What is mindfulness practice and can it help reduce symptoms of my multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Answers from Amit Sood, M.D.
Mindfulness practice, also called mindful meditation, is a type of mind-body therapy that involves focusing awareness on what you're experiencing in an open, interested and nonjudgmental way. The goal of mindfulness is to create distance between your perception and response to certain situations or feelings, helping you respond more thoughtfully and calmly, and potentially reducing the effects of stress.
Studies show that for some people with MS, chronic exposure to stress is associated with worsening neurological symptoms and increased brain lesions. Research has also found a consistent association between stressful life events and relapses.
Researchers believe that mindfulness may help people better respond to stress by fostering healthier coping strategies. For example, study participants who reported higher levels of mindfulness were less likely to rely on coping strategies, such as denial, disengagement and self-blame. They were also more likely to use more-positive strategies, such as information gathering, planning and seeking out social support.
Mindfulness practice appears to be a safe, drug-free approach to coping with stress and anxiety, which may in turn help reduce your MS symptoms.
Oct. 03, 2014
See more Expert Answers
- Meditation: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm. Accessed Aug. 20, 2014.
- Senders A, et al. Perceived stress in multiple sclerosis: The potential role of mindfulness in health and well-being. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;19:104.
- Simpson R, et al. Mindfulness based interventions in multiple sclerosis — A systematic review. BMC Neurology. 2014;14:15.