Chances are, if you have or suspect that you have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or any ongoing, painful condition, you have heard about meditation as a way to reduce pain symptoms. The benefits of regular meditation are well documented but many of us still have difficulty working meditation into our daily routine. I’d like to try to change that for you, because I have seen a major benefit in my fibromyalgia pain levels after incorporating a meditation practice.
First, ease up on yourself and realize it is called a meditation “practice” because that is exactly what you will be doing. There is no PERFECT meditation. You don’t have to sit on a special pillow with your legs like a pretzel and a beatific smile for hours a day. The goal is to set a consistent time each day (at least 10 minutes, 20 is even better) to slow down your breathing, relax your muscles and drop out of the harried pace of everyday life.
Most of us run around like our hair is on fire, rushing from one “must-do” task to another and that puts us in a constant state of “fight-or-flight” which causes all kinds of problems in our bodies and our brains and results in the #1 cause of all pain and illness–the big S, STRESS. The antidote to all this? Meditation.
Meditation is powerful because it addresses stress in three specific areas: physical, mental/emotional and spiritual. When these three are off-kilter, you can guarantee your fibromyalgia pain will be cranked up to top volume. Soothe these areas and the pain greatly reduces, and often subsides. Now, do you think you can find 10 minutes a day to meditate? If you are in the kind of pain I used to be in, I think you can!
Here’s how to start:
1. Set aside a sacred, consistent 10-20 minutes per day
That means NOTHING interrupts this time. Unless someone is bleeding and you need to save a life, you commit to stick to your meditation plan. Many people choose first thing in the morning so they can tick this one off the list before the busyness of the day starts and begin their day in a healthy direction.
2. Find a quiet, pleasant corner where you can be alone
This may be outside, or it may be in bed, or it could be a special little corner you set aside in a room in your home or office. You can keep it simple or dress up the space with fragrant candles, essential oils, mood music, whatever feels relaxing and inviting to you. Important part is, when you are in this space meditating, you make it clear you are NOT to be disturbed. Phone ringer off, mobile stowed away, door closed, disconnected.
3. Get comfortable (sit or lie down) and be aware of your breath
Simply observe the breath going in and out and with each in-breath say silently, “I’m breathing in love and positive energy” and on each out-breath, “I am breathing out tension and stress.”
4. Progressively relax each muscle from head to toe
After concentrating on getting into a relaxed breathing pattern, focus on one part of the body at a time, relaxing each muscle from head to toe. Take your time and really let go of all tension in that area before going on to the next area.
5. Consider taking a mindfulness meditation class or using a guided meditation audio
Some people, myself included, do best with a voice guiding my meditation, set to background music. There are several great meditations offered online, some for free and some for purchase. I particularly like www.Zen12.com because they offer affordable guided meditations for the entire year (1 per month) that are around 12 minutes long and the British gentleman who does the narration has a lovely, hypnotic voice. Experiment to find what works for you.
What is your experience with meditation? If you meditate regularly, what effect has it had on your mood or on your pain? Please share by commenting below.