My experience with my bariatric surgeon's support group is that it was useful in preparing me pre-surgery and for a short-term post-op in managing my new anatomy. However, it did little to educate me on how to maintain lifetime obesity disease management. My surgeon told me, "I do the surgery. The rest is up to you." So, in this series of posts, I will discuss the tools that I use to sustain long-term weight loss following bariatric surgery._
The discovery that, "It's not the events of our lives that stress us, but rather the interpretation of those events."
New age mumbo jumbo? Hardly. The above quote is from Epictetus, 50 A.D. Through meditation we learn mindfulness, which focuses on self-empowerment through increasing awareness of being in the present moment. This enables us, as the sharepost title suggests, in overcoming matters that stress us.
Meditation, nearly as old as humanity, has always been part of Eastern religions. Now the West is rediscovering its own meditative past. I, for one, am living proof of that.
This is news, folks.
I'm not someone who owns crystals, travels to an Ashram, or even reads New Age magazines. But when therapy and anti-depressants failed to enable me to deal powerfully with the overwhelming stress I'd experienced from difficult life events, and unexpectedly the gift of MBSR was presented to me, I decided to test the waters. Later, this would prove to be a turning point.
Meditation is practiced by more than 10 million American adults, many of them mainstream upwardly mobile professionals such as me who don't practice under a bearded guru in the mountains. As clinical study has followed clinical study indicating that complementary therapies have a measurable influence on a wide range of health issues - chronic pain, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, tolerance of cancer therapies, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, post-operative recovery - attitudes have changed.
Since Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, first introduced the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction 30-years ago, there has been an expansion of mindfulness-based therapy programs to include anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, behavioral problems, pain, high blood pressure, etc. What's more, scientists have proven that meditation strengthens the immune system, increases heart health, reduces stress, slows biological aging, strengthens coping skills, even changes brain chemistry - and can be instrumental in helping us create positive behavior changes.
MBSR is offered at some 350 sites across the country, mostly hospitals. The typical 8-week program includes weekly 2-hr classes and one full-day retreat. Zinn's program is very powerful. So, steer clear of "knock-off" programs that dilute the time-tested evidence-based results of the methods developed at UMass. The curriculum follows a rational and purposeful progression. There is a process that happens: I saw a real shift in myself about halfway through the program.
A study by Davidson and Kabat-Zinn et al showed that after training in mindfulness meditation (MBSR) for eight weeks, study participants process information in a more positive way, using more optimistic sides of their frontal cortex rather than negative sides. You don't get that with a 2-3 week mini-program or by reading the book because you don't have the benefit or progression of the process.
The course includes guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices; gentle stretching, mindful yoga, inquiry and application into experiences of daily living, group dialogue, home assignments and audio recordings.
The audio recording helps to keep the practice alive in my life. I try to use it every day. It is a tool that has benefitted my health and well-being in numerous ways. I no longer turn to food as a coping mechanism during times of stress, in fact I am stressed much less these days.