How Meditation Can Relieve Your Fibromyalgia Pain
People diagnosed with fibromyalgia often experience several painful and non-painful symptoms.
Some common painful symptoms are an overall chronic pain, headache, muscle tenderness and having flu-like symptoms.
Typical non-painful symptoms such are difficulty sleeping, problem concentrating, issues with the bowel movement, and feeling depressed.
The pain and discomfort caused by the fibromyalgia make them irritated and feel helpless.
If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, then you are not alone. There are over 8 million people in North America alone who are currently experiencing similar condition as yours.
As more people keep getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia condition that it is becoming a new global epidemic.
A report published Rheumatology International states that some fibromyalgia patients report that lack of mental clarity to be more troublesome than the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia condition.
How Brain Behaves in Fibromyalgia Patients
The brain functioning in fibromyalgia patient is no different than a healthy person but with a caveat.
Researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging and measured the blood flow changes in the brain of fibromyalgia patients and individuals with no such conditions.
Fibromyalgia patients reported higher sensitivity to the non-painful stimulants as compared to a healthy person.
Interestingly, the part of the brain which process visual, auditory and motor signals found to be highly active in healthy person than the one with fibromyalgia condition.
As per Marina López-Solà, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, the brain of fibromyalgia patients under-process the certain sensory information such as visual, auditory and motor signals which causes the fibromyalgia patients difficulty paying attention and listening.
But the brain also amplifies these signals afterward which causes person to react strongly for non-painful stimulants such as bright light, sound and even smell. (Source)
Other mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are also found to be common in the fibromyalgia patients.
Several side-effects of fibromyalgia medications such as Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Savella often exacerbate these conditions furthers while trying to suppress the fibromyalgia flare.
Meditation is an often misunderstood and underutilizes technique to get relief from the fibromyalgia symptoms.
Unlike taking prescription medicines which often has several other side-effects, meditation has no side effect and can help you calm your body and aid you to control your brain.
Interested in knowing how can meditation benefit you with your fibromyalgia condition?
Let's dig deeper into it.
The Ways Meditation Can Help You
A clinical trial on the use of meditation in women suffering from fibromyalgia condition showed a significant reduction in the stress, sleep disturbance, and other fibromyalgia symptoms.
Cortisol often called stress hormones, found to be at peak in fibromyalgia patients when they wake up in the morning and then it gradually goes down as day passed.
This increase in the cortisol level occurs 30-45 minutes after awakening and is termed as cortisol awakening response (CAR).
The CAR is believed to be due to transition from sleeping to waking and is found to be most severe in fibromyalgia patients. This is why it is helpful to do meditation early in the morning.
Research published in General Hospital Psychiatry, “The Impact of a Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program on Fibromyalgia” found the significant number of participants with fibromyalgia symptoms showed at least 25% to 50% improvements in their symptoms with meditation.
The meditation-based stress reduction program (MSBR) found to be more efficient than the standard treatment program for reducing the depression symptoms among women with fibromyalgia condition. (Source)
Although there are several benefits of meditation few observable benefits of meditation in fibromyalgia patients are:
- Reduced heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease in hyper-stimulated nervous system activity
- Fewer mood swings
- A drop-in depression and anxiety
Meditation Reduces Stress
Meditation is not only helpful for controlling the stress in the fibromyalgia patients, but it is beneficial to anyone who wants to control their mind and bring peace and tranquility to their life.
In our modern-day life, everyone is busy and have too much stress in their life which directly or indirectly impacts their health.
The stress can be of any form; it can be physical stress, emotional stress, or psychological stress resulting from anxiety or fear of unknown.
These stress hormones cause increased level of cortisol in the body. A small amount of cortisol is necessary for our survival as it stimulates the adrenalin but a large quantity of cortisol is detrimental to the functioning of the body.
Meditation is a useful tool in controlling the cortisol level. A study has found that those who practiced meditation have significantly reduced cortisol level. (Source)
Meditation Promotes Self-Control and Discipline
There is no doubt that fibromyalgia causes people depress, and the chronic pain made them bitter and frustrated most of the time.
These distractions cause loss of concentration, reduced productivity and affects overall mood and satisfaction from life.
By controlling back your mind, and training your brain to be in your control and not wander off and following the proper discipline will help you address several fibromyalgia symptoms.
How Should You Practice Meditation?
There are several ways you can start practicing meditation.
Keep in mind that when you initiate the training, you will not notice any visible difference.
In fact, you will have difficulty controlling your thoughts and the state of mind. You should start slowly by spending 10 to 15 minutes daily sitting quietly and practice deep and slow breathing.
Try to control your thoughts and do not let your brain wander off such as thinking about the work you have to do or your weekend plans.
If you start losing your attention, then focus back on your breath.
Don't overstretch yourself as your meditation goal is not to make the mind completely out of thoughts but controlling the frequency and intensity of the thought.
With regular practice, you will get better and then gradually increase the duration of your meditation and focus more on controlling your thoughts.
There are several ways you can further advance your meditation skill, and the easiest and effective ways are:
Mantra meditation involves chanting of a “mantra” or single sound word to keep you focused.
It is also known as Vedic or Yogic meditation. To perform this meditation, you should sit straight with spine erect, and eyes closed.
Keep repeating the mantra in your mind, silently and slowly over and over again.
You can also listen to mantra music while in a meditative state which often helps with your concentration as you have to focus on the rhythm of the mantra.
The origin of this meditation has roots in Chinese Zen Buddhism.
For doing Zen meditation, cross your legs and sit on the floor with a mat or cushion.
You have to keep your back completely straight, keep mouth closed and eyes lowered with your focus on the ground two or three feet in front of you.
That is the baseline posture, and now there are two different way you can practice this:
- Focusing on your breath: Feel the movement of your breath going in and out through your nose. Inhale a deep breath and count backward from number 10 as you release your breath. When you arrive at number 1, take a deep breath again and start from number 10 again over to count backward. Keep repeating this throughout the duration of your meditation.
- Silent Sitting: This is also known as Shikantaza meditation where you do not use any particular object for meditation but remains to be in the present moment. You are typically aware, and things are happening around you which you passively watch.
In this meditation, you focus on the present moment, kind of similar to the Shikantaza meditation, accept and remain non-judgmentally pay attention to your surroundings, senses, and thoughts.
You control your breathing and focus on taking a deep breath and try to make it go in a rhythm.
When you begin doing it, your mind will become distracted and you have to remain aware of it and bring your focus back to your breathing.
With some practice, you will be able to control your thoughts and be good at it.
That is one of the easiest ways you can get started with the meditation, and most schools and health services teach mindfulness meditation for beginners.
Meditation is very effective way to control your thoughts and found to be effective in providing relief from the fibromyalgia symptoms.
The primary cause of fibromyalgia condition is an imbalance in the brain. The brain becomes hyperactive toward external stimulants and misdiagnose non-painful stimulants to be as painful.
Some people associate meditation with a religious or cultural aspect which is far from the truth.
Although it is more profound in a certain culture, several scientific studies have clearly shown the benefit of practicing meditation in fibromyalgia patients.
Meditation not only reduces the fibromyalgia fog but also fights off the depressive symptoms. With active meditation techniques, you can improve your sleep difficulties, stiffness, and cognitive deficits including learning and memory problems.
If you have a fibromyalgia condition, then you should give it a chance as there is no side effect in case you do not see any benefit.
However, you will have a lot to gain if you do find that meditation helped you control your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Have you ever tried meditation for your fibromyalgia symptoms?
we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.
You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
Image Credits: Freepik and Pixabay