Living is hard. It's is a lot of work and it is sometimes just exhausting and painful. However we are all blessed with this opportunity to experience life and even though for some of us, it is physically difficult, this opportunity to love and create shouldn't be missed.
After turning 40 something changed and for the first time ever, I started experiencing anxiety issues. The first time it happened I honestly believed I was going to die. Yeah, it's a common reaction, but still, something that you won't ever forget when it happens to you. I wasn't upset about anything, it just came on hard and fast and left me feeling spent. The first few times it happened I was terrified until I began talking to other people about this experience.
The older that I got the more common anxiety issues became. Some were triggered by stress, direct issues, and others were random and just as frustrating. My attacks are painful, centered in my back and chest. Everything hurts and my hands shake so hard. It's awful. Sometimes even thinking about an attack makes me fearful of starting them again.
Through the years I've practiced various forms of yoga, meditation, even subliminal suggestion music. All of it helps, but you have to remember that these are tools for your health and wellbeing and if you don't use your tools and keep them sharp, they aren't useful to you.
Using The Mind to Sooth The Body
When you use your mind in intentional ways to soothe your body, you access the brain's healing abilities. Your brain is capable of recovering from anxiety and depression with training to teach it how to self-soothe and correct. Studies have been done where scientists are looking into the effects of mindfulness training on depression and comparing it to taking an antidepressant without the harmful side-effects.
When the mind is stressed, the body follows. Anxiety and depression FEEL terrible, even more, when the body is stressed, you are more inclined to succumb to illness.
How many times have you been sick and all you can think of is how badly you feel? I know sometimes myself when I am feeling really bad, it is hard to break the mental repetition of “I'm so sick. I feel terrible. Blaaah!”
Ruminative thinking, which is thinking the same thoughts over and over, actually can make you “feel” worse when your thoughts are circling around and around about your physical condition. But if you can apply the practice of mindfulness even when you are feeling your worst, it is possible that you can break the cycle of pain/illness's mental effects. If you can step outside of your physical thoughts and refocus to shift away to a more constructive thought pattern, your physical symptoms won't be as severe.
The more you meditate, the better you get at letting go of negative thoughts and you are able to refocus quicker so you can mitigate anxiety and depression. Both of which make living with a chronic illness even harder.
Chronic Pain and Meditation
Living with day to day pain can be excruciating. There are times when I feel like I don't want to keep living every day in this kind of torture and it is hard to see that there are days when I feel great and there is so much more to life than pain. What if we can navigate away from Pain Thinking and actually relieve our physical pain?
The British Journal of General Practice concluded that people with chronic pain linked to a variety of conditions (including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic musculoskeletal pain) may benefit from mindfulness meditation. It's all about the way the mind perceived pain. Teaching people how to cope with pain without medication can reduce the opioid crisis and the damaging toll that medications take on the body. The body's own opioid system produces chemicals like endorphins that physically make you feel better. We need to be better at allowing our bodies to help us.
Basically, if we can train our minds to activate pain reduction through meditation, we can move through pain experiences easier. If we can let the judgment and reaction to pain pass and move our thoughts into a calm state, we can reduce our own pain.
What else can be soothed with Mindfulness?
We need more research to be clear, but there is evidence that said that we can work with our bodies to settle headaches, ADHD, even blood pressure. What if we can improve our quality of life by just thinking it better?
We know that meditation can decrease the physical reactions to stress. What if we were able to also use it to lessen inflammation that is increased with stress, or heart conditions? Whenever you can decrease stress, you are going to improve your health.
There are studies looking at the effects of meditation relating to cancer, heart disease, and being able to lengthen your life.
Rock Garden Cairn Statue, 22 Inches
from: Buddha Groove
Living In the Moment To Live Better
I don't need a long perfect life. I WANT a life where I can live better, without the drag of pain and anxiety reducing me to a tearful mess who is bedridden and old beyond my years. If learning how to stop and get in touch with my surroundings, if learning how to let go of the fear and dread can bring me better health can change my quality of life? What do I have to lose?
Emotionally separating from the pain and discomfort is difficult, which is why most people give up quickly. Mindfulness can't be something taken lightly, it has to be a lifestyle change, like any diet or change that forces you to rethink what you've been doing.
The idea that you can bring your attention back to the moment, to the simplest thing like your own breathing, can help you to live better is amazing. I want that life, I want that change! Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to take your feelings out of the pain moment and see it for what it is and move on? When you embrace mindfulness, you embrace the idea that you can change your response to stress, pain, and basically life.
I'm in, are you?