Mindfulness and MS – Talk by Dr Agne Straukiene | MS Society

Mindfulness and MS – Talk by Dr Agne Straukiene | MS Society


I’m so pleased to see you all. I recognised
the faces of my patients. I hope that you all enjoying this day today and getting
a lot of knowledge and experience about MS and you know what it is like to live
with it. As the consultants and physicians we just we can listen to you but not necessarily we completely 100%
understand what is like life living with MS. So today I’m going to talk about
mindfulness and before starting I would like to know is anybody in the audience
who actually practices its mindfulness on the daily basis? Just a few. I hope
that the numbers will increase. So quite often our life looks like the second
picture. Although we plan to go from A to B but we have ups and downs, sometimes it takes longer than we planned. Our mind is amazingly creative. It allows us to plan,
communicate and this evolved over the last hundred of
thousands of years since homo sapiens first appeared on the planet. It’s not
about that our mind evolved to make us feel better or feel good, but it’s more
to avoid the danger in this life. Our mind is not about reminding us and
informing us about the woolly mammoth that can attack us but it’s all about
our worries that we we have nowadays is getting your speeding tickets, getting
chronic disease, having a poor relationship with other people can
negatively affect us. And our mind is restless and there is a huge transition
from one generation to another, passing this worry from child, a parent to the child and from child to the other sibling, brothers and sisters.
And we are in the constant lookout, assessing and judging things. What is
good, what is bad, what is harmful, what is safe. And we spend a lot of time
worrying. It affects each of us, not just MS patients, but equally the physicians.
So what is mindfulness? It’s a relatively an old technique. It’s been
around since 1979. It’s been established by Dr Kabat-Zinn and the description
what is mindfulness, is the experience an awareness being, in the moment, without judging. Accepting anything that is given to you. A little bit knowledge about how our
brain functions. So as you know, we have two hemispheres, its left and right. Our
left brain is more to do with logic, language, science, math, number skills,
analytic thinking and it has a huge effect on our right side of the body.
Where the right brain has got more to do with the imagination, creativity,
intuition, art awareness and it has a huge control of our left side body. Our
negative and positive feelings are different, the way they look in our brain
structure. And when we are more optimistic, great creative, we have more joy in our lives, we are more alert. Our left prefrontal cortex are more
active in contrast when we are distressed and worried and anxious. So
the right hemisphere of the right frontal lobe is dominating so
but day-by-day basis when we look at your brain scan so it’s on the left side
it’s always gray and white in color so it’s equally like looking at or key at
day time and when we have a research going on
beside all there are clinical work there is there are some higher resolution MRI
scans and and and three you can extract the image like a 3d image with all the
neural sort of connections and pathways and it’s a comparison would be looking
at the talk here at nighttime when we have lights and a lot of trafficking is
going on you can see it factual sort of movement that this is just an example
one of the studies there was a laboratory based study with when one of
the monks Tibetan monks was assessed and compared with 175 control group subjects
and patient had a functional MRI scan whilst he was meditating and it was
found that the left side of the prefrontal cortex is very much active
and the activity increased each time he continues meditating so then the Western
talks that maybe this monk just born to be happy or after spending thousands of
hours meditating whether that changed is the brain structure however this is a
golden standard randomized controlled clinical trial where they’re biking
biotechnology and employs 41 of them were tested and there was a control
group and again it was found that there’s a significant increase in
left-sided of the prefrontal cortex activation four months later after they
are in practicing meditation so overall we all in this life have this agenda to
be happy but what is happiness and I guess for each individual person the
happiness is is felt very differently some of people would seek to be more
rich some of them would seek to be to have more health some of them some
people would focus more on the mental quality of life and and and Happiness so
there are ayat e of things that affect us and I guess we’re always is whatever
fulfilled that’s the key of feeling happy what
determines the happiness interestingly enough the genetic cause
of happiness plays a huge role is foot 50%
what we inherit from our families the way what is the level of happiness we
have and then 40% remains of what other activities we do to help us to feel
happier and there are some life circumstances some injuries accidents
traumas that only happens around 10% so I would like to introduce the set point
theory that inheritance that’s the way we feel and the well-being is determined
by our family and it continues throughout our life and I’ll give you an
example on this graph so if their tennis stage we won their lottery or we became
paralyzed so the graph changes at the time but after number of years we go
back to our set points level of the happiness that we have so none of
exterior factors actually has any influence the way we feel and what sort
of level of happiness we have only the interior landscape the way we feel
inside and and how how the mindfulness could potentially help us to train our
minds it affects the way how we feel about our bodies so that there is
another study to suggest that the more we practice mindfulness the more we are
resilient to any negative stimulus and this is the study that the monk was
putting in MRI scan and and he was having his mindfulness session and there
was a scream in this in a scanner that a lot of people distracted but if the more
you do the mindfulness it was less reactivity to that stimulus so what is
mindfulness and ms how often people decide to go down this route and and
start practicing and what are their available health there is a specific
research in ms it was an online meditation training program and it was
found that mindfulness changes the quality of life in ms reduces and
anxiety reduces depression and also improves the sleeping quality
and ruiji and and reduces the fatigue so there’s very a very busy slide but but
what what then scientists from Netherlands they explored and they
proposed this hypothesis about the neurobiology that there are multiple
mechanisms as you heard from from Professor Gavin German only there are
low self inflammation cells effect increase within the process of
inflammation and there are some other sort of less visible structures that
they are also affected such as gray matter reduction of their of the cells
within the brain and what we know that mindfulness does decrease the fatigue
and also depression and improves the cognition by building up new network
with within the brain structures the the whole sort of process of the brain being
being able to produce new networking and connectivity and improve the signaling
is called as neuroplasticity and we know that the more person is mindful there is
an increase of gray matter density within the brain structure and also the
more you practice there is more cortical thickening and increase the size of the
cortex so what are the tips and how to become more mindful so living with MS
you have already a lot off to do so so first of all we have to know that ms is
not defining you as a person you are a person and you can’t control whatever is
happening around you although there are symptoms they may not be very pleasant
always ask for some health there are some things in life that you have to
accept and constantly adapt to the changes of your body and the sensations
and also think about a new body image I have a patient who has got arm weakness
and the way she approached her arm is is she talks with the hearts it says look
you have to cope with it you have to function
so is hair coping mechanism and I think it’s an image individual you have to
find your own way of how you cope and and mindfulness is one of their methods
so we all are as a bucket of feelings and emotions with and we have very less
control of them but we have a huge amount of control of our actions and
always be aware of your of your feelings and and sensations are you hungry stop
for a minute and think about are you angry are you tired
there is a the whole definition to describe that awareness of your thoughts
and thinking patterning it’s called metacognition always remember that
thoughts are not facts they like clouds they come and go they pass you quite
often you forget they’re the dreams then after the night sleep but it’s difficult
for to forget the thoughts that keep coming and keep annoying and keep
destroying and keep keep you busy so there are some mindfulness exercises
around that some of you probably heard about and one of them is their body
scanning meditation so say it’s a type of the exercise that you take your time
you sit up you feel your body whether you’re a sitting a lying position you
can feel your limbs and spine and you bring your awareness to let’s say one of
the parts of your body and start breathing in and out and you you know
that during that process the thoughts will keep coming how many times we try
to avoid and sort of keep positive but all these negative thoughts it keeps
coming and coming so there is another exercise is there to breathe in and and
imagine that you’re breathing a flower and when you breathe out you breathe it
you blow rose leaf so there are loads of brain tricks to be present it’s very
important to have a proper relationship with your relatives who are also
struggling and when you are talking to them just be fully aware and thrill
alert and present but all the phone says I really
listened to wise beings said spend a bit of time to reflect and never react
respond only as you know there are colorful color coloring books that you
can use and again it’s a it’s part of the mindfulness that you are present
you’re you choosing some colors you’d bring your attention to the present
moment mindful eating how many times we rush in getting dinner lunch we without
even thinking which is in autopilot we take the cookie from the cupboard and
and that’s it and we eat without without actually asking to what do we need it
are we hungry so always notice your feelings and sensations and pause as
much as you can then you start eating notice the texture aroma flavor with its
sweet salty spicy there are those of things around of mindful movement so you
always remember that yes the riots decides that you could do but you really
really have to enjoy it otherwise there will not be a maintenance at all at some
stage you will just drop the session of exercise so you have to find the way
that you definitely like it and continue that always to educate and teach your
children to be more mindful so he thinks being mindful is just noticing sound
around you and we could do little exercise yeah if you if you’re willing
to do so can you listen and find some five sounds around you if we just keep
all silent and just listen to the sound and can you hear at least five sounds
maybe there is a fan in the background it’s not completely quiet it’s you can
you can hear also there are some methods focusing on your body sensation so
whilst you’re sitting can you feel your feet are they tight in your shoes are
they loose are they tingling having none whatever
sensation you have just accept it as as normal it’s you this is your body your
body is trying to communicate with you and also keep coming to your mind and
each time you get these thoughts they might be obsessive thoughts sometimes
just thank your brain say thank you for reminding me
thanks just be aware of that never judge just accept so this this is
the slide you’re already seen and I guess we’re safe here place to be is to
be mindful okay just wanted to give you an example that those are like dolphins
they jump they come and go and you just let it pass
it’s the the nature of human being there’s right an adult yeah that
dolphins and I’ll focuses that white side then it whales off over the other side
yeah head and they’re attacking anything yeah come on look they’re just ahead in
Friday look at them look at them holy moly there’s another group going over there
yeah look at him their head in air ten there so the only one key thing in
mindfulness is that we have to continue practicing we can’t just do one one
session and we sort of stop it’s not going to change the brain and all the
research supports that if there is a continuation for at least eight weeks
you then see the change within the brain structures so these are references a I
would like to refer we have it to obey via pain management
mindfulness program which calls reconnect to life there are those of
online mindfulness course that you could perhaps consider doing it and there is
the book that I would like to refer which is the happiness trap written by
GP doctor in Australia dr. Ross Harris there are those the things about
mindfulness weekends around within UK and elsewhere those attending the
courses and staying in a group of people practicing mindfulness doing some yoga
that’s about it you

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