Originally published March 12, 2012.
Mindbody practices have so many benefits, you’d have to order online from outside the US to be able to afford them- Read the research!
With so much talk about the expense of healthcare, I wanted to put out a positive message about inexpensive mindbody self-care practices. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. Self-care is an important component of postpartum depression treatment. Low cost mindbody therapies are helpful on many levels. Research strongly indicates complementary therapies improve health on multiple levels and in concrete ways and are low cost.
For four rewarding years, I ran the MindBody Program at the Cancer Center at a hospital. The program provided relief for people with the burden of chronic illness on emotional and physical levels. Research indicates persons with chronic illness, co-morbidity, aging-related illness and persons with mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, are among the most likely to use complementary therapies (Cheung, Wyman, and Halcon, 2007), so it was a good fit. Research such as that conducted by Ben-Ayre, Frankel, Klein, Scharf (2008) indicates patients expect their physicians to refer to appropriate complementary care clinics as needed. The MindBody Program was a forerunner of the integrative medicine trend.
Gregg D. Jacobs, Ph.D. (2001), reviewed several hundred studies and concluded the relaxation response and mindbody interventions are clinically effective in the treatment of many health problem exacerbated by stress. Dr. Jacobs (2001) found the clinical research concluded complementary care therapies lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce anxiety and depression, boost the immune system, are useful in fall prevention, and have virtually no side effects. Of course, these therapies are not intended to replace regular care by a medical doctor, but are to be used as preventative and adjunctive care.
It took a few months for the community members to learn about and then use the services, but once the word was out, the programs filled. There would easily be 30 people at the Monthly Community Reiki Share. The Singing Bowls program brought in 60 people. Imagine sixty people at a community event like singing bowls in a large auditorium. World Qi Gong Day event brought in 100 people to do qi gong outdoors, creating and riding the wave of healing qi going around the world.
The Reiki program was a volunteer effort, so it was totally free. I mean, realistically, my budget wouldn’t even cover what ibuprofen costs the hospital for twenty people. (So what’s with the cost of ibuprofen on hospital premises, anyway? Oh…that’s another blog post.)
Back to mindbody therapies….Numerous research studies have shown that complementary care therapies such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi, guided imagery, meditation, and energy therapies improve the quality of life of persons with health challenges. A small sampling of the studies follows. There are many more.
Diane Reibel and her associates (2001) in a study of a heterogeneous patient population practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), found improvement on all indices, including vitality and pain reduction. Ramita Bonadonna (2003) found the practice of MBSR reframes discomfort and generalized malaise. Nicola MacKay and her colleagues (2004) found that, after a Reiki treatment, there is a significant decrease in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure in their research subjects. Larry Scherwitz and his colleagues (2005) found that Interactive Guided Imagery® was helpful in a heterogenous patient population in managing anxiety and depression.
In an interesting analysis of pain remediation, Catherine Kerr and her colleagues (2007) describe how chronic pain causes alterations in the target sensory areas of the brain. Kerr proposes that attentive relaxation during mindfulness meditation or Reiki, produces beneficial alterations in the sensory areas of the brain, helping to ease and manage the chronically stressed cortical map.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Lee Lipton (2008), in a systematic review of the extant research on yoga, found multiple positive benefits to patients with health challenges as diverse as cardiovascular illness, cancer, ADHD, anxiety, and chronic pain. Steven Wolf and his colleagues (1996), in a study of 200 seniors sponsored by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) found that fifteen (15) weeks of Tai Chi reduced their risk of falling by 48%. Later studies have validated the results about Tai Chi multiple times, including the recent study by Taylor- Piliae and her colleagues in 2006.
Anyway, the point of this is, is self-care is important, and there are studies that indicate that if you make small changes to your life, it can go a long way, on different levels.
The over-use and over-prescribing of pain medication could be mitigated if there were more support from the medical community for these research based mindbody practices. The hospital where I worked decided to cut the very low cost MindBody program. But you don’t have to cut common sense care out of your life.
#OccupyHealthCare – you own healthcare and notice the many positive steps you can take your well-being into your own hands.
What are some of the ways you brought healing into your life?