shouldercrpd“Mindfulness meditation  may relieve chronic inflammation,” I read in the April 2013 issue of APA Monitor.

“According to a study… including people with such inflammatory conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma…based on immune and endocrine markers collected before and after the [8-week mindfulness] trainings, the scientists found that the mindfulness-based stress reduction approach was more effective at reducing stress-induced inflammation.”

Makes sense: mind and body are not two; mind and body are two sides of one and the same coin; mind is body, body is mind; so when mind is calm, non-inflamed*, non-rheumatoid**, so is the body.

There is some ironic etymology here.  The word rheumatic etymologically stems from the word “flow” or river.  Mindfulness training can be defined as a kind of “river-bank attitude”: you sit and watch the river of your mind flow by (from a shore of metacognition).  So, restating the findings of this research in metaphorical terms, when you have a habit (routine/practice) of watching your mind flow, your body flows better too.

Same semantic irony with the word “inflammation”: when your mind is on fire, so is your body; when your mind is cool, so is your body.

*Inflame:

mid-14c., “to set on fire with passion,” from Latin inflammare “to set on fire, kindle,” figuratively “to rouse, excite,” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + flammare “to flame,” from flamma”flame” (see flame (n.)). Literal sense of “to cause to burn” first recorded in English late 14c. (source: etymology.com)

**Rheum:

late 14c., from Old French reume (13c.), ultimately from Greek rheuma “stream, current, a flowing,” from rhein “to flow,” from PIE root *sreu- “to flow” (cf. Sanskrit sravati “flows,” srotah “stream;” Avestan thraotah- “stream, river,” Old Persian rauta “river;” Greek rheos “a flowing, stream,” rhythmos “rhythm,”rhytos “fluid, liquid;” Old Irish sruaim, Irish sruth “stream, river;” Welsh ffrwd “stream;” Old Norse straumr, Old English stream, Old High German strom(second element in maelstrom); Lettish strauma “stream, river;” Lithuanian sraveti “to trickle, ooze;” Old Church Slavonic struja “river,” o-strovu “island,” literally “that which is surrounded by a river;” Polish strumień “brook”). (source: etymology.com)

Inflamed shoulder image available from Shutterstock