My name is Lisa Venable and I'm from Minnetonka, Minnesota. And mindfulness came my way about 20,25 years ago when I started having symptoms of arthritis and immobility. And I went to a rheumatologist and got diagnosed with something called spondilitis, it's in the rheumatoid arthritis family. And it started in my eyes, I had arthritis in my eye. And then it kind of went down my neck and my back and kind of moved around, and kind of landed in my feet. So, I was about 30, I could hardly walk, and my feet were swollen and they wanted to put me on a lot of medication. And I really wanted to find a way to not be on medication the rest of my life. So I did that, but then also my doctor told me I might try this mindfulness space stress reduction program. And I couldn't do much else, like yoga, I could hardly stand to do yoga poses. So, I took the class. It was a weeks long, and it just completely changed my life. It changed my ability to deal with chronic pain and anxiety that comes with that and the medical treatments, and the immobility. And the life that, at a 30 year old woman, my life was very limited in the things I wanted to do, especially have children, get married, that kind of thing. If I'm having pain, let's say in, most of my pain has been in my feet. Now it's kind of in my wrist, and my eyes too. But in my feet, for example, I would have pain with walking. And I would often times get into fear about, my gosh, I have a little pain now, it's going to get worse. I kind of go into that anxiety loop. And so with each step what I would use the mindfulness practise would be to just observe the pain, breathe into it. Kind of just notice that it's there, maybe sit down, rub my foot, whatever. Just sort of be present instead of like go off into fear or just keep walking over the pain and get worse. So, I just use mindfulness to really kind of turn on that observer, because that's what it helped me do is turn on that observer self that doesn't have to label this is good or bad. It just is pain. I'm sorry, I really watch myself when I go into suffering, which is all the anxiety and the fear that goes with it and the resistance. And I just observed pretty then to it, say it's just a pain, it's going to be okay and I might just live with it. And the more I sit with and just be with it, it seems to get better. Lke my walking, it feels easier or maybe I just am more sensible about what I need to do to walk better, like use an aide if I need one. Or maybe I need to sit down, or maybe I need to ask for help and get a ride somewhere to be dropped off, so I don't have to walk so far. So I started learning different techniques because I wasn't resisting. Is my pain actually lessened from observing it? I would say it is on some level. I don't know what's happening, whether my tolerance has gotten greater or I'm just not noticing it as much or the acceptance helps me just move through it. It's hard to know why. I just know that it either goes away or it lessens or I just do whatever I have to do to take care of myself. And sometimes I take medicines, an anti-inflammatory. But I find that I don't have to as often if I would just stop and bring it out and let my mind kind of take over into the worst case scenario, or this is just going to get worse. Because in many cases it has gotten worse, I've had five foot surgeries. It's been really hard, I worked with walkers and gaines and many wheel chairs. And the pain has been so bad in my ankles and feet that I just really couldn't walk. So there is moments like that, and then are in a wheelchair and you use mindfulness for that. Because that's not fun. And yet, I learned to just be part of my reality, part of my, just what it is and what I have to do right now. Until I learn to adapt and still enjoy my life. Most of my friend will say, you're happier than you've ever been. And you've lived with this for so many years and you're happy than you have ever were. And I know that's a lot because of this practice. Because I can be with it and still be happy. I kind of made that decision 20 years ago, that I could either go through this and have pain the rest of my life and be depressed, or I could be happy. And I chose to be happy. It didn't happen overnight, but it was a commitment to my life and to myself that I would. And mindfulness just helped me to keep choosing that. Because when you're present you're not judging yourself, or your situation, or the pain. You're able to just do what you have to do. It's just so much easier. Basic mindfulness for me has been just the breath, kind of focusing on the breath. Every morning I do probably 20 minutes. I used to do a body scan as well, but I often fell asleep with that. So I mostly just kind of had my hands to you feel my breathing. The breath is the anchor and still mindfulness meditation, 20 minutes to half hour. And that really keeps me kind of in the mindfulness mode. And after I did that for several years, it just start becoming a way of life. It just is ingrained in me to be mindful, I'm not saying that it's always there. But its generally part of who I'm now. Because I practiced so long. So now I don't practice as often as I used to, or as long as I used to probably but probably 20 minutes a day of the breathing. But then when the situations come up like, my gosh, I'm walking and there's pain in my ankle. I will use it to observe that pain and sit with it, maybe sit down, feel the pain, just go right into it and let it be. And watch my thoughts and my mind and then clear that out and just say, this is going to move through. It's going to work, it's going to be okay. Well for me and I don't if this would happen with everyone, but for me as I said, I'm very aware of my body now. Like so aware that I feel everything. So sometimes I can be challenging or limiting, or whatever because for some people maybe who have pain, they just kind of walk through it or they ignore it, they keep going. Sometimes you get more done that way, maybe, right? And for me, I'm so present to it and I feel everything pretty deeply. So sometimes that gets in my way, because I can be overly sensitive to something. And then I can sometimes get attached to that whole thing. And so mindful helps me again to kind of work with that being attached to having my body feel a certain way, a good way, right? And that sometimes, it's going to feel pleasant, sometimes it's going to be unpleasant and that's just part of the deal. So that's one thing. I think another limitation can be thinking, well if I just do this, I won't have to take medication. I won't have to do the medical route if I do this alternative route. And of course, I spent many years trying to a lot of alternative things to drugs. Because I really don't think that prescribing drugs is really the only answer to this kind of disease. And yet that's what most of physicians, newer ones coming in, actually I have a younger now because mine's retired. And she's much more open to all of these. Which I think is really important, because I learned it's a whole picture of things both eastern medicine and western, I need both. The mindfulness practice has saved me. It's helped me keep doing it. I might be in a wheelchair, I'm not having another surgery, I can't do that, who wants to be cut up? I just would advocate there's this holistic method when working with patients that you can't just prescribe drugs and think that's it, because it's not. But also did not, as a patient did not, to think I can just do this and never have to. And maybe you won't, maybe some patients won't have to take medications. I haven't found that to be true. But I can see, I've got in the trap where I think I can get off everything. And I have gotten off a lot of medications that I used to be on. So I'm really grateful for that. But diet is another reason I believe. Besides mindfulness, that's helped me with that. But that's another story. I guess I recommend that because it's a discipline. It gets you into a routine and a practise and commitment to doing it everyday. So when I first did that program, it was a big committment of time but it was worth it. And if I was not part of a group I think in nay class I might not have not done it. I night not have really committed to trying this. And so I think that program is highly successful. We know there's research that's showing that it's got great results. And that would be my first recommendation. And if someone's not willing to do that, at least get a guided tape or CD, whatever to have guidance. because it is tough to just do it on your own without some voice guiding you through meditation practice. And there's a lot of those available out there online that you can get. Well I think the two challenges that come to mind are time. I don't have enough time to do this. And the second challenge is probably my mind's too busy. I can't, and I hear that a lot from fellow meditators or students. I've had when I taught mindfulness, that my mind shatters too much, and I can't do meditation. The first one is run of time, it's just a story that we all run and it's not true, it's a choice. And anything we do as a choice. So it's really just making that decisions that I want to be able to deal with pain in a different way without drugs. Tthen I have to make a choice that I have to put a certain amount of time into that practice to make it successful. Just like you would learning to play piano or learning a new skill, you would put time into it, and that's what this takes. A little effort, a little time, and then it just becomes a way of life once you kind of get through the learning phase of it. So really to just when you're sitting or meditating, it's just to be able to when that voice comes in that there's not enough time. I am supposed to be doing something else, it's just like right now I get to just do this. And set a timer, 20 minutes or half hour, whatever you want to do. Even if it's just five minutes, I think it's worth it. And you set a timer so you don't have to worry about the time and you just set that aside and you're fully present to it. And just know that time is a story that you have to decide, make a choice. The second one, about the busy mind, I always just sometimes mindful movement helps them, learning how to do mindful walking. Mindful eating practice, there´s others mindful practices if closing your eyes is hard or walking in nature. I often do that myself, is go out in nature and just be connected to nature and look around. And that gets me a lot out of my head, and my thoughts. It's giving your thoughts a rest, is what I think it's all about.