Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, Medications, overcoming adversity

Mindfulness Demonstrated…It’s Amazing

We hear a lot about mindfulness and engaging in the practice of mindfulness, but have you seen the impact for yourself? We’re told over and over that mindfulness is the key to inner peace, allowing us to focus on what’s important. If you’re one of the skeptics allow me to share my most recent finding.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the importance of meditation as outlined by Dan Harris in 10% Happier. Harris had a panic attack while reporting on Good Morning America. After much soul searching, psychiatrist visits, and retreats he concluded that meditation is the one thing that brings him to center and has improved his life.

I’m a seeker. I love learning new things, exploring the things that capture my attention, and expand what I think is possible. I look for reporters that are covering topics we would like to breeze by because they make us uncomfortable. Lisa Ling is one of those reporters. Ling’s show Our America with Lisa Ling, airs on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), tackles tough issues that we grapple with every day. Her latest show was about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

There are fifteen million people in the United States diagnosed with ADHD, most of them children. It’s disruptive to the lives of the children and their families. It leaves school systems feeling helpless and at odds with how to provide an education to these kids without interfering with their regular school programs. The episode followed those who are taking medication, as many do, and a case where an alternative to medication was used.

Wilson, a child with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder was struggling through school. Things got so bad that in the second grade he told his mother that if he had to go back to school he was going to commit suicide. Fortunately his mother, an educator, hired an education advocate and they found salvation at The Hunter School.

The Hunter School is a unique boarding and therapeutic school helping young children with ADHD, Anxiety, Sensory and related conditions(taken from their website, www.hunterschool.org). The first shift in perspective came from the administrator. She reframed ADHD as a diagnosis to calling these children Energetically Sensitive.  It shifted the cloud hanging over these kids to blue skies of hope.

The school is truly unique. The student teacher ratio is 1:3, unheard of in the American education system. The school takes a holistic approach, no medication. In its place the children are taught to meditate. They are guided in techniques to center themselves. If a child is disruptive in the classroom he or she is taken out of the class and brought to the mindful room where the student and the teacher work on refocusing, centering, and strategizing about ways to regain control.

Wilson, the student I spoke about earlier is thriving. He lives at the school during the week. His life has totally changed. He feels re-invented. He’s learned to structure his life so it’s manageable. He is renewed body, mind, and spirit. He eloquently discusses his new lease on life.

I understand that not every child has access to an educational institution like The Hunter School, but the school model is one we need to explore. The next question is if it works for kids, what could the impact be for adults. Dan Harris talks about the impact of going on a ten-day silent retreat and other meditation revelations.

I’m not saying that mindfulness is a cure for everything, but explore it. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, angry or simply out-of-sorts, explore the impact of mindfulness. As always I’m not saying this is the definitive answer. You should always consult with a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to explore your options so your choices are made with informed consent.

Facing Adversity?  Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Exploring how Art impacts healing the body, mind, and spirit?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Yesterday the Owner’s Manual, Today the Pink Slip

Let’s say that you indeed have found or created an owner’s manual for your body, now what?  It’s like the difference between renting an apartment and owning a home, can you make any changes or do they have to be pre-approved by a third party?  That’s where the pink slip comes in, who has the pink slip on your life? 

You may believe that in a world overrun with rules, regulations, and obligations that ownership is beyond the realm of your consciousness, but the truth is you do own your body.  If you own your body then aren’t you responsible for your body?  Having been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness doesn’t change the rules of ownership.  If anything being diagnosed with an illness requires that you become a more involved and conscious owner.  It requires that you do everything in your power not to void the warranty on your life.

I know all this metaphor stuff can be kind of confusing, so let’s break it down into the simplest form possible.  No one but you is responsible for your life and your body.  The team you recruit to help you maximize your level of health and healing can only do their jobs if you do yours.  Are you willing to make that kind of pledge? 

So often when we’re requires to take a pledge we back away from the issue or behavior we’re trying to correct.  Yesterday on the Oprah show, Oprah busted Lisa Ling for driving with her knee so she could text while driving.  Oprah asked Ling if she would sign a pledge to not only eliminate the behavior of texting while driving, but to relinquish all cell phone behaviors in the car.  You could see the sweat forming on Lisa Ling’s brow and her immediate response was the excuse that she lives in LA and that’s the culture.  Oprah came back with, “but isn’t texting while driving illegal in California?”

Ling did agree to cease all texting while driving and did commit to using a blue tooth device if she needed to use her cell phone while driving.  That should have been a no brainer commitment and yet it was only under duress and embarrassment that she succumbed to the agreement.  So what kind of vow to improve your level of wellness have you been avoiding?  Why is it so hard for you to commit to your own well-being when you only get one chance at life?  Isn’t it in your best interest and the interest of those you love to do everything in your power to claim ownership of your body instead of giving ownership to the illness?  I wouldn’t think there would be much debate about this but I could be wrong.  What are your thoughts on this?