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) 


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