Sunday, June 12, 2016


There’s a great saying—actually, there are many of them—that one hears regularly in twelve step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is this---‘Let the past stay in the past.’

Here’s a little story that I like. An old Chinese farmer was walking along a road. He had a stick across his shoulder, and hanging from the stick was a pot filled with soybean soup. The old farmer stumbled and the pot fell to the ground, breaking into many pieces, with the result that the contents of the pot spilled out all over the road. The farmer kept walking, unperturbed.

A man rushed up to the farmer and said excitedly, ‘Don’t you know that your pot just broke? Why didn’t you turn around and take a look?’ The old farmer replied, ‘Yes, I know that. I heard it fall. The pot’s broken. The soup is gone. But what can I do about it? Nothing.’

There’s a saying, not from twelve-step programs, that says pretty much the same thing---‘It’s no use crying over spilled milk.’

Things go wrong in life. Shit happens. We all stuff up from time to time. The past cannot be changed, although some things can be made good. No amount of worry will change the past. Let it stay in the past. I love this quatrain from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

The past is gone. It exists only as a present memory or hurt. Let it go. Don’t be like Lot’s wife in the Book of Genesis. She was told not to look behind her, lest she be swept away. She chose to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.

So, dear friends, let the past stay in the past. And when I say the past I am referring not only to past occurrences, events and happenings but also to all our negative ‘hangovers’ from the past in the form of such things as bad memories, regrets and resentments. Be done with them all, if you want peace of mind. Don't look back. 

I will finish with these words from Elmer Rice’s play Dream Girl:

If you can make a dream come to life, grab hold of it. But if it dies on you, roll up your sleeves and give it a decent burial, instead of trying to haul the corpse around with you.


Saturday, June 4, 2016


Mindfulness in the form of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a tailored six-week mindfulness program, can lead to improvements in some physical and psychological symptoms that breast cancer survivors often experience, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

‘Although not all patients suffer to a high degree from these distressing symptoms, research shows that due to treatment and long-term effects often patients experience depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, fears of recurrence (FORs) and physical symptoms of pain and fatigue,’ said lead author Professor Cecile A Lengacher [pictured below] of the University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa, Florida.

When breast cancer survivors transition off of treatment and experience physical symptoms, they may worry that it’s a sign of cancer recurrence and be at a higher risk for anxiety and depression, Dr Lengacher told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers tested the effects of a MBSR program and examined whether any particular types of patient seemed to benefit most from the therapy. For the study, researchers compared 155 breast cancer survivors who completed a six-week MBSR program with 167 survivors who received usual care. Symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, fear of cancer recurrence, fatigue, pain and quality of life were all measured before the study began, after the six-week program ended and another six weeks later.

Women in the mindfulness program attended two-hour sessions conducted by a clinical psychologist once weekly and received training manuals and CDs. They practiced four meditation techniques, including sitting, walking, body scan and Hatha yoga and learned how to apply them in daily life.

The researchers kept track of how many sessions each participant attended and how much of the assigned 15 to 45 minutes of at-home practice per day each completed, based on their diaries.

For the MBSR group, the largest mindfulness-related improvements happened during the first six weeks and most were maintained at 12 weeks. They experienced a greater reduction in anxiety, fear of recurrence and fatigue compared to those in the control group, although the improvements were small to moderate.

There was no meaningful difference for depression scores or pain levels, according to the results.

Mindfulness practice helps patients learn how to self-regulate their emotions by acceptance and non-reacting to internal and external cues and experiences, reducing reactions to emotional and physical triggers, and learning to be in the present, which diminishes the distress of worrying about the past or future, Dr Lengacher said.

‘Also, this trial showed that those patients with the most stress had the highest benefit from this trial, indicating the importance of screening patients for distress,’ Dr Lengacher said.

Survivors of other types of cancer also suffer from varying symptoms depending on type and stage of cancer, she said.

Study: Lengacher, C A et al. ‘Examination of Broad Symptom Improvement Resulting From Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial.’ May 31, 201610.1200/JCO.2015.65.7874JCO May 31, 2016 JCO657874.

Acknowledgment: Reuters Health. Doyle, K. ‘Mindfulness program may reduce fear, fatigue for cancer survivors.’ Life | Thu Jun 2, 2016 2:57pm EDT. All rights reserved.

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