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There will be times when you get stuck inside your head with thoughts of how you are right and someone else is wrong, for example. Having felt his way into the core experience of suffering, the practitioner begins next to more systematically recognize and sort out the chief consequences of the illness in the patient's personal life and social world. Here the physician begins by eliciting information on the impact of the illness on family, work, and other important aspects of the social context. Another kind of information gathering can also be undertaken. Have any menacing life changes or breakdowns in the social support network or failures in coping contributed to the onset of the illness and, more particularly, to exacerbations? Physicians can be trained to make these assessments expeditiously and supportively. By describing the course of the illness in the patient's life, the practitioner comes to know not only the patient's (and family's) response but also something about the major continuities and changes in that life. That is to say, the practitioner can come up with a rough appreciation of the patient's local social system and the recursive influence of his illness on that context and of the context on the illness. Various interviewing skills, even the application of selected questionnaires, may help to develop the ethnographic picture of the patient's world and of the place of illness within it. I have in mind the use of impact of illness scales, social functioning questionnaires, and brief clinical scales that rate stress and social support and coping skills. Cassell (1985) describes a number of expeditious techniques the clinician can use to make valid inferences from patients' use of language in the clinical interview. There's even a free meditation audio you can use for your daily practice. I believe the mental and emotional balance you can get through meditation is our natural state, how we're meant to be as humans. Finding this balance leads to increased focus and concentration skills, improved productivity, and an upgrade in your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. And FYI - Just because meditation gets serious results doesn't mean it can't be approached with a light heart. Tongue in cheek commentary is just in my nature. ABOUT THE AUTHOR My name is Sherri Stockman, and I'm a Transformation Coach, Naturopath, Medical Intuitive, and a long-time meditator. I did extensive meditation training in the 1990s, including a year as an apprentice so I could learn how to teach. But I got my start long before that - I have memories of experiences as a young child that I now know were mindfulness meditations.

And these days, I meditate on purpose. There will be times when you are angry and resentful and can't seem to find your way out of those feelings. We all have those times--we are human, and life is sometimes hard. Please be easy on yourself. Sometimes too you will run into situations, difficulties, or challenges without having the time to purposefully use your creative power. When you lack the time to get calm and clear with your intentions and inner guidance, you can always default to one or both of two potent strategies that will never fail you: wishing for someone else what you wish for yourself, and having an attitude of gratitude. Wish for Others What You Wish for Yourself All of us generally want the same things in life: We want to feel safe. We want ease, financial abundance, health, fulfillment, love, happiness, and passion. All of us also come from different backgrounds with different values, beliefs, and pathways for living life. When these differences arise and you find yourself struggling with releasing judgment, anger, blame, depression, anxiety, or worry, stop and ask yourself what you desire for yourself. There are many other technical publications that can aid the clinician in this task as well. But it is important to remember that our model is ethnography, not survey research. My experience convinces me that quantitative social assessments tend to provide fairly superficial characterizations, though their thoroughness may be at times a practical benefit. Much more valuable than the actual techniques used is the show of genuine interest on the physician's behalf and his serious concern to work out a history of the illness and the sick person in terms of the social context. This ethnographic attitude is the crux of the method. The next step is for the physician to record the chief current psychosocial problems associated with the illness and its treatment. These illness problems will include a wide variety of difficulties that can nonetheless be grouped into a standard list of categories such as marital and other family conflicts; Psychological responses to disability that become significant problems for patients (demoralization, anxiety, phobic avoidance, maladaptive denial) should also be entered into this listing. Coming up with an illness problem list is not an academic exercise.

Rather it is an accompaniment to the biomedical list of disease problems, and like that list should be used to more systematically implement appropriate therapies (see Katon and Kleinman 1981; I wrote this article because I found that lots of folks are hesitant about using this ancient empowerment technique we call meditation. They don't know what it is, and they're not sure where to start. So they don't. And that's a darn shame! By setting aside a bit of time each day - usually first thing in the morning works best for me - my meditation practice has become a habit. One that invariably makes my day go more smoothly. My hope is that you'll want to do the same, and uncover that deep, still calm that exists within YOU, so you too can have more focus, less stress and better health. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look once in awhile, you could miss it. Stress is ridiculously hard on you, in every way imaginable. Then allow yourself to envision it for the person you are angry with, the person you are blaming, or the person you are worried about. You will feel your own difficult negative feelings begin to melt. In any situation in which you are tempted to feel angry and frustrated with others, acknowledge that they likely want the same kinds of things in life that you do. For example, if there is argument and confusion, you likely wish for clarity, and others involved likely want clarity too. If you have a difference of opinion about money that is owed (or not), you probably want financial abundance and fairness, and the other person probably does as well. If you are angry at someone for saying something that hurt your feelings, you likely want to be understood and accepted. The other person also likely wants to be understood and accepted. The ability to want good things for others, just as you want good things for yourself, is an important skill to develop. You can use it to help you release judgmental or blaming thoughts.

Even without truly understanding what causes other people to act as they do--a fear reaction triggered from their own history, for instance, or just a view that differs from your own--you can find a place within yourself to wish good things for them. Rosen and Kleinman 1984). For example, in article 2 I describe the impact of Alice Alcott's illness on her life. The practitioner caring for Mrs. Alcott could (and, I would urge, should) list the psychosocial concomitants of her diabetes in the medical record as a means of assessing the status of these problems over time. Alice Alcott's problem list would record her various losses (of body image, function, and ability to carry out activities), her active grieving and demoralization, her extensive denial that delayed therapy for potentially remedial complications, and the practical problems her illness created in her family life. Howie Harris's (article 3) illness problem list would enumerate his morbid preoccupation with his back, his passive dependent coping style, and their negative effect on his work situation and family, including serious limitations in activities, withdrawal and isolation, fear of losing his job, and alienation from his wife and children. Each of the patients whose illness experience we have described could be assessed in this manner. Side by side with the illness problem list, the practitioner should list interventions undertaken to help the patient resolve or lessen the problems. Interventions might include short-term supportive psychotherapy, family counseling, referral for social work consultation or job counseling, formal rehabilitation for activities of daily living or more specific work tasks, and legal aid. Another type of intervention is advice on diet, exercise, and life style, as well as on how to deal with difficult treatment regimens that greatly burden life and with trying relationships in the health care system that create frustration and rage. But here we are in the 21st century, working our butts off to support our addictions to eating and paying rent, using our cool little electronic devices, running hither and yon, just trying to get it all done. Chronic stress can lead to - or make worse - health problems like high blood pressure, weight gain, acne, hair loss, headaches, fatigue, memory loss, insomnia, depression. So what can you do about it? Well, there are medicines that seem to help sometimes, but they don't really get to the root of the problem. In other words, you're still stressed, and you still have those symptoms. You just don't care so much anymore. But there IS a remedy that's been tested for several thousand years. Meditation. Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree.

It completely changes your brain. When you are aware of your own desires--such as for love, for financial abundance, for safety and security, for acceptance and friendship--you can know that these are things that most all people want for themselves. You will be activating energy in keeping with what you want for yourself when you wish those same good things for others. When you envision others receiving what you want for yourself, you are activating more of that energy for both of you. You also are increasing your capacity for understanding and empathy. As you understand others and have compassion for them, you will be putting yourself in an energy field with abundant similar opportunities, such as others having understanding and empathy for you. Live in an Attitude of Gratitude Gratitude is the easiest, fastest way to give your energy waves the kick needed to activate quantum communication. It is also the easiest, fastest way to increase your energy field with the things that make you happy, which brings you the opportunity for more of the same. It is the easiest, fastest way to create the future you desire for yourself. Whatever it is that you enjoy, feel thankful for it, notice it already present in your daily life, and say thank you to the universe of energy. Just as the physician follows up on and records the effects of biomedical interventions, so, too, should he record the effects of these illness interventions. Indeed, determination of overall outcome should include assessment of the effect of illness interventions as well as of disease treatments. Untoward side effects and toxicities of illness interventions should be specified in the same manner that drug toxicities are documented. Over the long course of chronic illness, this system of clinical accounting will assist the practitioner to build a more valid understanding of the course of the illness, of changes in the nature and severity of its effects on the patient and his world, and of the uses and misuses of psychosocial therapy. Inasmuch as an appropriate goal for treating the chronically ill is to reduce the disabling effects of the disorder, this accounting system would also build a more systematic measure of progress in rehabilitation. A Brief Life History Closely related to the working up of a mini-ethnography is the solicitation of a brief life history. This history used to be (and in some places still is) a standard part of the elaborate medical history beginning clinical clerks were asked to record in the hospital record. Here the clinician asks the patient and the family to sketch in the sick individual's life course, with a review of major continuities and changes in attitude, personality, major life goals and obstacles, and relevant earlier experiences of coping with illness and other serious conditions.