This 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: I have two questions: You advocate practicing mindfulness meditation to cultivate the skill of letting go of negative self-talk and other unhealthy thought patterns, but can mindfulness meditation improve health? Also, I would also like to know how you define an unhealthy thought?
ANSWER: Your two questions are very interrelated, so, I will answer them together. Mindfulness practice improves physiological functioning, which can eventuate into improved health.
Here’s how it works: Mindfulness practice reduces emotional distress, which then reduces physiological stress; any diminution of physiological stress improves physiological functioning, which has the potential over time to improve health.
As for your second question, unhealthy thought patterns are simply any thoughts you have that create emotional distress. Most people have experienced the onset of a headache, bellyache, or backache whenever certain thoughts appear. Mindfulness practice allows us to be less fused or entangled with those unpleasant thoughts.
Here’s an example: You start to experience physical discomfort; because you’ve been practicing mindfulness, you are able to immediately become aware that you were having the thought that you won’t be able to get everything done today that needs to get done. You can become a slave to that thought and become emotionally distressed, or alternatively, through mindfulness, you can appreciate that your thoughts are nothing but mental constructs, which you can learn to step back from, just letting them go.
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.