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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 a vibrant, meaningful life while living with chronic health challenges or other life challenges.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are evidence-based published articles on mindfulness research and mindfulness-based practices, especially as they relate to health. Wednesday posts are videos of my presentations or interviews. Friday posts consist of Q&A related to living a meaningful, values-based life, regardless of the nature of your particular life challenges.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: What do you mean by the cultivation of Open-Heartedness?

ANSWER: As with the previously explored concepts of receptivity and curiosity, openheartedness, for obvious reasons, makes making new friends more likely. More than that, it engenders self-acceptance and acceptance of others. Receptivity, curiosity, and openheartedness are three ways of describing very similar behavior, all of which are conducive to health. Openheartedness correlates with healthy cardiovascular structure and function. When I lecture, I often have my audience imagine the last time they were extremely angry or extremely stressed-out. Then I have them imagine the last time they felt a deep sense of love for someone. When asked, they usually describe feeling tightness in the chest when imagining the last time they felt anger or stress. When they imagine the last time they felt deep love, they describe a warmth and opening in their chest—this is much healthier than the tightness.

What I have found most effective in the cultivation of openheartedness is the recognition to ourselves that we are committed to a life of practice rather than to perfection. It’s important to forgive ourselves whenever we notice that our behavior fell short of what we value.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges or issues related to wellbeing. 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 living a life of mastery or about the relationship between the mind and health or wellbeing? Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. Your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one. People in my classes and presentations asked most of the questions appearing in this column.

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