Keep Calm, And


More than ever, patients are recognizing the value of training themselves to breath, pause, rest, relax. With the explosion in availability of free resources available on smart phones, computers, magazines and handouts, the public has increased access to tools with which they can apply concepts in relaxation training, mindfulness, and meditation techniques. Which is the best strategy for our patients? That answer depends on many factors, and the truth is, with the variety of patient presentations, goals, and strategies, the patient may need to simply trial a few different approaches.

A recent radio interview I heard mentioned as a resource for relaxation training, so I decided to check it out prior to recommending the site to patients. The site is simple, with the ability to listen to 2, 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes of guided relaxation, set a timer for the same time intervals, and download an application for the iPhone. The site is visually calming, with a very clean and intuitive interface. My sense is that users would find the site very simple to access and utilize. A simple search on the iPhone application store using the terms "free relaxation" brings up nearly 900 apps. As most of our patients (and selves, friends, families) may benefit from focused, practiced breathing and calming practices, these resources are great to know about.

There is a science behind finding balance, and one resource that has integrated much of the science behind techniques in relaxation and balance is the Institute of HeartMath. The website describes physiological coherence as a state characterized by heart rhythm coherence, increased parasympathetic activity, increased entrainment and synchronization between physiological systems, and efficient functioning of the cardiovascular, nervous, hormonal, and immune systems. In pelvic rehabilitation, we know that increased parasympathetic activity is important for patients who present with pain, with bowel, bladder, or sexual dysfunction. An imbalance in the autonomic nervous system can affect all of the physiologic functions taking place to aid pelvic health.

Two of our upcoming courses, Meditation and Pain Neuroscience and Mindfulness-Based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain offer insights into clinical research as well as practical applications of strategies to affect the autonomic nervous system and therefore physiological functions. These courses take place in September and November, sign up early to save your seats!

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