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October 21, 2019

Mindfulness Matters

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Featuring Genne Geraghty, PA, Ascension Providence in Michigan and survivor, Peter Thomason.


GeAnne Geraghty, PA
Geanne got into the practice of yoga and meditation when she discovered how good she felt after taking a class.  She found it helped her with her lupus. Eventually, she was even able to get off her treatment of prednisone for it.  A lot of disease and illness are a connected with stress.

Research suggests that 90% of all illness and disease is stress-related according to the CDC.  The idea that thoughts and emotions influence health is an ancient concept that was initially abandoned by Western medicine researchers.    There is renewed interest in the interactions of mind and body and the role these interactions play in disease formation and recovery.

Meditation has been around for over 2500 years and is adapted from traditional Eastern systems. It helps to free your mind and focus on the here and now.  It helps to quiet the mental overactivity. It opens attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations that go through the mind from moment to moment (mindfulness meditation).  Not thinking about future or past. You focus on what’s happening at this moment – where you are, what’s happening around you, how your body feels, etc. Get immediate effects.  It lowers the BP, slows respiration, slows the heart rate and slows the nervous system down overall.

It can improve and even alleviate pain.  Meditation gives us the opportunity to have some control over our emotional responses which can alleviate symptoms like depression, anxiety and insomnia according to Dr. Oscar Gluck, MD at the Arizona Rheumatology Center in Phoenix, AZ.

The way individuals experience and cope with distress, depression and anxiety can affect the physiological, psychological and psychosocial outcomes of treatment.  For example, if a person perceives an event as threatening and uncontrollable, they are more likely to use negative coping strategies such as avoidance, distraction, denial.  If a person has favorable beliefs about their ability to handle situations more effectively and efficiently and they perceive a stressful event as controllable, they will be more likely to use positive coping strategies.  These include hope, directing attention, maintaining control over situation, acceptance, information seeking, planning how to solve problems, use of social support, etc.

BMT is a multifaceted treatment associated w/significant physical, social, psychological and emotional stress.  The couple of studies that I looked at indicated that 42-44% of post-transplant patients have mood disorders, distress, depression, anxiety or PTSD.  There is evidence that psychosocial factors such as depression and perceived control affect the actual outcome of BMT itself as well as subsequent survival.

Study was done by Bauer-Wu and colleagues at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center exploring the use of mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions in individuals undergoing inpatient stem cell/BMT.  Findings demonstrated that participants showed a trend toward having a more positive affect after the intervention even while experiencing an increase in symptoms such as nausea and appetite problems.  In addition, even when confronted with increased symptom, nausea and appetite difficulties, patients were able to maintain their concentration after the mindfulness intervention. Maintaining patient’s ability to concentrate might enhance their ability to maintain control of thoughts and reaction to feelings.  Those studies indicated that those patients who participated in mindfulness approaches were found to have improved QOL and reduced distress.

Teach simple breath meditation to pts who need something quick to make it through an MRI or who need a quick ‘go-to’ calming technique.  She got into a deeper form of meditation called yoga nidra (or yoga sleep). There are different types of YN. The type that she practices and teaches is called iRest Yoga Nidra.  The difference between this and a traditional YN is that it has taken the basic structure of a YN and enhanced it by adding several therapeutic steps to heighten its effectiveness.  It is a research-based, trauma-sensitive meditation, relaxation and healing protocol that deeply calms the nervous system, supports the integration of negative emotions and thoughts, and helps build resilience with everyday challenges.  Current research suggests that iRest YN effectively reduces stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, chemical dependency and post-traumatic stress.

GeAnne then gave a mini exercise of Yoga Nidra.

Peter Thomason, Survivor
Peter is a survivor of CLL and underwent a transplant at 62.  3&1/2 yrs. post transplant. Still takes several medications but finds peace with meditation.

He practices Zen meditation.

The practice helps you respond to things that come up more calmly.

A transplant journey can be very traumatic.  You fear whether it comes back, its hard to function, and many other emotions can be experienced.

At times it felt my mind was out of control.

He sits quietly and imagines a wave rolling in and out from the ocean.  He coordinates his breath with the waves. Breathing in when it comes in.  Blowing out when he exhales. He disciplines his mind on when he will address emotions.  It is training the mind to heel. He lets thoughts roll out back in the water if he is not wanting to address the emotions or chaos in a moment.

GeAnne recommends iRest https://www.irest.org/

We acknowledge and thank the following Link Partners for their ongoing support.

• The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
• Incyte Corporation