I read an article by Amy Norton: “Mindfulness therapy no help in fibromyalgia trial” and had a few thoughts about it. It is a hopeful article with a pessimistic title. In fact, it contains information that I find very encouraging.

I was disappointed to read that mindfulness practice proved to be of no help with Fibromyalgia, but I thought that the method was apparently insufficient for recovery and so it is definitely necessary to do more trials. More studies about the connection between emotional traumas and physical symptoms need to be made. It would be short-sighted to give up trying to find a connection between emotions and symptoms. I think it could and should be researched in a truly scientific and rigorous manner. The article also hints that past traumas and stressful life events might be a fruitful area of research:

“Studies have found that people with fibromyalgia have higher-than-average rates of stressful life events, like childhood abuse and marital problems. There’s also evidence suggesting they are less aware of their own emotions and have more difficulty holding on to positive feelings compared to people without fibromyalgia.”

This is exactly what I hold true about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other such conditions. The problem is not only that there are traumas, but also that the individual is incapable to cope and deal with them. So it is logical that mere awareness of emotional distress is not enough for recovery. What is also needed is a way to effectively release tension, heal the remaining stress of painful life events, and learn to manage stress in everyday life.

In fact, this is what the article suggests as well:

“The idea behind mindfulness practices, Zautra said, is that people become more aware of how they are feeling, emotionally and physically, from moment to moment. Then they can start to see how their emotions affect their perceptions of their physical symptoms. But maybe the problem, Zautra said, is that “awareness by itself is not enough for patients with fibromyalgia.” That is, people with the disorder may need extra help in learning how to manage the emotions that come up when they meditate or practice mindfulness-based yoga.”

It is really encouraging to hear that from a university professor. I hope they will do more research and conduct trials that try to resolve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia by resolving the underlying emotional distress. I am looking forward to hearing about these kinds of experiments done by university researchers. “The jury is out” as they said.

There have been other studies that have shown positive outcomes of mindfulness-based practices, so there is hope that the link between emotions and symptoms of CFS and fibromyalgia will be better understood in the future.

“All 15 studies found that participation in an MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program resulted in improvements. No negative change was reported between baseline and follow up. Outcomes in regard to specific variables were difficult to compare and equivocal. Overall, positive change predominated. Chronic diseases are associated with a range of unwelcome psychological and physical consequences.”[1]

„Evidence for the efficacy of diverse mind-body therapies although predominantly of a preliminary nature is encouraging and larger CFS-specific investigations are warranted, particularly in light of studies indicating such interventions often mediate and even reverse psychoneuroimmunological dysfunction that appears to both precipitate and maintain morbidity in CFS… Greater consideration of the mind-body connection by orthodox medicine and provision of therapies in-house or by referral to individual CAM practitioners would therefore be in the best interest of all parties.“[2]

Here is a great talk by Dr. Kevin Barrows. He talks about the mind-body connection in depth. The video is quite long, so make sure you have an hour and a half. I think the talk is relevant to anyone with CFS/M.E.

If you think you might benefit from mind-body healing approaches, please check out my book on overcoming chronic fatigue syndrome, which gives a detailed account of my recovery from CFS and a lot tips for you to use for your own recovery.