What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness? A working definition. Mindfulness could simply be described as paying attention. That’s all it is really. It’s paying attention to what’s actually happening. It’s not paying attention to what we think is happening, or thinking about what is happening – it’s just paying attention to what IS happening. Recent studies have shown that most of us are not actually focusing on what we are doing about half the time. Half the time our mind is wandering and we are following it. But these same studies have also shown that we are much happier when we pay attention to what we are doing, no matter what we are doing, and much less happy when our minds are wandering. So Mindfulness is a training in paying attention. In the same way we go to the gym to train our muscles, with Mindfulness we train our mental muscles to be present and strengthen our capacity to be with whatever arises in our experience. When practising Mindfulness we choose not to judge our experience or pay too much attention to whether we like what we are experiencing or not. We are not as fixated as we normally are with what we want to happen, or we don’t want to happen, but instead are just choosing to allow things to be just the way they are. And this starts with accepting ourselves just the way we are and being kind to ourselves. Instead of constantly judging ourselves and constantly trying to work out if we are meeting the expectations of ourselves and others – in Mindfulness we start by accepting whoever...
Mindfulness and MS

Mindfulness and MS

We are aware of 3 separate studies that looked into the effect of Mindfulness on MS and we have provided links to the research. While all these studies are small (between 50 and 165 particpants), it’s is clear that, (as one would expect looking at the general research findings on Mindfulness), participants in these studies experienced an improvement (and usually a lasting improvement) in a range of symptoms common to MS – fatigue, balance, depression, and General Quality of life. If you know of any work going on in this field then we would love to hear about it! Links to research: Mindfulness based interventions in multiple sclerosis – a systematic review Mindfulness of movement as a coping strategy in multiple sclerosis MS quality of life, depression, and fatigue improve after mindfulness training...
MS & Diet

MS & Diet

The first book I read after being diagnosed with MS thirteen years ago was called “The Healing Code”. Written by Dermot O’Connor, it claims to “heal, transform and revitalise” the life of people with MS. That sounded pretty good to me but I must admit that I was very dubious and although I read it, I didn’t follow the steps advocated by its author. The first three years after my diagnosis were pretty gloomy. Learning to cope with what is often referred to as a “debilitating” or an “incurable” disease takes time. But the worst was to deal with the immune modifying treatment I was prescribed. Against my neurologist’s advice, I decided to stop the treatment and get my life back. At this stage, I remembered “The Healing Code” and started to investigate alternative ways of managing MS. Over the past 10 years, the books, articles and personal accounts I read recommended reducing stress, practicing yoga or chi kung. Five authors also stressed the importance of diet. The following table summarises the main points of these MS diets: Dairy and fats Despite some differences, these five MS diets all recommend to avoid dairy products and reduce saturated and processed fats while increasing unsaturated ones. I am not a dietician but my understanding is that saturated fats are harmful to people with MS for two reasons. First, if our diet is high in saturated fats, then the cells’ membranes become hard and inflexible, and so do tissues and organs. This leads to a variety of health problems. But fats also play another crucial role since they form the basic building...