Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on paying purposeful attention to things in a non-judgemental manner.
We often tend to miss out on the sensory perception of things in the daily vicissitudes of life. Mindfulness could help us slow down, appreciate the sensory joys of daily objects, and accept ourselves.
How can mindfulness help me cope with the symptoms of endometriosis?
Endometriosis often causes chronic pelvic pain, weakness, and fatigue as well as debilitating and excruciating pain both during menstrual periods and outside the period. The condition can also lead to psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mind-body interventions such as mindfulness, yoga, and meditation may help you cope with the symptoms of endometriosis.
Research has shown that meditative techniques such as mindfulness can modulate pain through several mechanisms. A Danish study that recruited 10 women with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain has shown that a psychological intervention based on mindfulness techniques can have lasting effects on patients’ pain level, overall well-being, and ability to function in daily life.
Research has shown that patients using positive coping strategies experience less stress and depression. Moreover, such methods could help improve clinical treatment outcomes.
A study that reviewed the literature also concluded that using psychological and mind-body interventions such as mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and yoga can reduce endometriosis-associated pain and stress.
How can I practice mindfulness?
There are several ways in which you can practice mindfulness. These include both simple and structured exercises.
Simple exercises involve paying attention to your environment, accepting yourself, having a positive outlook, and focusing on your breath.
Structured exercises include body scan meditation where you focus on each part of your body from head to toe, sitting meditation, where you sit comfortably and breathe through your nose focusing on your breath moving in and out of your body, and walking meditation where you focus on the experience of walking while being aware of subtle movements and sensations.
The Institute for Mindfulness-Based approaches offers an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program that is widely used in many healthcare settings. The program can reduce symptoms of pain, depression, inflammation, and cellular aging.
Are there any drawbacks?
Some scientists have concerns about the current scientific approach used to evaluate the benefits of mindfulness. For instance, the word “mindfulness” has no universal definition and presents different connotations to different people. In addition, fewer than 25% of the meditation trials have included any form of adverse effects monitoring. Moreover, there are increasing concerns that new mindfulness-based interventions are being developed without fully understanding those already in vogue.
So, while these points do raise questions on the present applicability of mindfulness in a clinical setting, empirical evaluations of women with debilitating endometriosis pain and practicing mindfulness do point to its benefits in dealing with pain, stress, anxiety, and depression.