By Claudia Kalb
For decades, Dalia Isicoff has suffered the agony of rheumatoid arthritis—joint pain, spinal fusion, multiple hip surgeries. Painkillers dull the aches, but it wasn't until she took a course at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine that Isicoff discovered a powerful weapon inside her own body: her mind.
Using a meditative practice called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, Isicoff learned to acknowledge her pain, rather than fight it. Her negative and debilitating thought patterns—"This is getting worse," "I'm going to end up in a wheelchair"—began to dissipate, and she was able to cut back on her medication. The pain hasn't gone away, but "I view it is an ally now," she says. "Mindfulness is transformational."