Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

larryB&W@300This question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges and their family caregivers, who want to learn to increase the odds of improving their health by learning to live with mastery & wellbeing.

I invite you to post your questions in the comments box below. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

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

Here is today’s question:

QUESTION: You’ve written a lot about the value of mind training like meditation to improve health and wellbeing; for those of us who recovered from serious illness, do we need to keep practicing?

ANSWER:   Many people have improved their quality of life and health, and even recovered from life-threatening conditions through various forms of mind training, like mindfulness practice. However, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the same intensity of practice after one goes into remission or recovers from a long-term illness. The most natural thing is to simply want to return to normal life. 

 Unfortunately, many people who experience early remission of their disease go back to living life as they did before the diagnosis. However, returning to the lifestyle that existed before the diagnosis creates the same psychophysiological milieu in which the cancer or other disease originally developed. Just as a recovered alcoholic must never return to the old lifestyle, the same is true for anyone who develops any serious life-threatening or chronic illness, even though their behavior may have had no actual causative effect.

 We are all biochemical factories and we are all senior chemists of our endogenous factories (the drugs prescribed by the brain and made in the body). As senior chemists, we have the power to determine which chemicals to make. The job of senior chemist of an endogenous chemical factory is considerably more demanding than that of the senior chemist of an exogenous (commercial) chemical factory.

 If we allow ourselves to get caught up in unhealthy beliefs that lead to unpleasant emotional states, then undesirable chemicals may be synthesized. Being senior chemist of an endogenous chemical factory is an enormous responsibility because it means being constantly vigilant.

 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. I will post a reply to your comment, but your question may not appear in this column. 

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