga Restorative yoga turns on the healing relaxation response by combining gentle yoga poses with conscious breathing. Although these poses may look as though you are doing nothing, this is far from the truth. Restorative yoga rests the body but engages the mind. The breathing elements of each pose make restorative yoga an active process of focusing the mind on healing thoughts, sensations, and emotions.
  • Dietary Changes and Proper Nutrition   You are what you eat, at least that’s the old adage. It’s also one I believe in — what you put into your body has a big effect on how you feel. There are Foods that fight fat, detox foods, and foods that help you get stronger. There are even foods that help you sleep better and look fresher. Adding to the list of foods that fuel with a purpose are foods that help ease pain. Whether it’s a headache, post-workout soreness, chronic pain or an injury, there are foods that  will help ease the pain away in a totally natural way.
  • Reiki Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
  • Massage  Massage for chronic pain works by interrupting the cycle of chronic pain. When you have pain in a certain area of the body, the muscles tighten around that area to “protect” it, mobility is limited, and often, circulation is reduced. Additionally, pain that began with an injury or illness can cause emotional and psychological stress that exacerbates the pain and even remains after the physical condition has healed. Massage for chronic pain restores mobility by loosening tight muscles and trigger points and by lengthening muscles. Massage also improves circulation by increasing blood flow, as well as promotes relaxation and helps relieve emotional stress and anxiety that can contribute to chronic pain.
  • Acupuncture A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients. The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.

Medications Medicines can often help control chronic pain. Many different drugs, both prescription and non-prescription, are used to treat chronic pain. All these medicines can cause side effects and should be taken exactly as they are prescribed. In some cases, it may take several weeks before medicines work to reduce pain. To avoid dangerous drug interactions, tell your doctor all the medicines you are taking (including herbal and other complementary medicines).

Your Choice! Your Body! Your Life!

When it comes to pain management you have to make choices that are best for you because it is YOU that has to live with the consequences and results of that choice. Everyone feels pain different and copes with pain different. Just because Suzi Q is doing something that is helping her it does not mean it will help you. We are all very unique beings and your chronic pain management is going to be as unique as you. The one thing I do recommend to EVERYONE with chronic pain and illness is to eat a well-balanced and nutritious  diet. Even if it does not resolve any of your pain you will be healthier and be able to cope better. You can never lose by eating healthy :-)