I attended my orientation session for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. So what the hell is it? It is a program to help calm your mind and body to help cope with illness, pain and stress. The focus is on things happening in the present moment. Apparently it is proven to help improve physical, psychological and behavioural outcomes.. It basically is the practice of paying attention to the present moment and helps lower stress hormones and decreases inflammation in the body and helps in treating anxiety. Sounds like a tall order to me! I will just keep my expectations low for now.
Ohhhhmmmmmm Ohhhhmmm…. Serenity now Serenity now!! My buddy Bob always use to tell me this at work!
Basically you have to take a seat and in a place that is calm and quiet to you. You also set a time limit and the Doctor suggested to start with 3 to 5 minutes and work up to more time. You are to take notice of your body and feel your breath and notice when your mind has wandered. Well, my mind wanders so much…I was like seriously?! My mind goes a mile a minute on a slow day. Mike always said I can’t relax..I think I use to tire him out going through the laundry list of items in my head. I could be having a good discussion about something, see a squirrel and suddenly be off on another topic. I could multi-task in conversation..handing like about 10 conversations at once.
Let me call the therapist Dr. Triple A only because all the initials of her name are “A’s”. She seems absolutely fantastic. Funny thing, after she walked us through a very short meditation which is apparently how we will start and end each session, she asked us to tell her how we felt while doing the meditation. Most said they felt relaxed, peaceful. I was just biting my tongue…until she said “Did anyone feel impatient?” I was like “me me me!!!!”. I was seriously thinking how long is this going to take and do I have to take an inventory of every single body part? For example, you have to relax your tongue and make sure it falls from the roof of my mouth, feel your feet on the floor, breathe, hear the noises of the room…… I was thinking I must be the only one that finds this a little annoying! She said it was completely normal to feel the way I did…phew!! Ok I hope I don’t fail this class!! In all seriousness, this will take effort to practice daily and form a habit… I did feel a bit better afterwards. Dr. Triple A mentioned she was a military doctor in the past and I have to say she set a great atmosphere. She was firm yet flexible and very accommodating and relaxing. She stressed that we should make sure to attend all sessions and only miss at maximum 1 session, if only, absolutely necessary. These sessions count as medical appointments. In addition, she explained it wouldn’t be fair to skip sessions particularly if someone else is on a waiting list because they could have attended in your place. Made sense to me.
To help us practice she identified several software applications that you can get from the Playstore for your mobile device. For example she mentioned a few like “Calm, Headspace, Wildflowers and Insight Timer. I downloaded a few to try before next week’s session. Feel free to try them out. She pointed out that we need to make sure that the meditation is “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” because apparently there are many different types of meditations. Who knew? The orientation was suppose to be about 1 hour but it was close to 2 hours. Classes start officially next week and are 2.5 hrs but she says they can run over. Dr. Triple A also warned us that one session towards the end of the 10 week course will be 4 hours in length.
I told her I was concerned that I had to prepare for a colonscopy the first week in October which happens to coincide with the course. Fully expecting her to say, don’t worry about it and skip. She thanked me for telling her and said for me to sit by the door so I could hit the loo. In my mind, I am measuring the distance to the bathroom…7-10 feet sounds doable, I hope. Sounds like this will be a stressful or should I say a potentially explosive situation. I can’t imagine being relaxed through any kind of meditation… Mind you, I will be mindfully paying attention to any gurgling noises that may be emanating from my body! It will be an adventure…
On another note, I was reading an article I found in a local magazine and it was titled “Humour for Seniors” but I think it’s applicable to anyone as they grow older. I thought it was interesting particularly because my blog is called “Live Life with Laughter”. I took the liberty of copying it here for you below:
Is Laughter Like Strawberry Jam?
Humour is one of the most important human activities, one that is enjoyed daily by people in every culture and at every age. Laughing is universal; no matter how old you are , what language you speak or what your physical and mental abilities are, you can laugh. However, very little is known about how aging affects “humour” experiences. Research suggest that elderly people enjoy humour more than younger people, but that they have increasing difficulties in understanding jokes.
You’re over the hill when you back goes out more than you do.
Laughing triggers a number of positive physiological responses:
- Relaxation of the entire body, relieving muscle tension and stress
- Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, drop and minimize pain and inflammation throughout the body
- The release of endorphins, natural feel-good substances that make you feel happy and content and have been proved to reduce the perception of physical pain
- Reduction in blood pressure combined with a moderate increase in the heart rate and improved blood circulation and oxygen intake
- The stimulation of immune system thanks to the release of T-cells and salivary immunoglobulin A which is triggered by laughter
You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.
Maggie Kuhn the Gray Panthers, said there are three good things about aging:
- Everyone who has told you, “You’d better not do that, ” “That’s not going to work” and, “Are you going to wear that?” is dead.
- Since no one takes old people seriously, you can be the person you were always meant to be. Women can be more assertive, men can be more nurturing, and both can strive to be public nuisances.
- Because there have been real losses along the way, this is the opportunity to make new friends, explore new interests and try on new roles.
So, yes, laughter is like strawberry jam; you can’t spread even a small bit without getting some on yourself!!
Submitted by Brian Porter
I think the above resonated with me because if MBSR doesn’t work for me…I can laugh about it and will get the same results!! So laugh or meditate…both have the same goal and/or results!!
Keep calm and Laugh on!!