Joy, Pleasure and Spirituality
Louise Berkowicz, M.D.
Our thoughts and emotions affect how our bodies work and feel. Forgetting to "smell the roses" is common when a person has chronic pain. Finding joy, pleasure and connection to life helps us focus on the positive aspects of living.
As you work to build and keep a sense of wellbeing and connectedness, less energy and attention will be paid to your pain pathways and pain will often decrease notably. Certain practices and exercises help to increase awareness of the mind/body/spirit connection. Do these exercises often to help you train your brain.
Steps to Get There
- Deep Breathing: Breath in slowly counting to five and fill your lungs so that your stomach expands but your shoulders do not lift. Expanding your lungs fully can trigger a relaxation response. Repeat by breathing out for a count of five and then breathing in to five. Repeat up to ten times
- Meditate: Meditation can mean many different things. Some people use it as a time to think. Others meditate while walking or running. Find techniques that you enjoy. Meditate twice a day
- Eat Mindfully: Occasionally eat in silence, chew each bite 20 times and enjoy the taste. This enhances appreciation of food.
- Laugh Often: Laughing has many great health effects. It boosts your body’s ability to fight germs, increases energy relieves aches and pains, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood.
- Be Gentle and Kind to Yourself: Say positive words to yourself such as “I am wonderful, I honor and respect myself, I love myself.” Do this daily.
- Express Yourself: Speak from an open heart and be true to yourself and others.
- Exercise: Choose an exercise you enjoy and do it daily.
- Learn: Look at the lessons you are learning, especially in times of difficulty and challenge.
- Be Mindful: Take time to be aware of the beauty around you, from nature to the human touch.
- Be Grateful: When you wake up, think of one thing for which you are grateful.
- Notice Stress: Become aware of how your body reacts to stress. Relax (see #1, #2 and #4) to help deal with the stress.
• The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D.
• The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
• Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss, Ph.D.
• A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
• Vibrational Medicine by Richard Gerber, M.D.
• Laughter Yoga International, www.laughteryoga.org
• Help Guide, www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm
• University of Maryland Medical Center: Laughter is the “Best Medicine” for Your Heart, www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm
• ISSEEM (International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine), www.issseem.org
• IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences), www.noetic.org
• William A. Tiller Foundation, www.tiller.org
• Mind Body Medicine Center, www.cmbm.org
• Wisdom at Work: Joel and Michelle Levey, www.wisdomatwork.com