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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry BerkelhammerThis 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 and I will answer them on a future Friday in this column.

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

The following is the most common question I am asked:

Question:  You talk a lot about the importance of mindfulness practice and that it should include a formal sitting meditation practice. But, I’ve seriously tried to practice mindfulness and it’s just not something I can do; it doesn’t suit my personality because I can’t sit still and because my mind keeps wandering.  Can’t I get the same benefits from my yoga practice?  

Answer: Many people have told me that they don’t have the right mindset to do sitting meditation and simply can’t do it. They either tell me they just can’t sit still, or that their minds just keep wandering. I’ve had a mindfulness practice since 1980 and my mind still wanders all over the place when I do my sitting meditation. However, through practice, I’ve become quite proficient at lovingly returning my attention to my intended object of focus (sensations of breathing) whenever I notice that my mind has wandered off somewhere. 

Although there are people with neurological damage that makes it impossible to practice, the vast majority of people who think they can’t maintain a daily mindfulness practice are in fact quite capable of doing so. The truth is that they are choosing to practice yoga rather than mindfulness meditation. That’s a perfectly valid choice, but it’s important to acknowledge that it is in fact a choice, and that it is rarely due to not being capable of engaging in mindfulness practice.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Yoga is a form of training the mind and building concentration.  Countless studies have proven many health benefits to those who practice it everyday. Mindfulness can be incorporated into yoga practice, but the two practices are complementary rather than equivalent.  Yoga clearly has more benefits to the health of the body.

My recommendation: Register for an 8-week class in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, most commonly referred to as MBSR. That class offers a magnificent blend of yoga and mindfulness meditation and will give you a clear perspective on the complementarity of these two amazing practices. MBSR is the creation of Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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?  Each Friday, I will answer your questions in Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box and you’ll see my response to you in an upcoming Friday post.

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