In a world that bustles around all day, every day, making time to sit still and breathe seems counterintuitive — and certainly counterproductive. But meditation is one of the oldest and most effective ways to reduce stress, ease anxiety, and tame your muscle pain. Meditating can also enhance immunity, improve sleep, and reduce depression.
Meditation comes in many different forms, including transcendental, mindfulness, and Buddhist. Some may involve movement, such as yoga. Others require sitting without movement. Still others involve going through day-to-day routines in a more mindful manner. All types of meditation, however, have one goal: to silence the busy mind and to direct all attention to a single healing entity such as the breath, a mantra, or image. In a quiet state of meditation, your mind is in the present, not contemplating the past or the future.
For people who have fibromyalgia, meditation can induce a state of calm that lessens the pain. It can also help you assume more control of your condition. Andrea, who has fibromyalgia, credits her improved health entirely to her meditation practice.
For years, Andrea was popping ibuprofen and acetaminophen in a futile attempt to silence her fibro pain. She tried different exercises and became a vegan. But she credits her gradual recovery to meditation, a practice she began to cultivate five years ago. Gradually, she built up her practice to sitting twice a day, forty-five minutes at a time.
Although she still has flares and experiences pain, Andrea has become more adroit at coping with it. “It's not that the pain has lessened,” she says. “It's that I'm more in touch with how the sensations actually feel rather than the thoughts about them. I used to think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is killing me. What am I going to do?'When I stopped freaking out, I realized that the actual sensations are bearable.”
Anyone can learn to meditate. It's easy because it doesn't require any special skills, equipment, or clothing. On the other hand, meditation can be extremely difficult, especially if you aren't comfortable with the idea of sitting still. Some people find it easier to meditate in the company of others. For them, a class might be a good idea. But others prefer to meditate alone. Here's how you can give it a try:
Find a quiet place in your home where you can sit uninterrupted.
Sit in a comfortable position. You might prefer sitting in a chair or against a wall, or simply cross-legged on the floor. However you sit, keep your spine straight.
Begin by closing your eyes and gently breathing.
Pay attention to your breath as it comes in and goes out.
Do your best to focus only on your breathing. If thoughts do arise, acknowledge them, then go back to your breath.
If it helps, say a mantra, like “Om,” “Love,” or “Serenity” or a phrase such as “All is well.”
Start slowly by meditating for just a few minutes, then build up gradually to longer periods of meditation.
The goal of meditation is to simply be and not do. You want to quiet the mind of its constant chatter. Like anything new, this may seem difficult at first. But with practice, it will become easier.