A relatively new field of science known as Psycho-Neuro-Immunology has revealed a link between the brain and the immune system. It is now believed that the two areas of the body (cerebral cortex and immune system) are in communication with one another.
How we think about things, i.e., the meaning we attach to our thoughts, feelings and sensations, often creates anxiety, suffering and ill health. For example, people with chronic distressing thoughts have poorer functioning immune systems. But just as our thoughts and feelings can work against us, they can also become very important allies in the process of healing. If our mental processes have a direct influence on our immune system then we have some control over our physical well-being.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation has long been regarded as useful methods for creating internal harmony. Mindfulness brings awareness to thoughts, feelings, sensations and our interpretation of events. Meditation enables us to calm our minds. Harnessing the power of our minds to optimize our overall mental and physical well-being cultivates our internal resources and unblocks multiple barriers to emotional and physical healing.
Mindfulness and meditation are evidence-based practices now known to be highly effective tools in the treatment of stress reduction. The medical community acknowledges stress and anxiety as key players in the development and recurrence of disease, so proven strategies aimed at inoculating ourselves against their effects seem essential.
In the prevention of disease we may have little control over our genetics, environment and catastrophic life events, but we do have the ability to control our responses to the inevitable difficulties that befall each of us throughout life. The idea that "Suffering is Optional" implies that we each hold the power to shift our attitudes and awareness into productive and health-affirming states. This is precisely what the practice of mindfulness and meditation aims to promote.
In an ongoing effort to provide the highest quality of care to our patients and their families, we would like to encourage your participation in all of our evidence-based support programs. "Suffering is Optional" is a new workshop for patients that will focus on mindfulness-based practices, short meditations and suggested readings.
Lynelle Tyler, PsyD
Phone: (530) 582-6367
Source: Healing Emotions, Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health