If you’re not an arthritis sufferer, you can only imagine how people with arthritis deal with the pain and stress brought about by their disease. Most experts believe that meditation could actually help in your battle against the pain, stress, and depression that most often accompanies by having arthritis.
Sometimes, not all diseases or illnesses can only be cured by taking medication. Most often than not, not allowing the pain to define our life, can change how we relate to the pain. This is where meditation comes to the scene.
What is Meditation?
For centuries, meditation has been one of the oldest and proven practices in increasing calmness, physical relaxation, relieving depression, improving psychological balance, coping with illnesses, and enhancing the overall health and well-being of a person.
There are four major ways of doing meditation. These include the following:
- Meditation should be done in quiet places with only a few, or much better, no distractions
- People doing meditation should have a comfortable sitting, walking or lying down posture.
- In doing meditation, your focus of attention should only be on a single object, a specific word or set of words, a specific body part, or just your breath.
- People doing meditation should have an open mind and attitude, not letting the thoughts come and go and judging them easily.
Aside from the benefits, it brings to people who have arthritis, meditation has lots of benefits even to all other aspects of life as well as to other types of illnesses. Here are some of the many benefits of meditating:
Meditation helps improve your concentration
People who meditate at least once each day are proven to be more centered and more focused on everything they do. They don’t usually get distracted even by a series or a number of things around them. A study also suggests that meditating also helps improve one’s ability to multitask a lot easier than those who don’t meditate. The increase of focus and memory are part of the many benefits brought about by meditation.
Practicing meditation helps increase one’s self-awareness
Meditating can help you recognize your own anger and eventually become more and more detached from that negative feeling. Meditation can also help clear your mind and calm you down. It will help you increase your self-awareness. Thus, you will become more control of your emotions and your overall feelings.
Doing meditation can help increase acceptance
Meditating helps you explore your inner self more and learn to accept things which cannot be changed. It will change how you feel about life and help make your life become more enjoyable.
Meditation slows down aging
Numerous studies suggest that doing meditation changes the brain physiology which in turn slows aging. Certain hormones or part of our body that involves the aging process tends to reduce when one meditates.
Practicing meditation can help boost the immune system
Meditating helps induce the relaxation which in turn increases the body’s compound nitric oxide that is responsible for the blood pressure to drop. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that 40 out of 60 total high blood pressure patients stopped taking blood pressure medications right after they started doing meditation.
Meditating increases one’s happiness
The specific part of our brain cells which are responsible for the person’s positive emotions is increased when one meditates. Additionally, when one is meditating, the brain cells responsible for all our negative emotions decreases, thus, promoting a more happy and enjoyable life.
How does meditation work?
Meditation could actually help people who have arthritis by taking control of the pain and symptoms which could be brought by depression. A scientific study proves that mediation is beneficial for those people who are living with chronic pain and stress.
A study published in 2017 in Annals of Behavioral Medicine claimed that doing mediation helps decrease the pain and depression brought about by different illnesses including arthritis. Furthermore, the authors of the said study concluded that meditation could actually improve the quality of a person’s life.
The same study which was presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of Organization for the Human Brain Mapping in 2016 concluded that practicing meditation which is more focused on the breathing exercises has a significant effect in reducing brain-activities related to pain.
Additionally, JAMA conducted their randomized controlled trial which was published in 2016. Their research found out that a mind-bind therapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT could actually relieve different types of back pain as well as better in alleviating pain compared to the usual care alone.
Before actually trying out the forms of meditation you would like to try, make sure to first consult it with your doctor, especially if you are under a specific or certain medication supervised by a chiropractor or a bone doctor.
A typical meditation lasts for about 5 up to 10 minutes per session. You do not have to consume an hour to do the meditation in just one sitting. However, if you can, start with a few sessions each day gradually.
Consistency is the key. Practicing meditation daily is the best. However, if you feel like meditating daily feels a bit overwhelming, then you may try to meditate every other day. In the event that you can already feel the benefits of meditating, then that’s the point where you may want to increase your practice.
Adjusting your focus is also important. Focus your attention on just a specific something, it can be your breathing, a simple mantra or even a flickering light. Try not to think of your to-do list when doing meditation. Do not let your mind wander. If it does, gently and carefully guide your mind back to your focus. You must know how to steer or keep your attention away from all the thoughts which might possibly come into your mind.
Types of Meditation for Relieving Arthritis
Below are some of the meditation techniques that are proven to relieve arthritis.
Originally came from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Tonglen meditation is considered as one of the oldest forms of meditation. Its long history of helping out conditions which have been mostly considered by many as hopeless have actually helped a lot of people. Most of the conditions that were proven to be improved by the help of Tonglen meditation include leprosy, AIDS, and arthritis.
In doing Tonglen meditation, you first need to be in a relaxed and comfortable position as much as possible.
- First, you need to breathe deeply and slowly.
- Put your attention on your breathing.
- Now, start to feel the exact location of your pain or the part of your part where you want to work with.
- Where does the pain start and how up to long does it extend?
- What does the pain feel like?
- As you breathe in, breathe in the pain and everyone’s pain in this world who is also experiencing the same pain you feel at the moment, You may want to visualize the pain as a dense, heavy, dark, toxic substance.
- As you breathe out, say or whisper a prayer, a thought or anything you wish to say for the kind of remedy you and everyone else who is experiencing the same pain you feel. Try to visualize it as a tar-like substance which is being released in thin light or wispy smoke and eventually heals everything it touches.
- Continue this breathing exercise as long as you want to and as long as you are able to do so.
In doing meditation, one doesn’t need to be in a dim light room or sit in a lotus position.
You can also do meditation even when you are in your shower, walking in a park, while waiting in line at the supermarket or even while washing your dishes.
This can be done through the use of active meditation.
- Active meditation can be done by focusing intently on all your body movements and all the sensations you will feel.
- Rather than listening to music through your headphones while washing the dishes, why not breathe deeply and then feel the actual warmth of dishwater covering your hands and then smell the scent of the detergent and as listen to the different sounds of the dishes as they clank together.
- Continue doing this process to create active meditation.
Guided imagery or sometimes termed as guided meditation is a form of meditation that is done in a gentle manner yet the techniques used are much more powerful. The types of techniques used can be as simple as an athlete’s five-second dive right before leaping off the board. It can also be in a complex manner such as the busily focused buzz of immune cells trying to destroy all the unsuspecting cancer cells. That is how guided imagery or guided meditation is being described by many.
- Sit in a relaxing and comfortable position.
- Listen as calming voice guides you to visualization.
- The voice that guides you will help you in focusing your attention on a beautiful and relaxing scene.
- It can also be a scene where you experience a healthy body and state of mind.
- This will help you harness your thought powers to induce a better physical health.
- The idea of guided imagery is to envision your pain as it recedes and you eventually will achieve it.
This practice involves using of mantras or chants for at least 15 minutes each day. In the early 1960s, transcendental meditation has been incorporated to some schools and universities as well as in corporations in the United States, Latin Americas, India and Europe. Since then, this type of technique has been included in numerous numbers of both educational and social programs in every part of the part.
This type of meditation can be performed in the morning or even at night. It is being practiced by more than 5 million people all over the world because of its simple and effortless technique.
- Sit in your most comfortable position.
- Close your eyes for about 20 minutes.
- Settle your mind inward. Move to a more quiet level of thought until you are able to finally able to keep silent and peacefully aware.
- Doing this type of meditation will help you transcend all the mental activity you have into an open state of consciousness.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness-based stress reduction or commonly termed as mindfulness (MBSR) is commonly used in hospitals as part of their program in quieting thoughts. It is a form of meditation where a nonjudgmental and loving way is being used to view pain.
When you are feeling a painful feeling or sensation in your knee or any part of your body, you will acknowledge it.
You won’t need to label it as a negative effect, rather, you accept it.
- First, search for a good spot at your home or in your apartment. Avoid spaces where there is too much clutter. Find a quiet, peaceful and clean open room.
- Leave lights on or you can sit in a natural light. If you opt to do the meditation outside, make sure to select a place with little or no distraction at all.
- Be there for few minutes. Feel your breathing. Feel all your senses. The air that moves through your nose or and mouth. The movement of your belly or chest. The breathing in and breathing out.
- Inevitably, you will wander and leave your “current” state. Do not worry as there is no need for you to rush or block and even eliminate something. If you found your mind wandering around, gently return back the attention to your breathing.
Yoga breathing is also one of the most common forms of meditation. When doing yoga breathing, you will need to start and end your day to day with a single session of focused breathing.
In most yoga classes, the term used when using all the breathing techniques is called Pranayama. Pranayama also means to control breathing. Breathing exercise is a big part of all yoga practice. It is also a useful tool in a day-to-day life of a person.
Before starting to do Pranayama or yoga breathing, you must first need to relax and take a few deep breaths before and even after the exercise. Once you get dizzy, just simply stop the breathing exercise for some few minutes, and then return to the breathing process if you are able.
- First, sit in your most comfortable position.
- Inhale for five seconds.
- Afterwards, inhale for seven seconds while focusing on your breathing.
- Do not let your mind to wander. Focus on just your breathing.
- If your mind wanders, carefully and gently bring back your attention to your breathing.
- Do this for at least one every morning and once at night.
Other forms of medication which might help in relieving arthritis pains
Did you know that losing weight could actually create a big impact on your arthritis pain? The amount of pressure on your joints could feel a lot worse because of the extra weight brought, especially in areas such as the hips, feet, and knees. By losing weight, you will be able to improve your mobility, prevent any future damage to your joints as well as decreasing the pain you are experiencing.
Getting enough (or even more) exercise
Regular exercise has lots of benefits other than just losing weight. A person’s regular movement can help in maintaining the flexibility on the joints. Instead of doing heavy and weight-bearing exercises such as running or walking, why not try a low-impact form of exercises such as water aerobics or even swimming so that your joints will be flexed without the thought of adding further stress to your arthritis pain.
Hot and Cold Treatments
Using cold and hot therapies could also help relieve the pain brought about by having arthritis. In the morning, a simple warm shower or bath could make a difference as it helps ease the pain of stiffness in your joints. At night, you may also try using an electric blanket or a pad with a moist heater so that your joints will keep loose.
Applying cold treatments are also proven to be effective in relieving joint pains caused by arthritis. Wrapping an ice gel pack or a bag of frozen veggies wrap in a towel and then applying it on the painful part of your body could help relieve the pain, the swelling, and even the inflammation.
One of the earliest and oldest forms of Chinese medicinal treatment is using acupuncture. In doing acupuncture, thin needles are being inserted into specific body parts or points of the body. These thin needles are supposed to reroute all the energies and restore the balance of your body. According to the WHO or World Health Organization, acupuncture is considered as the most well researched complementary therapy which treats over a hundred million forms of different conditions. World Health Organization even recommended this form of treatment because of its numerous benefits.
If you want to pursue trying this form of treatment to reduce the pain of your arthritis, make sure to find a licensed and qualified acupuncturist in your area.
Yes, including the right type of fatty acids in your daily diet can actually help reduce the pain and stiffness brought by arthritis, study suggests. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as those that are supplements of fish oil, could be one of the best treatments for your arthritis pain.
The next time you cook food, make sure to add turmeric to your dishes if possible. Turmeric is a common an Indian yellow spice which contains curcumin. Curcumin is a chemical which proves to help reduce the pain of arthritis. It is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, perfect to those who are in pain of arthritis and other joint related problems.
Getting a Massage
Did you know that according to Arthritis Foundation, regularly massage arthritis joints could help deduct the pain and stiffness in the joints? Also, it is proven to have improved the range of motion of a person who has arthritis. If you are planning on getting a massage on your particular part of your area, especially the affected joints, make sure to consult with a licensed physical therapist or a massage therapist to avoid further damage if done incorrectly.
The herbs you typically buy on the supermarket claims to have a great part in reducing joint pains caused by arthritis. These types of herbs include the following:
- devil’s claw
- thunder god vine
- stinging nettle
Just make sure to talk to your doctor first before trying these herbal supplements. Especially if it is your first time to try these new supplements or if you are on a specific or particular drug medication.