If I had to pick just one thing that has helped the symptoms from all three of my disorders the most, I’d choose meditation. I can see some rolling their eyes, getting ready to click away or getting uncomfortable about this suggestion. But… let me assure you that I was just as skeptical when it was first introduced to me.
About 35 years ago, my husband at the time left me for another woman when my daughter was 6 months old. I thought I would crack up. I sought out the help of a local counselor who first help peel me off the ceiling and in later sessions, began teaching me biofeedback. Meditation was one of the first things I learned. I was in so much emotional pain that I would have stood on my head if he said it would help. As my very wise daughter always says, “We move at the speed of our pain.”
Meditation manages my Ehlers-Danlos pain fairly well most days because I cannot take any pain meds except Tylenol, yet my joints dislocate daily. It helps me handle many of the mast cell reaction symptoms. When my heart speeds up when I stand due to the Dysautonomia, I can slow it right down with meditation. But most importantly, on days when I have symptoms of all three disorders slamming me full-force, meditation allows me to feel calm even with all that chaos. I rarely get riled up and my husband will attest to my calmness through the most crazy events. I mostly feel an inner peace that is tranquil and beautiful.
Even if you have tried meditation in the past unsuccessfully, I encourage you to try again. One of the biggest problems new meditators come up against is trying to meditate for too long. I’m going to share my thoughts for adding meditation as your symptoms relief:
- Start with 1 minute a day. When you have comfortably managed one minute, add another minute. Don’t rush it; this is not a race. When you get to 5 minutes a day, rejoice! There is no magic time. I like to meditate for at least 15 minutes, but after all these years, I can get so into it that 40 minutes may go by. Remember, I have been doing it for years.
- There is no one type that is better than another. I have practiced many different kinds over the years. I presently practice mindful meditation, simply sitting in silence and focus on your breath and being aware of thoughts coming and going. Many prefer guided meditations in the beginning. I always recommend BellaRuth Naparstek. She is amazing! You can trial different types of meditation until you find one that feels right for you.
- This is a picture from Mindful magazine that clearly explains posture. The most important thing is to be comfortable, but not lie down and fall asleep.
- Initially, it is helpful if you can make a space to meditate. It can be a simple as one pillow on the floor, or a chair in the corner of a room. Having a designated place at first helps your mind to switch into meditation mode as soon as you sit there. Here’s a pic of my meditation corner in my home office.
- The most important advice is to make it a habit. Just like you brush your teeth every day, fit meditation into your schedule in a place that’s doable. The way adding a new habit works best is to tack it on to an existing one. For instance, if you have time in the morning and shower in the morning too, meditate right after your shower… or right before.
I will share other types of meditations in future posts. Until then, 1 minute is all you need to start. Oh, and the one thing I want to assure you, the goal is NOT to have an empty mind. It’s to quiet down enough to observe. Peace and calm to you…