Monday, June 5, 2017

Mindfulness for Myasthenia Gravis

To be diagnosed with myasthenia gravis is a devastating experience, especially when the doctor tells you that there is no cure, except controlling the symptoms with long-term use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. This may lead to depression and despair.

Myasthenia gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases attacking humans. The major characteristic of the disorder is weakness of muscles, which can occur in any part of the body, but most notably in the eyes and the limbs. The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is double vision and general physical disability.

No matter what, we must accept the reality, and believe in miracles, just as Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live your life: believing that nothing is a miracle, or believing as though everything is a miracle.” Believe in the miracle of healing, with or without drugs.

But how can we believe in the miracle of healing. God has given us an innate self-healing mechanism that enables us to fight and recover from diseases, including autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, many of us ignored this natural healing; instead we have sought healing through science (I am not saying that science does not play a pivotal role in medicine and healing, but we often put too much emphasis on its efficacy that we have disregarded the natural laws of healing. As a result, our natural self-healing mechanism may have become compromised and ineffective.

Mindfulness plays an important role in our lives: it affects how we think, how we live our lives, and how we look at our health.

What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is deliberate presence of mind in a non-judgmental way, often focusing on something apparently insignificant, such as our breathing. Mindfulness is letting go of doing, at least for now, and learning how to be in the present moment. Say, you have been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, and you feel distressed and distraught. Instead of taking drastic actions to cope with the disease symptoms, you let yourself to be doing less, but noticing more, with the ultimate objective of probe into your mind to release wisdom on how to deal with your myasthenia gravis. Very often, humans rush to actions without much thinking. The downside of this is rashness is making the wrong decisions, creating the anticipation that not only causes stress but may ultimately bring about disappointment, which only further aggravates the stress. Remember, stress is not only the underlying cause of myasthenia gravis but also the major contributor to the worsening of the disease symptoms. Essentially, the function of mindfulness is to quiet the mind so that it may see things as they really are, and not what they appear to be. Being to be in the present moment and to act later with wisdom is preferred to acting and reacting without second thoughts.

Mindfulness is a way of being—it has been around for millennia. It is not a new concept, although recent scientific research has attested to its health benefits. Its major contribution to mental health is that mindfulness can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness also contributes to physical health in that it helps the immune system recover and speed up any healing process. In addition, mindfulness is instrumental in correcting behavior patterns, such as sleep which plays a pivotal role in reducing stress and improving symptoms of myasthenia gravis. All in all, mindfulness changes your brain chemicals to help you cope with your disease symptoms.

But how do you develop mindfulness?

Mindfulness begins with breathing. Mindful of your breathing is the way. We all breathe, and few of us are mindful of how we breathe. When you are mindful of your breathing in and breathing out, you become aware of the presence of your mind in the now. When your mind slows down, you become mindful of what is happening around you. So, begin to spend some time each day to notice your breaths. You can do this while you are waiting for the bus or train.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


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