I'm finding it difficult to figure out how to write the intro to this dynasty. Lets start with the basics I guess, and then I'll explain (probably over the course of a few posts), how I got here, what I'm hoping to learn/accomplish myself, and what to expect from this dynasty.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
is the title of a specific 8 week long program that appears to be taught at many medical universities. It originated at the University of Massachusettes. The wiki page I linked is pretty sparse. There are a few of these programs in the Raleigh Durham area, notably at Duke and at UNC. I'm going to be in a program that starts in Chapel Hill on Monday.
What Is This?
Structurally, I'll be attending an orientation on Monday that will last about 90 minutes. Then I'll be attending weekly sessions every Monday for the next 8 weeks that last 2 1/2 hours each. Towards the end there is a 6 hour thing on a Saturday.
Conceptually, I'm not entirely sure yet. I have intentionally done a fairly limited amount of research into this to try to limit bias and pre-conceived notions as much as possible. I'll explain what I do know at this point:
is described as "A kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is." Its got roots in Eastern... stuff (religion/practice/philosophy) that I know little about. Another description from the wiki on Mindfulness that I see mentioned a lot in what reading I have done is "Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis". Ok... so sort of a living in the present kind of vibe. This specific program, MBSR, talks about learning how to practice mindfulness, using meditation and yoga to help, and learning how to apply these things to daily life.
The short answer is that this is that this program is a complement to other work that I'm doing to combat some issues I've had with chronic pain over the last few years.
This program was specifically recommended to me by physical therapy (I've referenced PT in a few places on FOFC, but I'll go into more details later here). If I'd stumbled on these websites about mindfulness, or MBSR on my own, I'd instantly dismiss them, despite how open minded I may claim to be - or want to be - about the world. But honestly, in just a few months I've seen some improvements in PT for issues that other doctors of mine have been completely disinterested in over the last few years. I've been able to talk about problems in PT and in many cases received theories for specifically why I have some of the problems I do, and have been given hope that many of my issues are fixable. Again, problems that doctors of mine - doctors that I like, mind you - have had extremely limited answers for, at best throwing medicine vaguely at symptoms and seeing what sticks.
As a result, I'm putting a very large amount of trust and weight into the recommendations of my physical therapists. I've spoken to some other people whose opinion I respect (notably my psychologist that I started seeing when my dad was dying, and continue to see as I work on other issues), and all feedback about me doing this has been incredibly positive, so I'm in.
My Own Bias
Ok, lets get real. I've got some serious bias here, and its why I've done so little research on this. When I talk to my physical therapists (there are two... again, more on this later), I'm expecting to hear talk about muscles, and nerves, and physical problems with physical solutions. I'm smart enough to accept that psychology and physical issues go hand in hand. I can dig that and appreciate that. But there's a point where these conversations get a little... airy? weird? spiritual? abstract? ... where my bias kicks in, where I actively realize I'm talking to people smarter than me, people who have already helped me greatly, but I start to feel seriously dismissive, and I have to fight that to keep listening. Its critical to point out that I DO keep listening, and that I recognize (and don't like) this bias. But it exists. With this mindfulness course, we are FIRMLY within that realm.
There are a lot of statements in the websites I've linked above where my first response is to roll my eyes and shut off a bit. I'd expect that response from many people here, probably just at seeing the title of this thread, would be "What the fuck is this bullshit?" and I wouldn't fault you at all. The people that I trust have talked about the methodology behind this course and have made me feel comfortable that its a solid, sound program, at least enough to give it a fair shake
What do I want to get out of this?
The sole driving force initiating this is dealing with some very awkward chronic pain. The primary physical therapist I'm seeing is a pelvic floor physical therapist. Pelvic Floor deals with bowel/bladder/sexual function. Everyone's got their issues, and this has been mine for the last 3 years or so. I don't even have a diagnosis of anything. Just lots of different types of chronic pain in these systems. We're doing a lot of physical work to try to fix my problems, but anxiety, stress, and other psychological issues can be a big factor, especially with the vague types of problems I have, where I don't get a diagnosis, but rather a lot of symptoms and sort of halfway match a lot of different problems. Sort of.
So that leads to two concurrent goals:
1) If its not possible to make all of my physical symptoms go away forever, I hope there are strategies I can learn in this course such that the pain is less disruptive in my life. And lets face it, none of us here at FOFC are getting younger, so even if my current problems are cured completely, eventually, things are gonna happen, maybe I can equip myself to deal with them better.
2) I do have issues with anxiety. My anxiety likely makes my issues worse, or makes them linger in some way. So I'm hoping that whatever I learn over the next 2 months will help me manage my anxiety.
My honest intention though is to be completely open minded and see where this takes me.
Why write this up on FOFC?
The love of text sim gaming seems to carry with it a lot of similar traits. I believe a large majority of people here would define themselves using many of the same words I use to define myself... highly logical, highly analytical, very thoughtful. I mentioned above that I expect a lot of people to have an initial "what the fuck is this?" response, and it'd be my response if anyone else here started a similar writeup. But there's a lot of stuff here that makes me curious too, so I am thinking it might be interesting to write about my experiences with this program with an audience of like minded individuals.
With most of my other dynasties, I've found that writing about the games I play enhances my immersion and enjoyment, whether anyone is reading or not. So I'm hoping to get that benefit myself out of this, as well.
What to Expect?
Can't say for sure yet since I don't know 100% what to expect yet myself. But with classes on Monday, I'm assuming I'll have an awful lot to write about every Monday. There is also the expectation that I'll spend 30-45 minutes a day on my own time to work on the things we're learning. I intend to write about that as well... but there's a chance that gets too weird, or too personal, or that it will be redundant and boring, so no promises.
-- That's it for the (very) long intro. I intend to write a little more background over the weekend in another post or two, to establish a "starting point" to describe in a little more detail my physical issues, and my issues with anxiety.
Comments/Questions are all welcome here. My intention is to be a complete open book with this.