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Mindfulness meditation helps control response to sadness


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I found this fascinating and felt inspired to share. :) What I have found in my healing around herpes is that there are many, many things over the course of a lifetime (heck, over the course of a day) that can suck me into sadness. So herpes was the thing that I thought if I could "get over" then I'd be happy forever. And then what I found was that life has a way of continuing to hand us what we can affectionately call "learning opportunities." ;) But whenever one of these opportunities shows up, if I can maintain a healthy distance from the feeling (especially if the feeling is strong), and "notice" my emotions as they are happening, I don't get sucked into them as much. They get to move through instead of latching on. It's felt to me like a river; sometimes the river can be raging rapids ... if I don't hold onto solid ground, I could get swept downstream. But if I can stay with watching it as it sweeps past me, I can stay with my experience.

 

And yes, it is a practice. (But a damn worthwhile practice.) What I see so much of the time with my coaching clients (and with myself, too, of course) is the tendency to unconsciously practice thought patterns that have me feeling sad or fearful. This means that adopting a more conscious mindfulness practice counteracts all that unconscious practice that has been happening for years.

 

So to all of you who are suffering with your experience of the herps (especially if you're brand new to it), it might help to see this as something of an emotional bootcamp; it could be making you stronger and more emotionally aware ...

 

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Mindfulness meditation helps control response to sadness

 

Scientists at the University of Toronto may have found a training method to help people control their responses to sadness, according to a 2010 study from the journal Emotion. fMRI brain scans revealed that people who used this mindfulness training responded differently at a neural level — another instance of how the brain’s neuroplasticity can be harnessed positively.

 

Mindfulness training: why it could work

A number of past studies have found that the more metacognitive awareness people have of their emotional states, the better they can control those emotions. Metacognition is the ability to think about your own thinking — to step back and realize when you’re being angry, or upset, or overjoyed, and to rationally consider your own mental state.

 

Given this knowledge, these University of Toronto researchers hypothesized that mindfulness training might help people regulate their responses to negative emotions without compromising the full experience of that emotion. Mindfulness isn’t about suppressing emotional pain; it teaches the calm acceptance of any negative sensations and positive ones, recognizing these as perfectly normal fluctuations.

 

In the past, mindfulness training has also been effective for patients suffering from physical pain — a promising finding, given that physical and emotional pain have shared roots in the brain.

 

8 weeks of mindfulness training to help reduce stress

Researchers recruited 36 participants already enrolled in a stress-reduction program at a Toronto health center. These participants answered 3 questionnaires about their levels of depression, anxiety, and other symptoms. Scores revealed that participants were moderately depressed — unsurprising given their enrollment in the stress-reduction program.

 

Half of the participants were put in the control group, where they went through their standard stress-reduction program at the health center for the next 8 weeks.

 

The other participants went through additional in-person mindfulness training taught through lying, sitting, walking, eating, or yoga. On their own time, these trainees were also given computer-based mindfulness “homework” that instructed them to pay attention to their feelings and bodily sensations. All mindfulness training encouraged them to cultivate an acceptance of all experiences, facing difficulties and discomfort face-on by developing their metacognitive awareness.

 

Several times over these 8 weeks, both the control and training groups were called in for emotional evaluations. They lay in an fMRI brain scanner and watched either neutral or sad film clips. Afterwards, they rated how sad they felt in response to what they’d just watched.

 

Mindfulness training changes symptoms and brain patterns

After 8 weeks, all participants answered the same 3 questionnaires from the beginning of the study. Mindfulness trainees reported feeling significantly less depressed. What’s more, fMRI brains scans supported these findings: mindfulness trainees exhibited different brain activity than the control group when watching sad films. Training seemed to have changed how their brains expressed sadness.

 

But crucially, both the control and training groups rated the films they watched as equally sad. Training didn’t seem to desensitize participants to emotional pain; they were simply better at maintaining their mental composure afterwards.

 

Emotional control, depression, and anxiety are conditions that millions of people experience, and mindfulness may represent a simple intervention method that preserves the full range of emotional experience. You can always try adopting the practice of acceptance and awareness into your own life.

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Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

Helpful resources:

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if I can maintain a healthy distance from the feeling (especially if the feeling is strong), and "notice" my emotions as they are happening, I don't get sucked into them as much. They get to move through instead of latching on. It's felt to me like a river; sometimes the river can be raging rapids ... if I don't hold onto solid ground, I could get swept downstream. But if I can stay with watching it as it sweeps past me, I can stay with my experience.

 

I love this ... because I try to practice this too ... and over the last few years it has become easier and easier to do. It definitely isn't something you learn over night, but for anyone who is ready to finally "get over it", this is the healthiest way I know of processing the feelings and moving on.

 

And BTW, Adrial is an AMAZING Life Coach (I've seen him in action!) ... so anyone on here who is ready to let go of their sadness, depression, and pain, I am sure he could help you to work on this ;)

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I try to do this. But in all fairness I have just started practicing this. It's hard to step back & take a hard look at what your feeling. Adrial if you ever have some free time id be extremely grateful if you could help a sista out.. I'm a hot mess :) ugh lol

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Hey hope29 and sw85!

 

Because there have been so many H Oppers out there asking for this, I've been hard at work over the past year (yep, a full year!) creating a 4-part guide that will walk you through not just these specific mindset techniques and practices, but then how you apply those as a foundation to how you relate to dating, then having the herpes talk all the way to having a deeply passionate and sexy relationship. It's pretty awesome AND quite comprehensive. (It's what I wish I had when I first got herpes.) :)

 

If you'd like to get on the early interest list to get a heads up when we relaunch it, here's where to do that: http://herpesopportunity.com/course-having-the-talk.php

Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

Helpful resources:

Link to comment

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