An interesting article came across my desk the other day about research done at Arizona University with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
The researchers were studying the effect of mindfulness meditation on pain and depression in RA folk.
A lot of depression co-exists with RA. And worry, and fear, and often a sense of isolation.
You know all about that.
What excited me about the research is that they found positive results from their experiment.
Mindfulness meditation made a significant difference in how people felt able to manage their pain, and it improved people's outlook.
The results indicated that everyone who practiced mindfulness — but particularly those who had a history of depression — had reduced physical pain. This was measured by a physician assessing joint swelling and tenderness.
In addition, those practicing mindfulness were more positive, and bounced back more quickly from negative events and feelings.
That all seems like very good news for anyone looking for a way to feel better.
So if you were interested in beginning a practice, what would you do?
There are several ways to begin, all of them easy.
You can get a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the granddaddy of the mindfulness and health movement. I would recommend Coming to Our Senses, available for preview and purchase on Amazon.com: click here.
There are great videos on YouTube of Dr. Kabat-Zinn teaching mindfulness sessions. It makes me calm just to hear him speak!
Here is one:
You can Google the phrase "mindfulness" and read what people say about the "how to."
Another way to learn is to go to a class. See if your local gym or hospital or yoga studio has a mediation class. Ask if you can sit in and try it.
The best way, once you have read about it or experimented with a class, is to set aside ten minutes a day and just practice. Be gentle with yourself. You can sit in a chair, and watch your breathing. It doesn't have to be longer than ten minutes. You are working with your mind, letting the breath calm you down, and help your mind be steady.
You will watch your thoughts pass before you — not getting hooked by any of them — knowing they are thoughts. Some teachers say to count slowly. Others attach the thoughts to balloons and watch them float away. There are thousands of pieces of advice on the mechanics.
Choose what feels most comfortable for you.
Then do it.
And do it the next day. And the next. Get someone to do it with you. Treat it like your own research experiment and see what might begin to happen for you in two or three weeks. Let me know what you discover!
(The article "Comparison of Cognitive Behavioral and Mindfulness Meditation Interventions on Adaptation to Rheumatoid Arthritis for Patients With and Without History of Recurrent Depression" can be found in the Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 2008, Vol. 76, No. 3, 408-421.)