A Few Thoughts on Mindfulness and Disease

A biology degree, an extensive medicinal garden, and a listening ear make me the go-to person in our friendship group when it comes to health related questions. It’s not always a good thing (I know a lot more than I’d like about the vast majority of my friends), and there are times when it’s definitely a burden. This weekend was one of those times. Faced with my oldest friend dealing with the mortality of her father, I felt woefully inadequate to offer comfort or insight or even fully grasp what she needed from me. I did the only thing I could. I listened attentively, said what seemed right and muttered something about mindfulness as a method for pain management. If I’d been a little less shocked, I would have been able to tell her how mindfulness could help her enjoy her last months with her father as well. Predictably, I forgot all about that insight until I arrived home. But the link between mindfulness and disease stuck in my mind.

Practicing mindfulness can help to reduce the symptoms of disease and improve coping ability

I did spend the rest of the afternoon researching mindfulness as a method for coping with cancer. I’m sure those of you who actively practice mindfulness in your daily lives will be able to identify the benefits it offers the families of those suffering from cancer. The ability to enjoy the moment, to not let worries about the future impact on the present, is completely priceless at a time like this. As is the capacity to strengthen our relationships rather than tear them apart.

Mindfulness also offers hope to those suffering. Beyond the ability to be centered and present, this incredible technique has also been shown to help alleviate pain. The act of acknowledging pains in your body, of accepting them without judgment and not treating them with aversion, can actually lessen them. In this way, mindfulness can help patients to enjoy whatever time left to them in peace and dignity.

Image Source: Erik Soderstrom

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Latest update: January 3, 2017