Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Art of Effortless Living (Ingrid Bacci)

Someone whom I have enormous respect for recommended this book to me. I am ashamed to say how long it took me to actually sit down and read it from when I was first given it, but it was worth the wait..

Like many similar 'self-help' books, one certainly has to be in the right frame of mind to read, and benefit, from such books. It had slowly been dawning on me that the medical professionals were not going to come up with a quick fix, and that I was going to have a) learn to cope and b) take some responsibility to heal myself.  

In short, The Art of Effortless Living by Ingrid Bacci, is one of the most amazing and enlightening books I have ever read - it completely changed my perspective and attitudes almost over night! Clich√©d, I know, but true! It was a complete breath of fresh air and opened my mind to new approaches to manage my health. It didn't hold the answers, but conditioned my closed scientific mind such that I could begin to explore on my own the impact of teh mind-body connection, the complex interconnectivity between my mental health and psychical health, and how I could help myself. A few phrases really stuck with me . . .

"When your body collapses, assume that there are emotions that need to be acknowledged."
 Like many patients today, I have been diagnosed with a handful of conditions, none of which the doctors seem to be able to explain relapses I have. Maybe in patients like me with a very large and complex medical history and several long-term conditions, relapses are caused by a 'last straw' phenomenon. All of these conditions predispose us to a flare-up or relapse, and bring us very close to the threshold for suddenly becoming very ill. What takes us over that threshold could be our mental health - one bad day too many, one bad meeting or difficult day at work - just pushes our already strained bodies over the edge into a relapse.
We as patients have the power to control that last straw and subsequently, maybe control more of our health than we thought possible!

"I needed to override the familiar program that I held in my mind for years, a program that identified my body with restriction, limitation and pain. By changing my program I changed my body."
Elsewhere in the book she talks about a patient she had who didn't know how to be 'well' because he constantly performed health checks on himself, monitoring his symptoms. This is so familiar for patients with  long term health conditions - but when the symptoms do disappear, this checking brings them back! There is the expectation to have them so they do remain. The idea that this is part of wiring system in our brains suggests re-wiring it could solve it! The power of the mind in long-term health conditions is more powerful than I think the medical community often realise.

If our mental power is so important and possibly just as effective as any multi-million pound drug from GSK, shouldn't we all take a little more care of it?

For more information on Ingrid Bacci's work, see - I would recommend her email newsletters!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Bacci uses similar terminology to Ainslie Meares (1910-1986) the Australian Psychiatrist who transitioned from medical hypnosis to teaching a very simple relaxing meditation in Australia before 1960 until his passing. Meares believed that the mind rested as thoughts slowed and the mind stilled in his meditation. He also believed that it was necessary to let the calm of meditation flow on through daily life. A key point being effortlessness. People cant try and relax they have to let go which is effortless. cheers OB