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In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions: Mindfulness-Based Practices for Mastery and Wellbeing Paperback – January 15, 2014
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I loved all the questions at the end of every chapter that allowed me to work personally with the information presented. It was wonderful to read a book about how I can take charge of my health beyond what the medical establishment can provide.
The first two sections of the book introduce the idea of "mindfulness practices," which involve using meditation and other mindful techniques to better take charge of and understand one's thoughts. Berkelhammer contends that these practices can and do have an influence not only on what we think of our illnesses but on the progression of the illnesses themselves. One thing I found a bit frustrating as I read through this section was that it did not go into enough specific detail as to the techniques involved in practicing mindfulness. (There are also some technical medical terms in this section that only those in the medical profession are likely to know what they mean. A glossary of terms would have proved useful.)
The next part of the book introduces "Valued-Action Practice." The specifics of this are found in Part IV, and include the following Practices: Gratitude, Loving Self-Care, Self-Acceptance, Authentic Self-Expression, Cultivating Meaning and Purpose, Connection and Service to Others, Building Relationships, Finding Humor, and others. I found this section to be quite helpful. Much of what the author recommends here is commonsense advice and is similar to what others have recommended. Nevertheless, seeing that so many of us do not consistently follow these practices, it is advice that we need to hear.
Following this is a section on "wellbeing practices" for family caregivers. This section has some really good advice for those who are the primary caregivers for people with debilitating conditions.
I would also recommend reading the Appendixes, particularly the first one, which is on how the mind influences the body. Some of the material in this appendix is technical and requires some knowledge of science to understand. However, there are also a number of descriptions of studies that appear to show that the mind has a significant influence on the brain.
Book provided by the author.
The recurring points in this book reflect the mind's power to influence health. `Mindfulness' is a state of mindful attention and a practice that describes a way of life and is defined as the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. Mindfulness practice normalizes heart rate, heart rhythms, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption - it `helps us become aware of our unhealthy habits and problematic behaviors: thought processes that have been operating below the level of your awareness become increasingly observable as you practice mindfulness.' Or from another definition, `mindfulness is a word that refers to a basic human capacity for non-conceptual, non-judging, and present-moment-awareness. This awareness arises form intentionally paying attention, form noticing on purpose what is occurring inside and outside of us, with an attitude of friendliness and acceptance toward what is happening while it is happening.'
The author offers proof that volunteer work is a health advantage, laughter reduces stress hormones and increases immune cell counts - all delivered in a warmly caring attitude and manner of exposition that Dr. Berkelhammer becomes our best friend. Scientifically he adds an Appendix in which he states `all cognition and behavior are associated with changes in brain structure and function, which can influence systemic physiological effects.' This is the science door he opens for both the lay reader and the medical practitioners. There is such fine information here that everyone caring for or suffering from chronic illness should digest. Bravo to Dr.Berkelhammer! Grady Harp, July 14
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The author suffers from multiple, severe chronic conditions for which there are no known cures.Read more