This is the second post in a series of Dr. Siegel posts regarding his keynote speech and master class I attended at Medx. You can read the first Dr Siegel post here!
I’ve discussed numerous times with other patients how important a connection with your doctor is. Unfortunately, the health care model we have today puts so much pressure on medical practitioners that they hardly have enough time to see their patients any given day.
Dr. Siegel keynote presentation was focused on how compassion and connection play into healing and health. Medicine isn’t just about giving patients medication to get better. He said our lives are so dependent on connection that even a 30 second empathic conversation can help a patient get better.
Relationships directly affect the molecular structure of the body. Presences leads to improvements in the repair and maintenance processes to the ends of our chromosomes. It’s also been show to be associated with changes in the non DNA molecules that help prevent inflammatory diseases. Connection with others helps to optimize your mind, helps to bring meaning and emotional balance, and helps to develop compassion. “This pattern of healthy living involves the integration of energy and information within the nervous system and between people. Integration is the organizing principle that links the ways energy and information flow is shared (relationships), is shaped (the mechanisms of the embodied nervous system or, termed simply, the brain), and is regulated (the mind).” (Mind, Brain & Relationships, Dr. Dan Siegel) When integration happens in the mind we either get chaos or harmony. Dr. Siegel stated that Integration is the fundamental basis of health and, when made visible, is kindness and compassion.
Dr. Siegel introduced the PART acronym to present the fundamental parts that healing relationships have.
Presence, Attunement, Resonating & Trust
Providers need to be present. And not just in the physical form, but mentally present as well. A mindfulness practice was suggested to providers to help develop this presence.
A – Attunement
Providers need to focus their attention on the inner nature of the person. If the provider is mentally and physically present then this will *hopefully* flow naturally
R – Resonating
Providers need to feel empathetic for the patient. In this situation, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Providers and patients need to become a ‘we’ in everything.
T – Trust
If the provider is present, attuned and resonating with you, you then have the foundation of a trustful relationship to form. Social engagement is then turned on between the two of you and this is where you start to see physiological changes occur.
Dr. Lissa Rankin, in her book Mind Over Medicine, talked about how a doctor’s outlook on a situation can influence the patient’s future state. In a Facebook post she wrote on 10 Tips For Finding A Doctor she stated,
So if a doctor’s connection with us can help us heal, can changing our own mindsets help us heal?
Yes! Yes it can!
You many not have caused your autoimmune disease, but practicing mindfulness can help with integration of your brain, improve your immune system and improve epigenetic control of inflammation.
First, you NEED to have a partnership with your provider. You need to be empowered, knowledgable and be able to work together with your physicians to facilitate your healing process. Healing is equated with integration. Integration is forming that connection with your health care provider. Once you create that connection, changes can occur all over the body.
Part of the challenge with inviting empowered patients to use mindfulness to prevent or deal with their conditions, is the feeling of guilt. When we start to realize that our thoughts can manifest as these diseases, we start to think we brought these diagnosis’ on ourselves. That’s why, within our mindfulness practice we need to work on reducing guilt and realizing that correlation is NOT causation. We’ll never be able to say for sure if we did or didn’t cause our health problems, so isn’t it better to skip that argument all together?
Dr. Siegel talked about how researchers KNOW that what you do with your mind directly affects your body.
He went on to explain that you can. . .
~ Reduce Cortisol
When you reduce your stress levels, you reduce the stress hormone levels.
~ Improve Immune System Function
By just practicing mindfulness, your body’s immune system will improve. It’s thought that because your stress response is lowered and you initiate relaxation response, you flip your immune system up! “A study performed at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin–Madison showed that health care practitioners who are empathic seem to be able to reduce the duration of the common cold in patients and boost their immune systems.”(Dr. Dan Siegel)
~ Create Brain Shifts
When you’re facing a challenge the way you deal with it activates different parts of your brain. If you retreat, then your right side is activated. If you approach the challenge and say ‘BRING IT ON!’ then you activate the left side of your brain. By creating these brain function shifts you can actually start to change the function of the brain.
~ Integrate Your Brain
When you form connections and experience relationships, create empathy, build trust, etc your brain is integrating.
~ Regulate Telomerase Levels
When you practice being present, when you’re in an acceptation state, instead of a reactive state, the enzymes that repair the ends of your chromosomes (telomerase) are able to repair your chromosomes.
So I hate to ask this question, but do you need any more evidence to prove that compassion, positivity and connections are directly related to the outcome of your diagnosis?
When you wake up.
When you brush your teeth.
When you tie your shoes.
Write it on sticky notes.
Write it on a chalk board.
Whatever you do, start to train your brain to think more positively!
And, very importantly, find a doctor who BELIEVES you WILL get better and live a great life.
Because you totally deserve to live your best life possible!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!