The Mindful Body: A Phenomenology of the Body With Multiple Sclerosis
For people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), one’s own body may no longer be taken for granted but may become instead an insistent presence. In this article, we describe how the body experience of people with MS can reflect an ongoing oscillation between four experiential dimensions: bodily uncertainty, having a precious body, being a different body, and the mindful body. People with MS can become engaged in a mode of permanent bodily alertness and may demonstrate adaptive responses to their ill body. In contrast to many studies on health and illness, our study shows that the presence of the body may not necessarily result in alienation or discomfort. By focusing the attention on the body, a sense of well-being can be cultivated and the negative effects of MS only temporarily dominate experience. Rather than aiming at bodily dis-appearance, health care professionals should therefore consider ways to support bodily eu-appearance.