Mindfulness and Myeloma
Life with myeloma (as a patient or caregiver) can leave your mind racing. You are bombarded with worries about the many unknowns of the future, or may ruminate about the past. All of these thoughts can leave your mind clouded, anxious and missing out on what the present moment has to offer.
Kristina Cubrilo Santos, Dipl.L.Ac., LMT recently spoke at ASH 2020 on mindfulness - how to initiate a mindfulness practice and the resulting benefits.
What is Mindfulness?
"Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.”
How do I start?
- Return to the present moment: slow down and experience your environment with all of your senses- touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste.
- Focus on breath: follow the inhale/exhale focusing on the rise and fall of your rib cage
- Observe: thoughts as they come into your mind and let them go, don’t attach yourself to any one thought, let them come and go
- Be present: in activities and conversations rather than letting your mind wander to the past or future
So many of our daily activities are completed on autopilot without thought or awareness. Slowing down, focusing on what is in front of us and being present for the task or person at hand can result in more enjoyment in our activities and more connection in our relationships.
How will practicing mindfulness help me?
Practicing mindfulness allows us to have a deeper connection with our internal state of being. It helps us move out of auto mode and into the present. Our internal state truly effects our outward environment including our interaction with people, our relationships and our stress levels. Mindfulness increases serotonin and dopamine- the healthy substances in our brain. This in turn reduces stress and feelings of anxiety, increases empathy and improved quality of life. A practice of mindfulness also strengthens areas of the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion resulting in improved concentration and reduced mind wandering.
Dr. Santos recommends practicing mindfulness consistently each day for two weeks and observe the changes that occur personally and in your interactions with others. I am committing to a two week practice, and hope you will too! I would love to hear about your experience and results. Email them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
While a practice of mindfulness can’t completely remove the questions, worries or fears we experience with myeloma it can allow us to face them with a clear mind in the present moment. This clarity can strengthen your ability to make decisions and utilize support and resources.
The HealthTree Foundation also offers a variety of resources to everyone in the myeloma community including:
- Myeloma Crowd Round Tables: virtual and in person education events learning from top myeloma experts
- Myeloma Coach: personalized peer support program, offering shared experience, support and resources
- HealthTree Cure Hub: track your myeloma, find your myeloma twin, connect with others in community forum, participate in research to accelerate a cure
- HealthTree University: receive myeloma education taught by over 75 myeloma specialists
If myeloma has left your mind racing, and you would like personalized one on one support, consider working with a Myeloma Coach. Coaches are myeloma patients or caregivers willing to share what they’ve learned to help others.
Thanks to our Myeloma Coach sponsors