The truth about meditation
Although I have been a fan of guided imagery for over 20 years, I really had very little experience with the general practice of meditation. I think growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I had a skewed impression it was very “out there” and not something I could or would find doable or meaningful in my life.
Well, I was so wrong! I think what began to crack my resistance was practicing and teaching Tai Chi. Since Tai Chi is, in fact, a form of meditative movement, I realized that meditation may be worth looking at a little more closely. Especially as it pertains to my RA Tool Box!
I took a workshop a bit ago entitled “Peace and Calm”, and despite the fact the actual workshop really did nothing for me, it DID give me a taste of meditating and led me to pursue a 21 day one that I purchased and now have in a permanent library to use over and over on all of my devices. I don’t want to promote a particular one. There are many out there to choose from. Suffice it to say I am thrilled with it!
In addition to the Tai Chi and the Peace and Calm workshop opening my mind to the notion of meditation, a good friend started Transcendental Meditation a year or so ago and I was intrigued by that as well. So all that said, I think I was just ready. Period. So often in our lives it is all about timing. Right place, right time, etc.
So what is it about meditation? Well, for me it has opened up a level of self-awareness and appreciation that I did not think was possible for me at the ripe age of 62. I was so wrong. I think there is no set age to start. It works no matter how young or old you are. And once you embrace the practice, the sky is the limit!
There are a few misconceptions I held for sure. First of all, as I already mentioned, I thought it was so existential that I would not be able to grasp the nuances. WRONG. It is a very open and inviting practice.
I also thought it involved a very specific set of expectations. WRONG. One of the many lessons I have learned while doing this, is that there are no expectations. The practice is very personal and any thoughts you have or approaches you use are just fine. That was so reassuring for me!
I wondered if it would just be too time-consuming for me to undertake. WRONG. You can do as little or as much as you want and still realize amazing benefits. I do about 15 minutes and not always on consecutive days and I have benefited greatly.
So, what are the benefits and how can it help those of us with RA? Well, first of all, it is a wonderful stress reducer. The calming effects of meditation that you have read or heard about are ALL TRUE! For those of us dealing with the realities of a chaotic and relentlessly painful disease like RA, anything that can give us peace is welcome and should be a strategy we employ. Meditation allows you to go to a place mentally that has no pain, no demands, no chaos.
Another benefit is that meditation is easy both as a mental practice and physically. You sit or position yourself in any way that feels comfortable. This not only relaxes you, but allows you to zero in on how best to address whatever discomfort you may be having at the point in the day.
One of the most amazing benefits has been how meditation has affected my day to day appreciation of all that surrounds me, from the environment to my friends and family. I think it is because each “lesson” opens up your mind in such a logical fashion to concepts we have long ago filed away or forgotten. They are there, but in our subconscious. Meditation brings those concepts back to a conscious level, allowing me to revisit and embrace them as daily practices. For instance, appreciating my external environment and understanding that it has a huge influence on my internal environment. I found that simply taking a walk on a glorious spring day I am now much more attuned to the sights and sounds. Colors seem more vivid, the air seems more electric and I am much more alert to everything I see, hear, smell and touch. That simple practice really does provide some respite from the demands of a chronic disease like RA.
Believe it or not, meditation also addresses health and wellness and has given me new perspectives on pain management as well as how best to approach my overall management of RA.
I am, in the end, so grateful that I chose to explore meditation. I had no idea the benefits would be so numerous or so influential in the management of RA. But it is. Consider trying it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When was your last flare?