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Hello all. Need some perspectives if you'll share. I have always been fascinated by meditation, but always been hopeless at it so far. I know it's a very Western view to look for a goal in meditation, and I get that meditation is a goal in itself, but what are we doing it for? Is it to reduce anxiety? Is it to calm the CNS? Is it to imagine healing? Do you repeat affirmations, or just monitor your breath and empty the mind? Do you listen to guided meditations, and where are those meditations guiding you? Are you seeking to transcend your body, or experience euphoria?

What are you doing it for, and what do you think are possible best outcomes from regular meditation practice?

Thanks,

Loz.
Hi Lozza,

For me, meditation is about reducing the stress response that seems to be so linked with my MS symptoms. A psychologist who occasionally speaks at conferences for me explained the link between adrenal overload and the immune system - she is convinced that stress, or the fight or flight response directly causes immune system stimulation and inflammation.

I attended a beginner's meditation weekend around 4 years ago run by a non-religious organisation called Acem Meditation. Acem was developed in Norway by psychologists and medical doctors who believed that meditation could have health benefits for stressed-out Westerners. Acem teaches meditation based on the silent repetition of a basically nonsense word (chosen for its specific effect on brain waves) for 20 minutes twice per day. You are instructed to never speak the word aloud or use it when you are not in your meditation space at your meditation time. The idea is to try not to "contaminate" your meditation stimulus with context (as would happen if you spoke the word aloud, in conversation, with another person, who you work with, after a rubbish day, that has stressed you out, because you've been treated unfairly, by your boss, who doesn't know what they're doing, etc, etc..... Do you see where this is going?) to make it easier to get into your meditative state.

I have a small spare room that I have painted white where I go only to meditate. I can't always reach a meditative state easily (or even at all) but I feel refreshed and calm when my quiet alarm gently brings me back. It has even changed the way I drive - I used to sit in traffic swearing at the lorry in front, whereas now I find myself thinking about where the driver comes from, what his day has been like, whether he is happy, etc. It's been a really quite profound change.

I can't tell you that my MS has improved since I started meditating, but I believe I cope better with stress which does mean my symptoms don't flare up at the slightest thing.

I hope this is helpful...

Take care,
.
Lozza,

I have had MS for over 20 years, have never taken any meds for it but do follow a Swanky/Jelineky diet. I also keep my vitamin D level near to the top of the normal range, exercise, etc. I b.e.h.a.v.e. I do not, however, meditate because it irritates me. LOL This dismays some of my fellow travelers a bit but, hey, it works for me.

I do think that it is important we all find ways to relax and put our troubles aside. For me, taking a good walk achieves that end much better than that irritating meditation.

All in all, I think finding a way to relax is what is important. There are different methods for different folks, I guess. Jelinek probably disagrees with me but that's good. The two of us agree on almost everything so a little disagreement is refreshing.

Best wishes. I would say that if you just like meditating then you maybe need to find another way to relax.

Rebecca
Lozza,

you're definitely trying too hard and expecting something. For me, it makes me better able to tolerate the strange pains and sensations. If you want, I'll send you a link to download an absolutely practical, non-spiritual, wonderful explanation of mindfulness.

I am more relaxed, my mind is clearer and I can tolerate life more easily.

Alex
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Thanks for the comments folks, I hope others chip in. so far it seems that you are just focussing on a word or breath and trusting that is enough to calm your body sufficiently to feed through into calming the CNS and help cope at other stressful times. The problem I have I suppose is that whilst I can readily calm myself during a meditation session, I don't find it helps at other stressful times. My big problem I suppose is ruminating on matters that are hurtful to me, I experience mental turmoil, and I can feel the effect on my body almost immediately. I'm not sure that meditation is the answer to that, unless you are effectively meditating non-stop which perhaps is where mindfulness as a way of life comes in.

If it is acknowledged that stress can cause the onset of MS as well as exacerbations, and MS in itself is a highly stressful condition (apart from whatever else may be happening in your life) then it is very important to avoid a spiral of despond.

In fact, it seems crucial to maintain a cheerful disposition, whatever your symptoms, because feeling worked up about them can potentially just feed the disease process.

EEK. I'm not sure meditation can achieve all that. I suppose I've always been a bit introspective (which you have to be a little to be into meditation). Perhaps I need a personality transplant...

By the way. I've read that feelings of euphoria can be an MS symptom. Can anyone relate to that? It seems you need to be a bit happy, but not euphoric, which could just mean progression! ;)
Hi Lozza,

I'm not really into the meditation - although I found "Wherever you go, there you are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn a useful read and I sometimes focus on my breathing to stay calm (normally breathing in through the nose while I count to 3, breathing out through the mouth while I count to 5). I've previously found this helpful if I've been getting frustrated doing up a button, or (warning - too much information!) if I've been struggling to urinate. I rarely get those problems these days. The stress response to those kinds of little annoyances is definitely unhelpful and makes matters worse; the calming exercise can make getting things done much easier. I haven't done meditation for longer periods - although my new house is just down the road from the north-west centre for buddhist meditation and they run beginner classes on meditation in general, so I should probably drop in and give it a go.

I agree with Rebecca that generally having some way to relax is probably the key thing. For some people that's meditation. For others, they might achieve a similar sense of calm through gardening, or walking in the countryside, or running. I certainly notice that running has an almost meditative effect on my mind - maybe something to do with being alone outside in the fresh air and falling into a steady rhythm of movement?

If I get the problem of hurt/angry thoughts buzzing around in my mind, I find it can help to write them down, and make a list of things to do to make things better. I think other people might find other creative outlets. Again, the longer I've been on the OMS programme, the less I've had to deal with this.
I have a suggestion: Start doing yoga. You will feel great physically and there is a meditaion component.
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Thanks Alex, I never could get into yoga, I've always found it painful and aggravating. Although I used to do Tai Chi and loved it. Unfortunately we are a bit 'out in the sticks' where we live, 30 minutes to the nearest little town, so I am limited in the activities I can get involved with. Meditation seems to be the ideal. It's free and doesn't involve travel, I just need to get a bit clearer about what I should be doing. I do a progressive muscle exercise/meditation that I do find relaxing, and which helps me sleep, so I guess that's a start.
Hey Lozza,

Hope you are well. I thought I'd give you my journey with spirituality and therefore meditation.

I remember doing guided meditation when I was a teenager with a monk and it was really good at settling me-at least for that hour! So i wasn't completely new to the idea after I read George's book.

I decided to get guided meditation podcasts and I am currently using 'learn to meditate-meditation podcast' they are free to download and are from an australian group. I thought they were really good once I got over the guys speed of talking. However, as all he does is give you a picture and then leaves you to run with it, I feel I'm learning how to meditate myself and not just relying on a guided meditation.

I am a Christian and my faith has been low, so since reading the book, I have also started listening to the bible each day- again a free podcast. I listen to this on my way to work. I also have started to listen to worship music too.

With all this, I have a noticed and so has my husband that I am calmer and a lot more relaxed and forgiving of people and my general love for all has increased dramatically. I can not answer which part of what I'm doing is helping the most, I do know though that looking back over only about 30 days there has been a major positive change in my life.

Give the podcasts a try for a fortnight and see if there is a difference. I once heard it only takes 14-21 days to change from having 2 tsp of sugar in your coffee to none, because your brain learns very quickly to like what you are giving it. Based on that it may only take 14-21 days to 'get the grasp' of meditation.

Laura
That's a good tip. I'd tried meditating before with a book and never quite did it. But audio has made a big difference.
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
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