Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mindfulness and M.E- being in the body

 Not long after my hospital experience I attended an eight week mindfulness course. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Mindfulness is now a major part of my life and has helped me to accept my illness and all the chages that it brings. The body scan meditaton is an important core practice in mindfulness as it helps to develop awareness of the body. Studies have shown it to be particularly effective in helping pain management and general wellbeing, decreasing stress and helping to develop acceptance of the way things are, even if they are not how you would like them to be, which, let's face it, they are not.

Body scan meditation

For those of us with M.E, it can be very difficult to view your body in a positive light. After all, most of the time your body is out to get you! For many who practice mindfulness, the focus is on developing awareness of the body without judgement or preference.

I would argue that those of us with M.E have an acute awareness of their body, as the range and severity of symptoms is such that it becomes very difficult not to notice them. Add to that the need for pacing and listening to your body, this adds up to a LOT of focus on the body and the unpleasant sensations. This can lead to a negative self image, as we bcome disappointed and sometimes angry with our lack of ability, we can feel our body has let us down.

This body scan meditation is designed to cultivate a different relationship with the body, one of kindness, understanding and forgiveness. When we can learn to relate to the body and any pain or dis-ease within it, we can find a more peaceful existence where we do not turn away from the unpleasant or unwanted.  When we lean gently towards the pain and try to view it objectively, without attaching judgement and reacting to it, we can lessen our suffering.

The body scan is best practiced lying down comfortably, why not try it every day for a week and see how your experience changes and delvelops?

You can find body scan meditations on Youtube or in a variety of books and CDs. Some of my favourites are:

Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief by Jon Kabat-Zinn (CD)

Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch

Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Bodyscan: Managing pain, illness and stress with mindfulness meditation by Vidyamala Burch (CD) 


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hello? Is it M.E you're looking for?......

What a difference a day makes. At last I have been told I have M.E.

It doesn't change my health, but it does change my treatment. No longer will I be subjected to months of psychotherapy. No longer will I be denied physical aids to help me move around outside and in my own home. No longer will I be advised not to close the blackouts on a bright day, even though the light gives me a migraine. No longer will I be told 'not to give in' to my symptoms as this is 'making them worse'. No longer will the responsibility for my illness be placed at my door. All these months of fighting, thinking that somehow I must be making this happen, somehow wanting to be sick. 

I don't need time to accept this new diagnosis as I've known for some time I had M.E. Getting the doctors to agree was the hard part. On my journey I have learned essential survival and managing skills such as pacing. I have made some great friends who understand the illness and how to live happily while being chronically ill. I have developed ways of making the boredom easier by doing small crafts like knitting. I've tried hard to maintain a sleep cycle which resembles that of a healthy bod. But if only I had been correctly diagnosed from the start, I could have rested when I really needed it instead of always pushing myself to improve. Yes, delayed/ wrong diagnosis may have made this worse or make it last longer. But I can't be angry or bitter. They didn't set out to harm me or hold me back. There is so much that doctors don't know and can't treat right now.... if only there was more research. And anyway...I don't have the energy.  I have to focus on getting the help I need from the professionals who can provide it.

Today is a good day.