By Paola Bassanese
Who am I?
Not a question we tend to ask ourselves that often, if we ever do.
It is only when we are unwell that we appreciate our health more and we ponder about the meaning of what we do and its consequences.
Emotions can manifest in physical illness and we are all on a steep learning curve to understand our body, our mind and our emotions, how they are all interlinked and how disease can be the result of stressful situations.
This is where mindfulness can help at times of stress and uncertainty. People are living in a constant state of exhaustion and they are tricked into thinking that to be successful they must be on the go and stressed at all times.
Health is an investment of your time and of your mental attitude. To be better equipped to stay healthy, mindfulness can be of help. Mindfulness has been featured extensively in the media recently and for all the right reasons.
I recently spoke with Dr. Barbara Mariposa who specialises in keeping people healthy using her expertise in talking therapies, neuroscience and Five Elements acupuncture to create and maintain a sustainable sense of wellbeing.
Dr. Barbara believes we all have the potential to be well and stay healthy and yet our mental attitude can put barriers to it.
Using acupuncture you can look at the core of someone’s problems and find a solution that can take care of a person’s emotional needs.
Among the people she treated, Dr Barbara has seen people whose feelings of anger and resentment had translated into physical pain like chronic back pain or constant migraines.
People channel their emotions and feelings in different ways and the more introverted may “bottle up” their feelings instead of allowing them to pass.
For example, chronic back pain is one of those physical illnesses that can have a root cause in an emotional state: it can be the physical manifestation of an underlying emotion like frustration, anger and stress.
Sometimes therapies can be too problem-focused so using mindfulness as a therapeutic tool empowers people to manage their pain and emotions by making them more aware of their responses to stress (overeating, substance abuse, feeling hopeless). The key is that we are not our thoughts so we can observe thoughts like “I don’t want to go to the gym today” and simply acknowledge that this type of thought is not useful to us and we can either ignore it or replace it with a better one like “I am going to exercise today and feel good about myself”.
Simply practising mindfulness will improve your sense of wellbeing and therefore immune functioning, lower the levels of the damaging stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline: you ultimately start living life to the full without dwelling too much into the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness therefore is being able to accept, experience and allow thoughts to pass rather than resist, try to control, deny, or push away which is what makes so -called “negative” emotions persist.
Dr Barbara’s philosophy is to look at the “inner game of health”: in other words, our responsibility to be healthy and how our mental attitude reflects our outer health (the “outer game of health” ie behaviours like eating the right food, exercising, having rest when needed). The inner game of health is a workout for the mind so that we keep thoughts and feelings in good shape.
This is why Dr Barbara is sharing her vast knowledge and expertise in a series of workshops, entitled Mind and Mood Mastery Course starting from 14th May 2013: you can find out more on her website
Dr Barbara Mariposa is based at the White Crane Clinic in Primrose Hill