Updated: May 17
Meditation & Manifestation
Benefits for People Living with Chronic Illnesses
There are so many proven benefits of meditation and mindfulness that are helpful for those of us living with chronic illnesses. Meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress, lower anxiety, help to treat depression, improve your sleep, help manage pain, calm the nervous system and enhance your self-awareness.
Meditation is a set of techniques that focuses your attention and heightens your sense of awareness. This is a practice that helps you become an impartial observer of your own mind. Most meditation techniques involve directing your awareness to one area of focus to gain calmness, clarity, and awareness.
There are many types of meditation — There are ones that focus on gaining clarity, expanding your awareness, calming your mind and body, experiencing inner peace, and so many others... Here are some examples:
Mindful Meditation – Mindfulness meditation combines meditation with the practice of mindfulness, It is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. Mindful meditation can help you manage stress, pain, and anxiety.
Visualization Meditation – Guided imagery or visualization meditation combines visualizing something positive while you meditate. The aim is to focus your thoughts, calm you down, and reduce stress and pain.
Breathwork Meditation – Breathwork meditation involves using a type of breathing exercise to change your breathing pattern and relax your mind. It’s sometimes used with mindfulness meditation to help you focus.
Body Scanning Meditation – With body scanning meditation, you mentally focus on your body from head to toe. The aim is to notice everything about your body, relaxing each part of your body as you scan them.
Metta or Loving-Kindness Meditation – Practicing sending yourself kind thoughts and warm attention to the parts of your body that are in need of extra care or cause you pain.
Mindfulness is the simple act of paying attention, noticing and being present in whatever you’re doing. When you are being actively mindful, you are noticing the world around you, as well as your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, movements, and sensations. This means being conscious and aware of whatever you happen to be doing, at that moment. For example, mindfulness may look like this:
Directing all of your awareness to the sensation of your muscles as you move them.
Feeling the sensation of hot water on your skin in the shower and noticing how it feels on your body.
Directing all of your awareness to the sensations you feel in your body, whether it be warmth, tight muscles, pain, tingling, or other feelings.
Sitting quietly and listening to all the sounds around you in your house, listening to your kid's play, your animal's play, family members talking, or sounds of the house.
Go on a walk or sit outside and direct your awareness to take in the world around you, take in the sounds from the neighborhood, listen to the birds chirping, observe how the sun feels on your face, or how the breeze feels against your skin.
Essentially, to be mindful is to be intentionally engaged in the present moment. You’re not thinking about the future or focused on the past. You are in the present moment, trusting your perception and accepting the way things are. You’re just simply aware of everything at that single moment.
Studies show that mindfulness not only supports your mental well-being and your ability to cope with pain, but it also aids your body in healing and long-term recovery, and over time can even slow the progression of chronic illness.
Mindfulness and Meditation can also help lower stress, anxieties and mental fatigue. Research has shown meditation can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and reduce chronic pain.
Mindfulness helps you to develop an acceptance of your pain. Rather than waking up in the morning and anticipating that your entire day will be impacted by pain, mindfulness allows you to observe your pain non-judgmentally, manage the pain, and build an understanding that pain does not define you. Rumination and negative thoughts or attitudes may amplify the impacts of chronic pain. Using techniques such as meditation, you can focus your thoughts, in a more controlled manner, on other thoughts that do not revolve around pain or the experience of pain. This brings about a sense of calm and control in situations while living with a chronic illness where you can lose that sense of calm and being in control.
It is thought that meditation can help people focus on positive elements of their lives, further reducing the perception of pain. This puts you back in control of the pain you experience, rather than being controlled by it. Even a brief amount of meditation can have long-lasting benefits for pain relief. Learning how to access a place of calm and ease while staying kind and compassionate toward yourself when you are experiencing pain or discomfort can have a big impact.
Meditation can influence the stress responses within the body, which in turn can have a positive effect on your overall health and reduce the impact of some symptoms from your chronic illness.
Meditation also helps to change your perspective, helping you gain coping techniques that aid with the challenges of living with chronic illness.
Mindfulness and meditation are great coping techniques and practices to have in your chronic illness toolbox. Try what works for you and experiment with different meditation and mindfulness styles and techniques until you find one that you are most comfortable with and helps you gain acceptance and perspective of your pain. Remember, there are no guarantees with how it will work for you. Mindfulness is about bringing balance back to the system and helping nature with healing if healing is possible.
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