I recently completed a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program. For those that are unfamiliar with this program, it is basically an 8-week secular (non-religious) course on how to meditate. The course was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at UMass and is probably offered by one of your local hospitals (if you are based in the US). In Philadelphia, the course is offered by Penn and Jefferson. My aim in taking the course was to acquire/develop tools to assist in dealing with the emotional/behavorial aspects of my Stage IV situation, e.g., scanxiety. I’m pleased to say that, while I certainly haven’t mastered any aspect of the “practice”, I do think I’ve begun to gain some tools–in particular, (1) using my breath to generate a sense of relaxation and well-being and (2) the art of “noting” or “noticing” negative thought patterns (e.g., the “what if’s?”) as they arise, which helps diffuse the related negative emotions.
By way of example, while I generally have normal blood pressure, my BP tends to skyrocket on my way into my oncologist’s office (at times, approaching ~160/100). At my last two appointments (which occurred during the MBSR program), my BP was normal (my heartrate was also lower). I felt anxious as I always do for these appointments, but I was able to use my breath and noting to stay more “present”, etc.
I’ve also found that, while I’m not (yet) practicing everyday, I do look forward to practicing and I generally feel relaxed and refreshed after doing so. In sum, if you’re looking for assistance in this area, I think that an MBSR program has a lot to offer. I’d be happy to answer any questions. Thanks.
I am a big fan of this therapy and you can get Jon Kabat Zinns books on Amazon. I like the CD’s with guided meditations best. We ALL need this because our brains are too busy! The other recent practice I’ve run into is hard wiring my brain for good things, though it naturally does it for the bad things. So if something good happens, really dwell on it and think about it before you go to bed etc. Coping is so difficult, but these things truly help. Thanks Matt and hope you are doing well.
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