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Living In The Present: Mindfulness for Autoimmune Disease

Research shows that practising mindfulness changes the way the brain is wired, how it functions, and even changes the structure of the brain in ways that enhance well-being, clarity and multiple intelligences.

We are discovering that the human brain is capable of profound plasticity, meaning that the brain changes in relation to experiences. Even our chromosomes are changing in relationship to our experiences - this is called epigenetics.

The discoveries of brain plasticity and epigentics mean we have a lot more freedom to attain a state of well-being and happiness than we ever thought. Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered, which involves being in the present moment, open hearted and kind towards yourself.

How do we bring mindfulness into our lives if we are very busy?

We do it in the ways that we can, in a way that feels right for us. There is no one right way to do this.

Here are ways to cultivate awareness that can be helpful:

  • The body - remembering to feel our lives unfolding in our body, as opposed to only in our head.

  • Watching the breath in the body, walking, eating... it’s not about the breath exactly just about being aware of how special it is to be breathing; to feel the energy of the breath, and feel in this moment "This is my life". It’s not waiting for the weekend to have my life or when I finish a big project. Every moment is my life.

  • Then in stressful situations, you can move and flow with the actuality of it, and watch your own reactivity to it, so you’re not running away or pushing through, but allowing things to unfold as they do.

  • Mindfulness is not a state of doing, but rather being.

The present is a concept

We're never not present. The practice is more about noticing. We can notice what takes you away from being present:


--> Why don’t we emphasise "be here now"?

--> Why do we emphasise what takes you away from being here now?

If we try to wilfully bring ourselves into the present moment, we’ve not dealt with all the impulses or mechanisms that take us away, they still exist.

You have to look at that mechanism of BELIEVED THOUGHT.

Thoughts arrive and we believe them. Because we believe them we hook into them, and then we are taken off and lost in them and their promise. Each thought is like a nut in a shell; at the centre of the shell is a kernel - a thought or a story that tantalises us.

They pull us away into this world of our creation. Depending on the nature of the story it can lead to or produce emotions and feelings - counterparts that go with the story, drive the story on and make it feel real in this moment.

So what we're doing with our practice is noticing our tendency to stick to thoughts. The reasons we stick to thoughts:

  • Is that we have a lot of thoughts. Our heads are busy. We have too many things on our to do list and many plates spinning, which can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress.

  • Out of these thoughts we create or gain an identity. We are at the centre of all our stories, we are the stars of our own movies many times a day.

  • It is good to know the content of all stories and label them "thinking" then come back to what's real, because all those stories are unreal. What’s real is the body and senses, but we get drawn into the promise of the false world of thoughts and stories.

So we recognise the content - we recognise we’ve been lost in blaming, fantasies, etc, but also important is that we become aware of the nature of thoughts.

The nature of thoughts is that they are empty, they arise and then they're gone, they're fleeting. We don’t allow them to pass through the sky of our minds like clouds, we attach to them and create stories which give rise to feelings.

Mobile meditation do this anywhere:

A) Awareness - of thoughts, feelings, sensations.

B) Breath - take attention to breath.

C) Connect - with the whole body and the senses.

More blogs on Mindfulness:

Next Steps

Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

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