fragmented.ME …
mind * body * soul ...

mindfulness for ME …

Reading time: 15 Minutes

How many times have you said this to yourself …

I need to start listening to what my body is telling me …

I have said this a thousand times, as I am sure you have too.

In other words, what I actually mean when I say it is that I need to be more mindful of how my body is actually feeling, at any given moment, in order to behave accordingly and appropriately and not make myself any sicker. I have a terrible habit of triggering adrenaline (see Jodi Bassett post adrenaline & ME …) in order to be able to do something or to be able push through to the end of doing some thing. Being like this always leaves me sicker in the immediate short-term, and in the long-term I never recover to my pre adrenaline triggered episode level of sickness. I am always worse. Part of me wants to refer to this ‘sickness’ aspect as ‘health’, instead of sickness, but it has been so been many years since I felt like I had any level of health and so I feel that sickness is the most appropriate and correct term to use … (I’m not being negative friends, I’m being realistic).

That said, being mindfully aware of how you’re feeling or thinking, in any given moment, is actually much easier said than done for most people. Particularly so when you’re long-term chronically sick and have trained yourself to ignore your symptoms so that you aren’t always thinking about how sick you are and possibly so that you can carry on with chores even though you feel sick. And, even more so, when you have other drivers pushing you to carry on. These drivers may be yourself, your upbringing, significant others, guilt. In fact, they can be anything that makes you carry on or do something when you are internally screaming . . .

N O O O O O O O !    S T O P . . .

Whatever these drivers are, once you have triggered the adrenaline needed, there is no stopping you. And often, in that moment, even though you may be sweating, shaking (externally as well as internally), breathless and feeling utterly dreadful, like you might even die any minute, psychologically it doesn’t half feel good to be able to achieve. Just this once (is what I always tell myself), I won’t do this again because I know I am causing myself harm. But of course I do, I do it all the time in order to do anything, it’s how I seem to live …

But, the aftermath is miserable.

Post Exertional Malaise (PEM) payback is the biggest bitch ever …

and the adrenaline come down can take days or weeks of feeling like you’ve drunk too much coffee and just can’t get it out of your system …

So we can ask ourselves, is there a way, for us with ME, to be more mindful of this? And how can we implement being more mindful into our own patterns? And, on a personal level, and more importantly, how can I implement mindfulness inclinations and behaviours soon enough so I don’t keep making pushing on and making myself sicker?

With these questions in mind this blog post will look at mindfulness around three areas.

  • Can I be more mindful about what I can and can’t do?
  • How can I implement what I’ve discovered?
  • And how can implement it soon enough?

Can I be more mindful about what I can and can’t do?

Mindfulness is about being aware of what you are experiencing in the moment, both physically (such as breathing) and mentally (such as emotion) and observing such with an openness and kind and easy acceptance.

Being mindful is not some super fix or cure all but it is a much healthier way to deal with our experiences. Being sick all the time can leave us with negative thoughts about our lot in life and being sick and in pain can really make us question if we want to carry on living.

Thoughts stimulated from our experiences, can be positive or negative and will create a biochemical state in our body that can be either MORE beneficial or MORE harmful to our already unhealthy biochemical and biophysical state. With this in mind, although being mindful won’t cure us, it will make our biochemical and biophysical state a better one than the alternative, which long term will have outcomes that will make our chronically sick life more tolerable.

In Practice

In practice being mindful might look like this (this is just one example and you can exchange the details for any situation you find yourself in):

You’ve woken up, in considerable pain again, and you have things that need doing as well as things you would like to do; it’s been over a week since your last bath, you can’t remember the last time you washed your hair, and you know you smell, even though ‘others’ say you don’t smell …

And so when you open your eyes from sleep and are bombarded with so much pain that you have no idea where hurts most, and on top of that the exhaustion is crippling; you just cannot find the energy needed to simply cope …

all of this and you’ve literally just woken up from sleep …

There are quite a few things you could do. However, I want to concentrate on just two scenarios that you have available, which would actually cover most options anyway. One will be a negative scenario or reaction and the other will be a more positive scenario or reaction, (you can change the finer details to fit your situation but I’m sure you will be able to relate to both scenarios) … The idea is that we recognise that we have choices in how we react. We are not denying our situation, because that would be unrealistic and is what I call toxic positivity (I think I can feel another post idea in this emotive subject matter), we are simply choosing to see our situation in a way that creates a better internal environment for our already sick body to live in.

scenario negative …

YOU CAN:

Flop back down and think desperately: oh no, not again, I absolutely hate my life, I can’t do anything, and the pain is f**king unbearable, my body is useless and BLAH BLAH BLAH … (I’m sure you know the rest very well) … I cannot do this any longer …

You then proceed to get up, get on with your day, huffing and puffing and moaning and groaning, triggering the adrenaline in order to get on and get through, knowing full well there is absolutely no way you should be doing this nor are you capable of doing this.

You are now making your internal environment much poorer biochemically and biophysically.

You are making yourself sicker …

O R . . .

scenario positive …

YOU CAN:

Open your eyes and breathe softly and easy, while you scan your body with a loving gentle kindness, noticing where it hurts and how you feel about waking up like this for how ever long it’s been going on (no judgement allowed, just soft easy acceptance).

You can then show yourself some compassion, the way you would treat a delicate loved one who is extremely sick, take some pain medication if you need or take them, and lay down and breathe, or even go on a beautiful imaginary journey, while the medications or the meditations, or even both, begin to work …

You are now making your internal environment much better biochemically and biophysically.</>

You are not making yourself sicker …

The thing is, neither of these scenarios will cure you but both will have an impact on and change your biochemical and biophysical state. The most wonderful part in this is that you get to choose which it will be.

There are so many pieces of research that show we have the abilty to change our internal state, just by our thoughts. The Biochemistry of Belief is one piece of research that clearly shows the chemicals from different thought or belief states will alter the whole internal environment within your body. Meaning that in our examples, scenario positive will produce chemicals that are more prone to healing, calmness and peace, whereas, the chemicals from scenario negative will be stress-based and more harmful and unfriendly kind of chemicals.

Powerful knowledge to have in the palm of your hand. This works for everybody, regardless of how severe you are. Because even if you are mildly or moderately affected by ME and still have to get up and do the chores on your list, you will, if you do it, and can, when you do it, have made the environment inside your body a much healthier one to do anything from, causing less damage to an already sick body. And if you’re severely affected by ME, then it’s highly likely you will not go on to push yourself in order to do anything out of your sickness ability level because the biochemical and biophysical environment you have created will now be giving biofeedback that is calm peaceful and accepting of where you are at.

powerful knowledge indeed …

U S E   I T   . . .

How can I implement what I’ve discovered?

So the big question from all of the above so far is, how can I implement what I’ve discovered? Put simply, scenario negatives will need to be replaced with with scenario positives, and to do this you will need to become mindful of when you are running scenario negative narratives in order to be able to replace them with scenario positive narratives. You may think to yourself, ‘this really doesn’t apply to me, I don’t run negative or positive narratives, I simply just be’. However, our minds are designed to think and if you pay attention, be mindful, you will notice most of the time you are running some kind of narrative story in your mind.

This is where the implementation of mindfulness is necessary, in order to become aware of scenario negatives and exchange them with scenario positives. This sounds easy enough in theory. Yet, in practice it is one of the most difficult things to do. Especially when you are in pain and suffering and your automatic reaction is to, understandably, get upset, disgruntled and stressed. Stress, in any form, will often subconsciously revert us back to universally automatic, ingrained or even upbringing programmed, ways of being. Which in turn means that your biochemical and biophysical state keeps reverting back too …. over and over. And if everyday you are faced with the same stuff, be it ‘to do lists’, ‘sickness & pain’, or otherwise, it’s like ‘50 first dates’ or ‘groundhog day’ each time we open our eyes. To combat this on a daily basis is rock hard. But you can do it.

R E M E M B E R

any scenario, positive or negative, real or imagined, has an impact on your biochemical and biophysical internal environment …

YOU HAVE A CHOICE

s o   w h y   n o t   c h o o s e   t h e   o n e
t h a t   w i l l   b e    m o r e   p o s i t i v e   f o r   y o u
A N D
m a k e   y o u r   i n t e r n a l   e n v i r o n m e n t   b e t t e r  . . .

The Hows

A search online will reveal to us that there are many ways to tackle this. But an article I found on Tiny Buddha was straight forward enough for me to simplify, implement and then regurgitate in my own words below.

Automatic behaviours or patterns, ways of responding and doing, or even being, are such because they have been written into our subconscious, often from childhood, as previously noted. So in order to re-write those we will need to write into our subconscious. And in order to write to the subconscious we need to become aware, as also noted above, and we can become aware by paying attention.

goal : to write to subconscious

how : paying attention means we become aware which in turn means we can write new to the subconscious by doing different

By way of example:

I always, always, wake up with a headache, often it will be an unbearable migraine, coupled with all over body pain of varying degrees, and topped off with utter exhaustion, feeling like I’ve had no sleep at all. My automatic reaction to waking up like this was to moan, try to escape, and become extremely irritable to myself and towards those around me. Thus releasing stress chemicals and hormones into my body. It took me hours before I would recognise that I was doing this. And so I needed to become ‘thought’ or ‘mind’ aware. I needed to become more conscious of what I was actually thinking and then what I was doing in response to the thoughts about these daily awful experiences.

It sounds contradictory when we don’t want to behave in a certain to start the change by paying attention to it, by being conscious of it. It almost feels counterintuitive to give attention to it rather than ignore it. But, you have give attention to it, to notice it, in order to actively change it. Because usually these behaviours or responses are so automatic that we only realise ‘we’ve done it again’ by paying attention. Hence, the more aware you become of something, the more power you will have to change it.

One dictionary definition of mindfulness states it as:

  • the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  • a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

And so the only way to implement these changes is, to pay attention, be aware, or in other words become mindful of your narrative stories …

And how can I implement it soon enough?

So, in my personal daily waking up example above, I needed to become more and more aware of what I was thinking and how I was responding to that thinking. Until I eventually got to awareness in seconds rather than hours. The more you practice the more it becomes automatic; written into your subconscious.

Then once I was that aware I could then do something different.

I found the following techniques to be extremely useful in developing awareness of my processes:

Consciously feeling your body

Consciously feeling your body is about being aware of what you are feeling in your body at a chosen, or at any given, moment. People with ME don’t like to do this because often we are always feeling sick and / or in pain and it feels uncomfortable to be aware of those feelings for too long. But, if we don’t give them attention we may simply ignore them and carry on, missing the opportunity to change our biochemical and biophysical state in order to encourage a more healing environment.

For example:

You might have body parts that tense up when you are engaged in work or some activity, for me interactions and communications with people are enough to cause me tension because of the amount of effort it takes of to me to engage with people.

This would lead to PEM and really bad headaches and upper back pain, leaving me extremely exhausted, leading to frustration and migraines the following day. Becoming aware, or mindful, of this has helped me to consciously prepare for conversations and engagement with people, using breathing techniques beforehand and throughout. It has also thought how little I can actually tolerate. Resulting in me being strict regarding not going on for too long.

Initially I had to consciously make myself do the breathing techniques and do a lot of extra thinking throughout a conversation about how I was feeling in the here-and-now, which had its own payback issues, whereas now it’s almost second nature for me to do them.

An easy technique you can use to become aware of your body is a body scan style meditation. This is where you scan through your body, starting at the soles of your feet moving up to the top of your head, noticing how each part feels. As you do this, find and consciously relax any tense, aching or sore parts, thus changing your biochemical and biophysical state. These changes are key to relaxation and encouraging a more healing state and you will also feel better as you release tensions and feelings that your body has held onto around this awful illness.

Consciously feeling your emotions

Consciously feeling your emotions is about knowing what thoughts produce what kinds of emotional responses in your body. This can help you loosen the grips of any strongly held negative patterns you may have.

A good technique is to consciously recreate high emotionally scenarios when you’re alone and feeling safe in order to retrain your reaction(s) for the next time you bump up against this issue.

For example:

Let’s say that having to have a meeting with a doctor causes you anxiety and fear. I know I definitely do feel this way because of all the medical gaslighting I’ve experienced.

The thought that they won’t believe me, because all my tests are maybe negative, plagues me and I get sweaty, irate and tearful (emotions that always make my ME worse) because it triggers an adrenaline response. And because I trigger the adrenaline I don’t behave like the very sick person I actually. I’m kind of buzzing. Sometimes kind of crazy. And other times I actually cry, something I don’t do often at all.

When you find yourself in these situations it’s extremely difficult to consciously do anything in that moment because it creeps upon you, no matter how much you have planned your words, emotions take over.

That said, when you get back home you can spend some time training your mind and your body will follow.

Find a cozy safe spot.

Take a few deep breaths.

And recreate the scenario.

It will probably evoke similar, if not the same, highly charged responses and emotions as the actual experience. But this time you stop yourself becoming lost in the automatic pattern(s) that try to rise. You can instead consciously feel all your emotions in their fullest without being afraid or over powered by them. Feeling your emotions this way weakens their power over you.

You are now becoming aware of thought patterns and the reactions they create in your body. This awareness slowly starts to dissolve existing thought patterns and their corresponding emotional responses.

Next time you visit the same doctor, or a similar situation just a different doctor, you will be aware when certain thoughts start getting generated and your body’s emotional response. But because you have already felt your emotions consciously and because you are aware of your thought patterns, you will find that they have significantly weaker reactions. Continue this and soon the reactions would die down completely.

Consciously watching your thoughts

Consciously watching your thoughts is about trying to become an observer of what you are thinking rather than being tied up with the story of the thoughts. Being alone most of the time we can get lost in our thoughts for the most part. The idea in ‘watching’ our thoughts is to detach from them for a few moments and watch them as a neutral observer.

Doing this can allow you to become aware of any negative thought patterns that you may have. You may even find yourself questioning your beliefs, which in turn will weaken those negative beliefs and then you can consciously replace them with positive ones. Again this all helps to create a biochemical and biophysical state that is a much healthier want and more conducive to healing.

For example :

Sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths, and calm yourself down. Start to become aware of your mind producing thoughts without engaging with them. If you find yourself getting engaged with the thought, take a moment to acknowledge that and return back to watching.

If certain thoughts produce strong emotions in you, feel the emotions instead of trying to suppress the thoughts. Divert your attention within your body and feel the energy behind these thoughts.

As you watch your thoughts, you will become aware of many negative thought patterns running in you. Simply becoming aware of these patterns is enough for them to start disintegrating.

Consciously focusing your attention

Consciously focusing your attention is about gaining control over where your attention goes. In any given moment, our attention is usually divided between many things. Most of us don’t have any control over our attention. It just wanders about, like a lost lamb, anywhere it wants.

Learning to focus your attention will help you gain control over your it. And the more control you have, the better you will be able to practice the all of the methods discussed above.

Meditation can be a most effective way to enable us to get mastery over our attention. It trains us to not follow any old thought that pops into our head, and to keep bringing your attention back to your focus point, which is usually the breath.

Using the very same style you can feel your emotions for longer periods of time without getting pulled into thinking and story telling narratives. Similarly, you can watch your thoughts for longer without getting lost in them. You can also stay mindful for longer periods of time.

One of the many symptoms of ME is an inability to focus. So here, meditation really can come into its own. Meditation will help you get mastery over your attention.

In Summary & In Conclusion

You can start listening to what your body is telling you. However, to do so takes effort, at least initially anyhow. The key is being mindfully aware of our:

 f e e l i n g s * e m o t i o n s * t h o u g h t s * a t t e n t i o n

This will enable us to we are be more mindful about what we can and can’t do. This will have the beneficial knock on effect of altering our biochemical and biophysical state, which in turn will alter our internal state to one more conduct to health and healing. This can lead to slight improvements, which can always be beneficial.

Therefore, the above methods can also be your gateway to deeper awareness. They can be used separately or together, depending on what you need or what you find beneficial at any particular time.

They have helped me loads and I believe they can help you too. You just need to given them a go and feel free to contact me to share your outcomes or with any questions you may have.

 fragmented.ME xXx

Last Updated on 06/04/2021 by fragmented_ME

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My birth name is Denise, but I’m know as Bella to those who love me. I have a first class honours degree in education & psychology and a strong passion to keep learning and educating others ... I have severe ME/CFS and lots of other chronic illnesses and I started this blog as an expansion to my instagram page, where I advocate for chronic illness. I am married and have two grown up boys, or should I say young men. I have three gorgeous grandchildren, one boy and two girls. And despite being chronically sick and housebound I am mostly happy. 🥰

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10 steps to practicing Radical Acceptance
according to DBT’s founder, Marsha Linehan:

 

1.  Observe that you are questioning or fighting reality (“it shouldn’t be this way”)

2.  Remind yourself that the unpleasant reality is just as it is and cannot be changed (“this is what happened”)

3.  Remind yourself that there are causes for the reality (“this is how things happened”)

4.  Practice accepting with your whole self (mind, body, spirit) - Use accepting self-talk, relaxation techniques, mindfulness and/or imagery

5.  List all of the behaviors you would engage in if you did accept the facts and then engage in those behaviors as if you have already accepted the facts

6.  Imagine, in your mind’s eye, believing what you do not want to accept and rehearse in your mind what you would do if you accepted what seems unacceptable

7.  Attend to body sensations as you think about what you need to accept

8.  Allow disappointment, sadness or grief to arise within you

9.  Acknowledge that life can be worth living even when there is pain

10.  Do pros and cons if you find yourself resisting practicing acceptance

Logo of ijpsych

2009 Oct-Dec; 51(4): 239–241.
doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.58285: 10.4103/0019-5545.58285
PMCID: PMC2802367
PMID: 20048445

The biochemistry of belief

Address for correspondence: Dr. TS Sathyanarayana Rao, Department of Psychiatry, JSS University, JSS Medical College Hospital, M.G. Road, Mysore - 570 004, India. E-mail: moc.oohay@91oarsst
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

“Man is what he believes”

Anton Chekhov

Beliefs are basically the guiding principles in life that provide direction and meaning in life. Beliefs are the preset, organized filters to our perceptions of the world (external and internal). Beliefs are like ‘Internal commands’ to the brain as to how to represent what is happening, when we congruently believe something to be true. In the absence of beliefs or inability to tap into them, people feel disempowered.

Beliefs originate from what we hear - and keep on hearing from others, ever since we were children (and even before that!). The sources of beliefs include environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality.

Beliefs are not just cold mental premises, but are ‘hot stuff’ intertwined with emotions (conscious or unconscious). Perhaps, that is why we feel threatened or react with sometimes uncalled for aggression, when we believe our beliefs are being challenged! Research findings have repeatedly pointed out that the emotional brain is no longer confined to the classical locales of the hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus.[1] The sensory inputs we receive from the environment undergo a filtering process as they travel across one or more synapses, ultimately reaching the area of higher processing, like the frontal lobes. There, the sensory information enters our conscious awareness. What portion of this sensory information enters is determined by our beliefs. Fortunately for us, receptors on the cell membranes are flexible, which can alter in sensitivity and conformation. In other words, even when we feel stuck ‘emotionally’, there is always a biochemical potential for change and possible growth. When we choose to change our thoughts (bursts of neurochemicals!), we become open and receptive to other pieces of sensory information hitherto blocked by our beliefs! When we change our thinking, we change our beliefs. When we change our beliefs, we change our behavior.

A mention of the ‘Placebo’ is most appropriate at this juncture. Medical history is replete with numerous reported cases where placebos were found to have a profound effect on a variety of disorders. One such astounding case was that of a woman suffering from severe nausea and vomiting. Objective measurements of her gastric contractions indicated a disrupted pattern matching the condition she complained of. Then a ‘new, magical, extremely potent’ drug was offered to her, which would, the doctors proclaimed, undoubtedly cure her nausea. Within a few minutes, her nausea vanished! The very same gastric tests now revealed normal pattern, when, in actuality, she had been given syrup of ipecac, a substance usually used to induce nausea! When the syrup was presented to her, paired with the strong suggestion of relief of nausea, by an authority figure, it acted as a (command) message to the brain that triggered a cascade of self-regulatory biochemical responses within the body.[2] This instance dramatically demonstrates that the influence of placebo could be more potent than expected drug effect.

An important observation was that, part of the placebo response seemed to involve the meaning of the disorder or the illness to the individual. In other words, the person's belief or how she/he interprets (inter-presents or internally represents) directly governs the biological response or behavior. Another remarkable study involved a schizophrenic. This woman was observed to have split personality. Under normal conditions, her blood glucose levels were normal. However, the moment she believed she was diabetic, her entire physiology changed to become that of a diabetic, including elevated blood glucose levels.[3]

Suggestions or symbolic messages shape beliefs that in turn affect our physical well being. Several cases of ‘Disappearance of warts’ have been reported by Ornstein and Sobel wherein they ponder on how the brain translates the suggestions (sometimes using hypnosis) into systematic biochemical battle strategies such as chemical messengers sent to enlist the aid of immune cells in an assault on the microbe-induced miniature tumor or probably small arteries are selectively constricted, cutting off the vital nutrient supply to warts but not touching the neighboring healthy cells.[2]

Findings of carefully designed research indicate that our interpretation of what we are seeing (experiencing) can literally alter our physiology. In fact, all symptoms of medicine work through our beliefs. By subtly transforming the unknown (disease/disorder) into something known, named, tamed and explained, alarm reactions in the brain can be calmed down. All therapies have a hidden, symbolic value and influence on the psyche, besides the direct specific effect they may have on the body.

Just as amazingly life-affirming placebos are, the reverse, “Nocebo' has been observed to be playing its part too. It is associated with negative, life-threatening or disempowering beliefs. Arthur Barsky, a psychiatrist states that it is the patient's expectations – beliefs whether a drug or procedure works or will have side effects – that plays a crucial role in the outcome.[4]

The biochemistry of our body stems from our awareness.[5] Belief-reinforced awareness becomes our biochemistry. Each and every tiny cell in our body is perfectly and absolutely aware of our thoughts, feelings and of course, our beliefs. There is a beautiful saying ‘Nobody grows old. When people stop growing, they become old’. If you believe you are fragile, the biochemistry of your body unquestionably obeys and manifests it. If you believe you are tough (irrespective of your weight and bone density!), your body undeniably mirrors it. When you believe you are depressed (more precisely, when you become consciously aware of your ‘Being depressed’), you stamp the raw data received through your sense organs, with a judgment – that is your personal view – and physically become the ‘interpretation’ as you internalize it. A classic example is ‘Psychosocial dwarfism’, wherein children who feel and believethat they are unloved, translate the perceived lack of love into depleted levels of growth hormone, in contrast to the strongly held view that growth hormone is released according to a preprogrammed schedule coded into the individual's genes!

Providing scientific evidence to support a holistic approach to well being and healthcare, Bruce Lipton sheds light on mechanism underlying healing at cellular level. He emphasizes that ‘love’ is the most healing emotion and ‘placebo’ effect accounts for a substantial percentage of any drug's action, underscoring the significance of beliefs in health and sickness. According to him, as adults, we still believe in and act our lives out based on information we absorbed as children (pathetic indeed!). And the good news is, we can do something about the ‘tape’ our subconscious mind is playing (ol' silly beliefs) and change them NOW.[6] Further recent literature evidences provided knowledge based on scientific principles of biology of belief. There are limited studies on clinics of traditional beliefs and if we get more scientific data, we can use these traditional systems in clinical mental health management. Human belief system is formed by all the experiences learned and experimented filtered through personality.[7] The senses to capture inner and outer perceptions have higher brain potentials. Some questions that arise in this context are, does the integration and acceptance of these perceptions result in the establishment of beliefs? Does the establishment of these beliefs depend on proof demonstrations? The proofs might be the perceptions, which we can directly see or having scientific proof or custom or faith.[8,9] Beliefs are developed as stimuli received as trusted information and stored in the memory. These perceptions are generalized and established into belief. These beliefs are involved in the moral judgment of the person. Beliefs help in decision-making. Bogousslavsky and Inglin explained that, how some physicians were more successful by taking an account of patient beliefs. Beliefs influence factors involved in the development of psychopathology. They also influence the cognitive and emotional assessment, addictiveness, responses to false positives and persistent normal defensive reactions. Total brain function is required in stabilizing the belief and in responding to environmental system. Some of the brain regions and the neural circuits are very important in establishing beliefs and executing emotions. Frontal lobes play a major role in beliefs. Mental representations of the world are integrated with sub-cortical information by prefrontal cortex. Amygdala and Hippocampus are involved in the process of thinking and thus help in execution of beliefs. NMDA receptor is involved in thinking and in the development of beliefs. These beliefs are subjected to challenge. A belief that is subjected to more challenges becomes stronger. When a new stimulus comes, it creates distress in the brain with already existing patterns. The distress results in the release of dopamine (neurotransmitter) to transmit the signal.[10,11] Research findings of Young and Saxe (2008) revealed that medial prefrontal cortex is involved in processing the belief valence.[12] Right temporoparietal junction and precuneus are involved in the processing of beliefs to moral judgment. True beliefs are processed through right temporoparietal junction.[13,14] Saxe (2006) explained that beliefs judging starts at the age of five years citing example of judging of belief questions on short stories by the children.[15] Belief attribution involved activating regions of medial prefrontal cortex, superior temporal gyri and hippocampal regions. Studies by Krummenacher et al, have shown that dopamine levels are associated with paranormal thoughts suggesting the role of dopamine in belief development in the brain.[16] Flannelly et al, illustrated on how primitive brain mechanisms that evolved to assess environmental threats in related psychiatric disorders.[17] Also were highlighted the issues such as the way beliefs can affect psychiatric symptoms through these brain systems. The theories discussed widely are related to (a) link psychiatric disorders to threat assessment and (b) explain how the normal functioning of threat assessment systems can become pathological. It is proposed that three brain structures are implicated in brain disorders in response to threat assessment and self-defense: the regions are the prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia and parts of limbic system. The functionality of these regions has great potential to understand mechanism of belief formation and its relevance in neurological functions/dysfunctions. Now it is clear that biology and physiology of belief is an open area for research both at basic and clinical level. The future directions are to develop validated experimental or sound theoretical interpretation to make ‘BELIEF’ as a potential clinical management tool.

Perceptual shifts are the prerequisites for changing the belief and hence changing the biochemistry of our body favorably. Our innate desire and willingness to learn and grow lead to newer perceptions. When we consciously allow newer perceptions to enter the brain by seeking new experiences, learning new skills and changed perspectives, our body can respond in newer ways –this is the true secret of youth. Beliefs (internal representations/interpretations) thus hold the magic wand of remarkable transformations in our biochemical profile. If you are chasing joy and peace all the time everywhere but exclaim exhausted, ‘Oh, it's to be found nowhere!’, why not change your interpretation of NOWHERE to ‘NOW HERE’; just by introducing a gap, you change your awareness – that changes your belief and that changes your biochemistry in an instant!

Everything exists as a ‘Matrix of pure possibilities’ akin to ‘formless’ molten wax or moldable soft clay. We shape them into anything we desire by choosing to do so, prompted, dictated (consciously or unconsciously) by our beliefs. The awareness that we are part of these ever-changing fields of energy that constantly interact with one another is what gives us the key hitherto elusive, to unlock the immense power within us. And it is our awareness of this awesome truth that changes everything. Then we transform ourselves from passive onlookers to powerful creators. Our beliefs provide the script to write or re-write the code of our reality.

Thoughts and beliefs are an integral part of the brain's operations. Neurotransmitters could be termed the ‘words’ brain uses to communicate with exchange of information occurring constantly, mediated by these molecular messengers. Unraveling the mystery of this molecular music induced by the magic of beliefs, dramatically influencing the biochemistry of brain could be an exciting adventure and a worth pursuing cerebral challenge.

REFERENCES

1. Candace Pert. Molecules of emotion: Why you feel the way you feel. New York, USA: Scribner Publications; 2003. ISBN-10: 0684846349.
2. Ornstein R, Sobel D. The healing brain: Breakthrough discoveries about how the brain keeps us healthy. USA: Malor Books; 1999. ISBN-10: 1883536170.
3. Robbins A. Unlimited power: The new science of personal excellence. UK: Simon and Schuster; 1986. ISBN 0-7434-0939-6.
4. Braden G. The spontaneous healing of belief. Hay House Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd; 2008. ISBN 978-81-89988-39-5.
5. Chopra D. Ageless body, timeless mind: The quantum alternative to growing old. Hormony Publishers; 1994. ISBN -10: 0517882124.
6. Lipton B. The biology of belief: Unleashing the power of consciousness, matter and miracles. Mountain of Love Publishers; 2005. ISBN 978-0975991473.
7. Bogousslavsky J, Inglin M. Beliefs and the brain. Eur Neurol. 2007;58:129–32. [PubMed: 17622716]
8. Gundersen L. Faith and healing. Ann Intern Med. 2000;132:169–72. [PubMed: 10644287]
9. Mueller PS, Plevak DJ, Rummans TA. Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: Implications for clinical practice. Mayo Clin Proc. 2001;76:1225–35. [PubMed: 11761504]
10. Patel AD, Peretz I, Tramo M, Labreque R. Processing prosodic and musical patterns: A neuropsychological investigation. Brain Lang. 1998;61:123–44. [PubMed: 9448936]
11. Tramo MJ. Biology and music. Music of the hemispheres. Science. 2001;291:54–6. [PubMed: 11192009]
12. Young L, Saxe R. The neural basis of belief encoding and integration in moral judgment. Neuroimage. 2008;40:1912–20. [PubMed: 18342544]
13. Aichhorn M, Perner J, Weiss B, Kronbichler M, Staffen W, Ladurner G. Temporo-parietal junction activity in theory-of-mind tasks: Falseness, beliefs, or attention. J Cogn Neurosci. 2009;21:1179–92. [PubMed: 18702587]
14. Abraham A, Rakoczy H, Werning M, von Cramon DY, Schubotz RI. Matching mind to world and vice versa: Functional dissociations between belief and desire mental state processing. Soc Neurosci. 2009;1:18. [PubMed: 19670085]
15. Saxe R. Why and how to study Theory of Mind with fMRI. Brain Res. 2006;1079:57–65. [PubMed: 16480695]
16. Krummenacher P, Mohr C, Haker H, Brugger P. Dopamine, paranormal belief, and the detection of meaningful stimuli. J Cogn Neurosci. 2009 Jun 30; [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed: 19642883]
17. Flannelly KJ, Koenig HG, Galek K, Ellison CG. Beliefs, mental health, and evolutionary threat assessment systems in the brain. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2007;195:996–1003. [PubMed: 18091193]

Articles from Indian Journal of Psychiatry are provided here courtesy of Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications

HRPacing ...

Description

Heart Rate Pacing is a technique used to stay within ones energy reserves. The anaerobic threshold (AT) is the heart rate at which aerobic energy surges. The threshold is often around about 60% of a ones maximum heart rate, though each person is different and an individual's threshold may vary from day to day or within a day.

(Note: Maximum heart rate is 220 minus ones age. For a 50 year old, 60% of maximum heart rate is (220 - 50) x 0.6 = 102 bpm.)

Features:

* Changes colour to indicate:

- Resting - (REST) Lavender

- Recovery (RECOVER) - Green (RHR + 10%)

- Exertion (EXERT) - Orange (RHR + 20%)

- Anaerobic Threshold (AT) - Red ((220-50)x0.6)

* Set an alert based on:

- reaching Anaerobic Threshold Zone, or

- custom set Maximum Heart Rate.

* Set the Anaerobic Threshold Tolerance from 0.6 (default) to 0.5 if desired.

* Set a custom interval between alerts (15 secs default).

* Displays 12/24 hour clock based on user settings in Fitbit profile.

ME Awareness Fundraising : Ten Books In Ten Months

 

I am fundraising for The ME Trust UK as part of ME Awareness 2021

I will be fundraising for ten months starting in May 2021 through to end of February 2022.

Please take the time to read what it is about and donate if you can.

I am going to read 10 books in 10 months and document them on my ‘ten books in ten months ...’ page.

Please click the link above or below to donate and help me raise as much money as we can
for The ME Trust UK

I have been sick since 1984. It took till 2001 for doctors to diagnose me with ME.
Initially, I was mildly sick then moderately but in recent years I’ve progressed to being severely affected.
I am housebound and often bedbound for months on end.

I really want to raise awareness and to raise money to help research #endME.

I am planning on reading ten books in ten months starting 12th May, which is international ME Awareness Day.
At one time in my life I could have read ten books in ten days. But this challenge will be hard for me to do.

So please please if you can support me and help raise money for the ME Trust UK

YOU CAN DONATE BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW

ME Awareness Fundraising : Ten Books In Ten Months

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you can pay for an initial assessment by donating £141

you can pay for a medical review by donating £121

Thank you very much !

help me fund my preparation for rehabilitation treatments ...

... help me fund my ME treatment ...

you can choose to donate as much or as little by sliding the slider along

you can pay for the introductory workshop by donating £65

you can pay for an individual care plan by donating £71

Thank you very much !

help me fund my rehabilitation treatments ...

... help me fund my ME treatment ...

you can choose to donate as much or as little by sliding the slider along

you can pay for a monthly session by donating £71

Thank you very much !

help me fund my follow up treatments ...

... help me fund my ME treatment ...

you can choose to donate as much or as little by sliding the slider along

you can pay for an individual progression plan by donating £71

you can pay for a medical follow up by donating £121

Thank you very much !

ME Awareness Fundraising : Ten Books In Ten Months

 

I am fundraising for The ME Trust UK as part of ME Awareness 2021

I will be fundraising for ten months starting in May 2021 through to end of February 2022.

You will see this pop once in each week that you visit my site during this ten month period.

Please take the time to read what it is about and donate if you can.

I am going to read 10 books in 10 months and document them on my ‘ten books in ten months ...’ page.

Please click the link above or below to donate and help me raise as much money as we can
for The ME Trust UK

I have been sick since 1984. It took till 2001 for doctors to diagnose me with ME.
Initially, I was mildly sick then moderately but in recent years I’ve progressed to being severely affected.
I am housebound and often bedbound for months on end.

I really want to raise awareness and to raise money to help research #endME.

I am planning on reading ten books in ten months starting 12th May, which is international ME Awareness Day.
At one time in my life I could have read ten books in ten days. But this challenge will be hard for me to do.

So please please if you can support me and help raise money for the ME Trust UK.

YOU CAN DONATE BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW

ME Awareness Fundraising : Ten Books In Ten Months

Logo of ijpsych

2009 Oct-Dec; 51(4): 239–241.
doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.58285: 10.4103/0019-5545.58285
PMCID: PMC2802367
PMID: 20048445

The biochemistry of belief

Address for correspondence: Dr. TS Sathyanarayana Rao, Department of Psychiatry, JSS University, JSS Medical College Hospital, M.G. Road, Mysore - 570 004, India. E-mail: moc.oohay@91oarsst
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

“Man is what he believes”

Anton Chekhov

Beliefs are basically the guiding principles in life that provide direction and meaning in life. Beliefs are the preset, organized filters to our perceptions of the world (external and internal). Beliefs are like ‘Internal commands’ to the brain as to how to represent what is happening, when we congruently believe something to be true. In the absence of beliefs or inability to tap into them, people feel disempowered.

Beliefs originate from what we hear - and keep on hearing from others, ever since we were children (and even before that!). The sources of beliefs include environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality.

Beliefs are not just cold mental premises, but are ‘hot stuff’ intertwined with emotions (conscious or unconscious). Perhaps, that is why we feel threatened or react with sometimes uncalled for aggression, when we believe our beliefs are being challenged! Research findings have repeatedly pointed out that the emotional brain is no longer confined to the classical locales of the hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus.[1] The sensory inputs we receive from the environment undergo a filtering process as they travel across one or more synapses, ultimately reaching the area of higher processing, like the frontal lobes. There, the sensory information enters our conscious awareness. What portion of this sensory information enters is determined by our beliefs. Fortunately for us, receptors on the cell membranes are flexible, which can alter in sensitivity and conformation. In other words, even when we feel stuck ‘emotionally’, there is always a biochemical potential for change and possible growth. When we choose to change our thoughts (bursts of neurochemicals!), we become open and receptive to other pieces of sensory information hitherto blocked by our beliefs! When we change our thinking, we change our beliefs. When we change our beliefs, we change our behavior.

A mention of the ‘Placebo’ is most appropriate at this juncture. Medical history is replete with numerous reported cases where placebos were found to have a profound effect on a variety of disorders. One such astounding case was that of a woman suffering from severe nausea and vomiting. Objective measurements of her gastric contractions indicated a disrupted pattern matching the condition she complained of. Then a ‘new, magical, extremely potent’ drug was offered to her, which would, the doctors proclaimed, undoubtedly cure her nausea. Within a few minutes, her nausea vanished! The very same gastric tests now revealed normal pattern, when, in actuality, she had been given syrup of ipecac, a substance usually used to induce nausea! When the syrup was presented to her, paired with the strong suggestion of relief of nausea, by an authority figure, it acted as a (command) message to the brain that triggered a cascade of self-regulatory biochemical responses within the body.[2] This instance dramatically demonstrates that the influence of placebo could be more potent than expected drug effect.

An important observation was that, part of the placebo response seemed to involve the meaning of the disorder or the illness to the individual. In other words, the person's belief or how she/he interprets (inter-presents or internally represents) directly governs the biological response or behavior. Another remarkable study involved a schizophrenic. This woman was observed to have split personality. Under normal conditions, her blood glucose levels were normal. However, the moment she believed she was diabetic, her entire physiology changed to become that of a diabetic, including elevated blood glucose levels.[3]

Suggestions or symbolic messages shape beliefs that in turn affect our physical well being. Several cases of ‘Disappearance of warts’ have been reported by Ornstein and Sobel wherein they ponder on how the brain translates the suggestions (sometimes using hypnosis) into systematic biochemical battle strategies such as chemical messengers sent to enlist the aid of immune cells in an assault on the microbe-induced miniature tumor or probably small arteries are selectively constricted, cutting off the vital nutrient supply to warts but not touching the neighboring healthy cells.[2]

Findings of carefully designed research indicate that our interpretation of what we are seeing (experiencing) can literally alter our physiology. In fact, all symptoms of medicine work through our beliefs. By subtly transforming the unknown (disease/disorder) into something known, named, tamed and explained, alarm reactions in the brain can be calmed down. All therapies have a hidden, symbolic value and influence on the psyche, besides the direct specific effect they may have on the body.

Just as amazingly life-affirming placebos are, the reverse, “Nocebo' has been observed to be playing its part too. It is associated with negative, life-threatening or disempowering beliefs. Arthur Barsky, a psychiatrist states that it is the patient's expectations – beliefs whether a drug or procedure works or will have side effects – that plays a crucial role in the outcome.[4]

The biochemistry of our body stems from our awareness.[5] Belief-reinforced awareness becomes our biochemistry. Each and every tiny cell in our body is perfectly and absolutely aware of our thoughts, feelings and of course, our beliefs. There is a beautiful saying ‘Nobody grows old. When people stop growing, they become old’. If you believe you are fragile, the biochemistry of your body unquestionably obeys and manifests it. If you believe you are tough (irrespective of your weight and bone density!), your body undeniably mirrors it. When you believe you are depressed (more precisely, when you become consciously aware of your ‘Being depressed’), you stamp the raw data received through your sense organs, with a judgment – that is your personal view – and physically become the ‘interpretation’ as you internalize it. A classic example is ‘Psychosocial dwarfism’, wherein children who feel and believethat they are unloved, translate the perceived lack of love into depleted levels of growth hormone, in contrast to the strongly held view that growth hormone is released according to a preprogrammed schedule coded into the individual's genes!

Providing scientific evidence to support a holistic approach to well being and healthcare, Bruce Lipton sheds light on mechanism underlying healing at cellular level. He emphasizes that ‘love’ is the most healing emotion and ‘placebo’ effect accounts for a substantial percentage of any drug's action, underscoring the significance of beliefs in health and sickness. According to him, as adults, we still believe in and act our lives out based on information we absorbed as children (pathetic indeed!). And the good news is, we can do something about the ‘tape’ our subconscious mind is playing (ol' silly beliefs) and change them NOW.[6] Further recent literature evidences provided knowledge based on scientific principles of biology of belief. There are limited studies on clinics of traditional beliefs and if we get more scientific data, we can use these traditional systems in clinical mental health management. Human belief system is formed by all the experiences learned and experimented filtered through personality.[7] The senses to capture inner and outer perceptions have higher brain potentials. Some questions that arise in this context are, does the integration and acceptance of these perceptions result in the establishment of beliefs? Does the establishment of these beliefs depend on proof demonstrations? The proofs might be the perceptions, which we can directly see or having scientific proof or custom or faith.[8,9] Beliefs are developed as stimuli received as trusted information and stored in the memory. These perceptions are generalized and established into belief. These beliefs are involved in the moral judgment of the person. Beliefs help in decision-making. Bogousslavsky and Inglin explained that, how some physicians were more successful by taking an account of patient beliefs. Beliefs influence factors involved in the development of psychopathology. They also influence the cognitive and emotional assessment, addictiveness, responses to false positives and persistent normal defensive reactions. Total brain function is required in stabilizing the belief and in responding to environmental system. Some of the brain regions and the neural circuits are very important in establishing beliefs and executing emotions. Frontal lobes play a major role in beliefs. Mental representations of the world are integrated with sub-cortical information by prefrontal cortex. Amygdala and Hippocampus are involved in the process of thinking and thus help in execution of beliefs. NMDA receptor is involved in thinking and in the development of beliefs. These beliefs are subjected to challenge. A belief that is subjected to more challenges becomes stronger. When a new stimulus comes, it creates distress in the brain with already existing patterns. The distress results in the release of dopamine (neurotransmitter) to transmit the signal.[10,11] Research findings of Young and Saxe (2008) revealed that medial prefrontal cortex is involved in processing the belief valence.[12] Right temporoparietal junction and precuneus are involved in the processing of beliefs to moral judgment. True beliefs are processed through right temporoparietal junction.[13,14] Saxe (2006) explained that beliefs judging starts at the age of five years citing example of judging of belief questions on short stories by the children.[15] Belief attribution involved activating regions of medial prefrontal cortex, superior temporal gyri and hippocampal regions. Studies by Krummenacher et al, have shown that dopamine levels are associated with paranormal thoughts suggesting the role of dopamine in belief development in the brain.[16] Flannelly et al, illustrated on how primitive brain mechanisms that evolved to assess environmental threats in related psychiatric disorders.[17] Also were highlighted the issues such as the way beliefs can affect psychiatric symptoms through these brain systems. The theories discussed widely are related to (a) link psychiatric disorders to threat assessment and (b) explain how the normal functioning of threat assessment systems can become pathological. It is proposed that three brain structures are implicated in brain disorders in response to threat assessment and self-defense: the regions are the prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia and parts of limbic system. The functionality of these regions has great potential to understand mechanism of belief formation and its relevance in neurological functions/dysfunctions. Now it is clear that biology and physiology of belief is an open area for research both at basic and clinical level. The future directions are to develop validated experimental or sound theoretical interpretation to make ‘BELIEF’ as a potential clinical management tool.

Perceptual shifts are the prerequisites for changing the belief and hence changing the biochemistry of our body favorably. Our innate desire and willingness to learn and grow lead to newer perceptions. When we consciously allow newer perceptions to enter the brain by seeking new experiences, learning new skills and changed perspectives, our body can respond in newer ways –this is the true secret of youth. Beliefs (internal representations/interpretations) thus hold the magic wand of remarkable transformations in our biochemical profile. If you are chasing joy and peace all the time everywhere but exclaim exhausted, ‘Oh, it's to be found nowhere!’, why not change your interpretation of NOWHERE to ‘NOW HERE’; just by introducing a gap, you change your awareness – that changes your belief and that changes your biochemistry in an instant!

Everything exists as a ‘Matrix of pure possibilities’ akin to ‘formless’ molten wax or moldable soft clay. We shape them into anything we desire by choosing to do so, prompted, dictated (consciously or unconsciously) by our beliefs. The awareness that we are part of these ever-changing fields of energy that constantly interact with one another is what gives us the key hitherto elusive, to unlock the immense power within us. And it is our awareness of this awesome truth that changes everything. Then we transform ourselves from passive onlookers to powerful creators. Our beliefs provide the script to write or re-write the code of our reality.

Thoughts and beliefs are an integral part of the brain's operations. Neurotransmitters could be termed the ‘words’ brain uses to communicate with exchange of information occurring constantly, mediated by these molecular messengers. Unraveling the mystery of this molecular music induced by the magic of beliefs, dramatically influencing the biochemistry of brain could be an exciting adventure and a worth pursuing cerebral challenge.

REFERENCES

1. Candace Pert. Molecules of emotion: Why you feel the way you feel. New York, USA: Scribner Publications; 2003. ISBN-10: 0684846349.
2. Ornstein R, Sobel D. The healing brain: Breakthrough discoveries about how the brain keeps us healthy. USA: Malor Books; 1999. ISBN-10: 1883536170.
3. Robbins A. Unlimited power: The new science of personal excellence. UK: Simon and Schuster; 1986. ISBN 0-7434-0939-6.
4. Braden G. The spontaneous healing of belief. Hay House Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd; 2008. ISBN 978-81-89988-39-5.
5. Chopra D. Ageless body, timeless mind: The quantum alternative to growing old. Hormony Publishers; 1994. ISBN -10: 0517882124.
6. Lipton B. The biology of belief: Unleashing the power of consciousness, matter and miracles. Mountain of Love Publishers; 2005. ISBN 978-0975991473.
7. Bogousslavsky J, Inglin M. Beliefs and the brain. Eur Neurol. 2007;58:129–32. [PubMed: 17622716]
8. Gundersen L. Faith and healing. Ann Intern Med. 2000;132:169–72. [PubMed: 10644287]
9. Mueller PS, Plevak DJ, Rummans TA. Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: Implications for clinical practice. Mayo Clin Proc. 2001;76:1225–35. [PubMed: 11761504]
10. Patel AD, Peretz I, Tramo M, Labreque R. Processing prosodic and musical patterns: A neuropsychological investigation. Brain Lang. 1998;61:123–44. [PubMed: 9448936]
11. Tramo MJ. Biology and music. Music of the hemispheres. Science. 2001;291:54–6. [PubMed: 11192009]
12. Young L, Saxe R. The neural basis of belief encoding and integration in moral judgment. Neuroimage. 2008;40:1912–20. [PubMed: 18342544]
13. Aichhorn M, Perner J, Weiss B, Kronbichler M, Staffen W, Ladurner G. Temporo-parietal junction activity in theory-of-mind tasks: Falseness, beliefs, or attention. J Cogn Neurosci. 2009;21:1179–92. [PubMed: 18702587]
14. Abraham A, Rakoczy H, Werning M, von Cramon DY, Schubotz RI. Matching mind to world and vice versa: Functional dissociations between belief and desire mental state processing. Soc Neurosci. 2009;1:18. [PubMed: 19670085]
15. Saxe R. Why and how to study Theory of Mind with fMRI. Brain Res. 2006;1079:57–65. [PubMed: 16480695]
16. Krummenacher P, Mohr C, Haker H, Brugger P. Dopamine, paranormal belief, and the detection of meaningful stimuli. J Cogn Neurosci. 2009 Jun 30; [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed: 19642883]
17. Flannelly KJ, Koenig HG, Galek K, Ellison CG. Beliefs, mental health, and evolutionary threat assessment systems in the brain. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2007;195:996–1003. [PubMed: 18091193]

Articles from Indian Journal of Psychiatry are provided here courtesy of Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications
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