Do you hold stress in your body? Perhaps in your neck or pelvic/hip muscles? Meditation has been shown to help relax muscles and decrease pain perception by up to 25%. It can help to decrease your need for medication or at least optimize the way the medication works. For chronic pain, guided meditations seem to be most effective, but everyone is different and can change over time. Try some of the tips below to see what works for you.
“Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth.”
“Meditation benefits people with or without acute medical illness or stress. People who meditate regularly have been shown to feel less anxiety and depression…Meditation produces and state of deep relaxation and a sense of balance or equanimity…Meditation facilitates a greater sense of calmness, empathy and acceptance of self and others.”
(Definition from the free Dictionary)
- Quiet sitting or standing
- Moving Meditation
- Qi Gong
- Tai Chi
- Prayer Labyrinth
- Mindfulness Walking
Some people who have a very active mind prefer to start with moving meditations. Whatever form you try, the ultimate purpose is to non-judgmentally observe your body, mind and spirit and accept whatever is happening without trying to fix or change anything. During your meditations, you can try some of the following techniques:
1. Guided Meditation
- Vocal Guidance
- Musical Guidance
- Tonal Guidance
2. Self-visualization (you are the guide)
- Review each of your 5 senses one at a time to observe what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. without judgement, excuse, or qualification.
- Review how you are feeling. This can be a review of each part of your physical body, your emotional state or mental focus or all three. Go slowly one at a time, again without judgement, excuse, or qualification.
- Visualize light or heat moving from one part of your body to another and as the light or heat passes through an area, the area warms and relaxes.
- Repeat a soothing phrase, a core value or a dedication for your day, syncing it up with your breathing.
- Take deep breaths focusing on your breath by counting your inhales and exhales to make them deep and even.
- Learn about the goals of meditation. There are many books and videos dedicated to the topic of meditation.
- Try a guided meditation on a phone app initially to learn more about the process.
- Figure out which type of meditation suits you.
- Try using visualization of light or heat for moving relaxation through your body.
- When first starting out counting your breath or repeating short phrases or mantras can help with concentration
- Initially make sure that the room temperature, lighting and space is comfortable for you.
- Consider aromatherapy and/or candlelight if that relaxes you.
- Practice every day at the same time. Length of time (10 min versus 1 hour) is less important than routinely practicing at the same time of day every day.
- Start every meditation with stillness, deep breathing and awareness of your surroundings.
Once you have moved towards your goal in the meditation process, you may find that you can try other forms of meditation. For instance, you may have such an active mind or active household that quiet sitting meditation does not seem possible. Start with a short moving meditation using a light or heat visualization of energy moving through your body. Once your mind becomes calmer and more focused (this can take months to years), you may find that standing or sitting meditation is now possible.
- Meditation modulates your sympathetic nervous system and activates your parasympathetic nervous system promoting relaxation, a calm mind, focus, concentration and decreases the emotional ups and downs.
- It is a practice so dig in and practice every day.
- You will be surprised in a few weeks to months how you will be able to tap into that calming sensation of your parasympathetic nervous system when you need it during your day.
- The ability to calm your mind and body will transform your life.