Why are Buddhist monks happy? Why are they peaceful even in front of great difficulties? Thanks to Dalai Lama’s permission, a research studied how areas of brain activate when monks are meditating and the result was that levels of activation of their left prefrontal cortex were more intense. In other words, they were happier than other people. Does this mean we all have to become Buddhist monks to have benefits? It turns out we don’t. Studies have shown that eight weeks of dedicated training of Mindfulness practice are enough to have some benefits. Not only do people say they are in a better mood but also MRI scans confirm it.
What is Mindfulness?
The meaning of Mindfulness practice is rooted in Buddhist traditions and in particular in Vipassana meditation, a major type of Buddhist meditation practice. More than 2500 years ago this practice explored the potentialities of meditation, intended as awareness and acceptance of reality as it is, because it’s this very acceptance that effects a positive change.
The core of Mindfulness teaching is based exactlly on this concept. In the past 20 years the scientific community have devoted more and more attention to Vipassana meditation which, through its purpose of profound awareness of emotive, mental, social, biological, cosmic and sensorial experience, possesses beneficial virtues for health.
Its philosophy is the attention to the present moment through a profound self-knowledge, and this allows us to know how our mind works and how it predicts, judges, avoids or becomes attached to things and, above all, how it creates pain.
Why Mindfulness practice can help physiotherapy in treating acid reflux?
The diaphragm is the muscle to refer to in case of mechanical problems caused by acid reflux and it has to be kept in good shape to solve or avoid such problems. It is also the main muscle for breathing and it reflects our moods, so much so to be called “the Muscle of emotion”, being emotions intimately connected with breathing and, consequently, with the diaphragm.
In fact, the diaphragm reacts to our emotions of the moment, stretching and stiffening in a way we don’t realize. For instance, in situations of intense stress such as anger, fear, frustration, worry, we involuntarily tend to hold our breath, failing to give our diaphragm some rest and preventing it to function properly; this will alter its respiratory rhythm and consequently it will inevitably shorten its fibers and stiffen more and more. As a consequence, its dome-shaped structure will be modified and it will push on the underlying stomach with resulting acid reflux, hiatal hernia and acid-reflux tachycardia.
When we are unable to manage intense stress, anxiety or worry, we remain entangled in the vicious circle of a psychosomatic disorder. On the contrary, a regular Mindfulness practice allows us to improve the knowledge of ourselves and, consequently, of our destructive parts or modes, those our mind conceives when blocked by guilt feelings, fear of future or compulsive activities. Through a regular practice, Mindfulness helps us recognize all these obsessive rituals, thus empowering us to gain control of our actions and to choose what is really useful and important to us. Its strength, therefore, lies in allowing patients to understand the destructive mode of operation of their minds, that same mode that led them inevitably, unconsciously and relentlessly to having a disorder, in this case the Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
By improving our self-knowledge we can recognize the cause of our illness and then treat it. Although you may happen to relax and often you sense an interior peace and a sense of joy, Mindfulness is not a relaxation technique, because its key goal is the acceptance, in the present, of your own experience, whatever it may be. We can define Mindfulness as the Western version of Vipassana meditation, mainly employed for therapeutic purposes. Today it is included in the official therapeutic protocols of several disorders, in particular for depression, anxiety disorders, in oncology and in pain syndromes.
Trabucco method includes Mindfulness practice as a valuable and crucial integration to physiotherapy in the treatment of acid reflux, hiatal hernia and acid-reflux tachycardia.