The Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute is excited to offer continuing education courses this year in mindfulness and in meditation, which are not necessarily one in the same. However, each has a relationship with the other, and may be combined into lovely practices. More importantly, you may be wondering, "How does mindfulness fit into pelvic rehab?" Mindfulness or meditation has been applied to many pain diagnoses, and even to pelvic rehab conditions such as bowel or bladder dysfunction, and pelvic pain. (For some interesting reading about mindfulness and meditation, check out the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's website by clicking here.
In this Canadian study, 14 women participated in four sessions of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy tailored to women with provoked vulvodynia (PVD). The sessions were spaced 2 weeks apart, and each session was 2 hours in length. The program included education in PVD and in pain neurophysiology, cognitive behavioral skills ("identifying problematic thoughts"), progressive muscle relaxation (contract-relax), and mindfulness exercises. The mindfulness exercises included eating meditation, mindfulness of breath, body scan and mindfulness of thoughts. The goal of this particular research article was to describe the women's thoughts about participation in the study activities. The authors report on six major themes from the study:
1)Feeling more normal and part of a community in the group setting
2)Positive psychological outcomes
3)Impact of relationship (supportive versus unsupportive partner)
4)Feeling of gratitude for group facilitators
5)Concern about barriers to continuing their mindfulness practice
6)Feelings of self-efficacy in being able to exert control over their pain
One of the major themes expressed by the participants in this study is that of feeling more "normal" through finding out that other women have the same symptoms and knowing that there are a myriad of symptoms associated with vestibulodynia. By participating in the study, women reported having improvements in self-esteem and feeling more optimistic about their challenges with physical activities such as sexual relationships. Carloyn McManus, who has degrees in both physical therapy and psychology, shares her expertise in our new course: Mindfulness-based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain. The next opportunity to take this mindfulness continuing education course, and learn skills that you can immediately apply in mindfulness is this November in Seattle.