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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live with self-care mastery. It is for all medical patients, caregivers, and advocates who want to learn how to collaborate with physicians to optimize health. It is also for those living with a debilitating medical condition who want to learn about the power of the mind to effect physiological changes, including ideas and practices that allow the mind to be the catalyst for healing.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are videos of webinars or interviews. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  In some posts you have written about mind training and elsewhere you write about living your values. Those two concepts seem unrelated; are they connected and if so, how?

ANSWER:   There are many forms of mind training—mindfulness practice, concentration practices, mental imagery, neurofeedback, martial arts, various forms of yoga, and many other forms of mind training. They all produce different results, yet all have proven efficacious.

Another way of training the mind is to identify your personal life values and then set a strong intention every day to live according to those values. For example, you may value interpersonal connections—most of us do. But most of us do things every day that are in conflict with that value. Either our interactions with others are unconscious and therefore not the type of behavior that engenders healthy relationships, or we don’t make time for healthy connections.

We may value stress management, yet we fail to make the time every day to practice one of the forms of training mentioned in the first paragraph of the answer.

In that way, mind training and living our values are two sides of the same coin. At the end of each activity, ask yourself if your behavior was congruent with your self-identified values. If not, don’t harshly judge yourself—simply resolve to behave differently next time.

All our actions are forms of mind training in the sense that each time we repeat a certain behavior, we reinforce the neural circuits that make it more likely we’ll behave the same in the future. For that reason, it is important to cultivate awareness of all our behavior.

Living by our self-identified values is a form of mind training.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health?

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. I will post a reply to your comment, but your specific question may not appear in this column. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

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