“Buddha was asked, ‘what have you gained from meditation?’ He replied: “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
I have a ‘tool box’ of things I use to manage pain naturally and not allow the illness to affect my life. My tool box is quite large but I will give you a few examples of what helps me the most: exercise, yoga, distractions, eating healthy, bringing my attention away from pain and onto something I love, therapy, planning, letting go of anything that does not serve me, sleeping at least seven hours a night, not over doing things/taking breaks, focusing on my health before the opinions or judgements of others, and finally meditation/mindfulness. Out of all of the above what do you think was/is the most difficult for me? MEDITATION. I practiced everything above for over a year except meditation. It seemed every time I tried (tried is a key word here) I only thought about pain. I thought: “Crap, I cannot do this, I have to go distract myself with something active.” I hated it. I felt like it make managing pain more difficult and I ignorantly thought I did not have the time to practice meditation. I also thought meditation truly meant just laying down in silence with a candle and breathing with my eyes shut. After many attempts of ‘meditation’ I gave up.
About a year or so later, I discovered yoga nidra. I was in a yoga class and my pain level was high as I did not sleep well the night before and was going through a tough time that was causing me a lot of emotional turmoil. My instructor at the time said: “Jessica, we are going to do something different today. No offense, but you look too drained and tired to do a vigorous yoga session. Let’s try some yoga nidra.” I replied: “Yoga what?” I trusted this person immensely and was too tired to argue so followed her directions. She gave me a blanket and pillow along with my yoga mat and just asked me to close my eyes and breathe with my belly. I was not thrilled but it did feel good to lay down. She put in a CD and the first thing I heard was: “Welcome to yoga nidra, the meditative heart of yoga. Over the next few……” BAM! I fell in love with the practice of yoga nidra. I bought my own yoga nidra CD and practiced at home when I was extremely tired. It took me five tries until it just worked: something I cannot even explain. I remember opening my eyes after what seemed like two minutes and realizing I had been ‘asleep’ for thirty minutes. I felt weird, mildly drugged, and then invigorated like I had just slept for an entire night. If I had to recommend one thing to ever buy to help manage chronic pain naturally, it would be a yoga nidra CD. After a few months, I began looking for other meditation CD’s that were not related to yoga nidra. Barnes and Noble used to actually sell CD’s (it wasn’t always a toy store in the back) and I went there and found the coolest meditation CD’s. I am not the type of person who can just lay down and listen to the clock tick while practicing meditation: I may get there at one point in my journey but it is not one of my goals per say. I need guided imagery. I need to listen to someone guide me through a meditation. Some are so fun: I have one that takes you to space, the ocean, the mountains. All I have to do is lay there and do deep belly breaths and follow along. It takes practice but it isn’t work. There is nothing to try and do and you cannot expect a result: life and/or meditation just does not work that way. You have to make it fun. And you cannot give up after just five tries. Over time you will notice the affects but do not think about that: enjoy finding cool meditation CD’s and getting cozy in your favorite room and just breathing as you go to the moon or rainforest. I resisted meditation for a long time so I understand why people do and to be honest should practice it more. I am a very Type A, go go go girl, clean freak, anxious, excitable, enthusiastic person who has chronic pain. If I can practice meditation, anyone can. Do yourself a favor: get on Amazon and buy yourself a yoga nidra CD.