Using Peace of Mind to Cope with MS
In this chaotic world in which we live, it is hard to be still, to sit with nothing but our thoughts. There is always something to worry about or preoccupy our minds that never allows us to rest in the present.
As I sit on the patio and write, the gentle breeze and beautiful surroundings offer peace. I close my computer shut my eyes and, for a moment, I am calm. There are no thoughts of pain or worrying about my next procedure, no thoughts of medical bills or my ever-expanding to-do list. There are no what-ifs and no contemplation of the future. When I open my eyes, the influx is overwhelming and my mind suddenly is inundated with everything I had so fleetingly blocked.
The constant capitulation of our daily lives heightens with the addition of a chronic disease, erratic and unpredictable side effects, and ever-increasing medical bills. Sometimes blocking out the external noise is not only comforting, but also necessary. Our neurologists have told us that stress exacerbates the symptoms of multiple sclerosis; I find that to be quite ironic as MS tends to stress me out! This is quite the conundrum. Yet, however difficult it is to de-stress, it is imperative for us to try.
So, how do we curb the chaos?
Waiting for the moment to arise is generally futile. We tend to fill the brevity of free time with cellphones, additional errands, TV, etc. That Zen moment will not come to you, so it is imperative you carve out time for you and create it. Don’t let your excuses prevail because they will try. Instead, be creative and find a time when you can be away from people, electronics, and any outside stimuli.
Being an early riser, the time I cherish most is prior to sunrise, the still quiet of the dawn broken only by the early birds beginning their song. Mornings are very difficult, as much of my body hurts and is numb. I hesitate to move too much, so sitting quietly with my heating pad and coffee is soothing. With the warmth of the heat helping my legs, I often vacillate between prayer and meditation, and for a brief space in time, I am calm. Meditation looks different for everyone, but for me, prayer plays an integral role. Talking to God brings me serenity. Regardless of the assault the multiple sclerosis wages, faith centers me.
It is important to find what works for you. I encourage you to exit your comfort zone in search of that something. Being an overachieving control freak, I never thought meditation was something I would try, let alone regard as an effective tool. It took years of persuasion before I realized the relentless spinning in my mind was negatively affecting my health as much as my physical challenges were. Whatever works to calm your mind eventually will serve to calm your health.
Something very effective in transporting my mind to a calmer state has been guided imagery. More than a decade ago, a friend introduced me to this, and after listening to several, I found one that spoke to me. Finding a CD that guides you to a place you have an affinity with is important, as is finding a voice that calms you. My happy place is at my childhood home surrounded by family; the beach at sunset is a close second. After listening to guided imagery for a while, I learned how to guide my own mind to a place of solitude and peace.
It is important to note there is no right or wrong way to carve out some time to quiet your mind. A houseful of family may require that you take those extra few minutes locked in the bathroom or in the shower. Be creative. Be bold. Be proactive in finding something that offers you that time to sit and be with yourself. Use that time to soothe your being.
We spend so much time quantifying the physical effects of our multiple sclerosis. It is equally important to account for and nurture our minds. The mind-body connection is powerful, and I have found, despite my progression, that I am better equipped to cope with whatever the MS hands me on any given day.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.