Meditation Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Since Fibromyalgia causes mood issues & memory problems aside from chronic pains of muscle and joints, meditation can be a complementary treatment to deal with the disorder. Though meditation won’t make the pain disappear, it will help you find focus, open up to positive thinking and relax. It can also ease the stress and anxiety that can be familiar for people with Fibromyalgia.

An important part of managing a chronic condition like Fibromyalgia has to do with managing the emotional component of your life.  There can often be stress, anxiety, fear and grief for what has been lost or the limitations that you have to learn to live with.

Meditation can be a very effective way to be fully aware of the emotions you are feeling, acknowledge them and then learn to let them go.  It can also help people with Fibromyalgia as attacks and flare-ups are often related to the degree of stress in your life, so a meditation practice can help you reduce and prevent these.  Meditation can also help boost your mood and improve your perception of your quality of life, and some studies have even shown it to have an effect on reducing pain and the subjective perceptions of pain.

Meditation is free and can be done at home; doesn't require special equipment or products and there are no negative side effects.

What You Can Do Right Now

How to Select a Good Meditation Teacher

Meditation is often taught in a group setting, though one on one teaching is also available.

One of the first factors to consider is the type of meditation you want to try, and then a second consideration will often be scheduling Once you have found a set of classes that fits with your schedule, many teachers offer drop-in sessions where you can experience a taste of the classes to see if they suit you, though the teacher should be able to give you a rough idea of what to expect before attending.

Many teachers will ask what you hope to get out of the classes and you should feel free to tell them your aims to see if the class is a good fit.

Be wary of practitioners who offer guarantees of achieving a particular state of mind or ‘enlightenment’. Everyone’s experience will differ and genuine practitioners will recognize that they cannot realistically offer guarantees.

If your teacher is assigning homework, this is a good thing! Meditation becomes easier the more you practice so spending time working on techniques at home is essential to developing your practice. 

History of Meditation

The practice of meditation dates back into prehistoric times. The earliest known references to meditation are found in Hindu scripts from India dating from around 1500 BC and refer to meditation as an already ancient practice. Around 500-600BC Taoists in China and Buddhists in India began to develop meditation practices.

Trade along the Silk Road allowed meditation to spread through the Far & Middle East. The first meditation hall opened in Japan in 653AD and by the 12thcentury Sufi Islam included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words. It has also been suggested that interactions with Indians or the Sufis may have influenced the Eastern Christian meditation approach to hesychasm, but this can not be proved. Between the 10th and 14th centuries, hesychasm was developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.

Despite being a widespread practice in the East, it was not until the 20thcentury that interest in the practice became widespread in Western societies. Many researchers and professors in the 1960's and 1970s, learned of the multitude of benefits that meditation had to offer as they began testing the effects of it. 

Theory behind Fibromyalgia Treatment using Meditation

Research shows that meditation can help people who suffer from chronic pain; it can also help to elevate your mood, relieve stress and improve your quality of life.  The biggest impact of meditation for people with Fibromyalgia comes from its ability to reduce stress and the way that stress can exacerbate Fibromyalgia.  Meditation has also been shown to improve sleep patterns and increase energy.

Physically, meditation lowers the leveels of cortisol in your body (cortisol being a stress hormone), while mentally it helps you to relax and gain a sense of balance and peace.  It can help you to reduce or eliminate anxiety and the fear of pain that is not yet present.  The benefits of meditation can work together in a virtuous circle to improve your quality of life and reduce the severity and frequency of pain.  Meditative practices  can lessen the aches, sleeplessness, muscle pain, and depression experienced by people with Fibromyalgia.  

Research of Fibromyalgia Treatment using Meditation

A protocol and pilot study for managing fibromyalgia with yoga and meditation (2011)

Summary: This study presents the results of a preliminary eight week study using yoga and meditation to help manage Fibromyalgia symptoms. All eleven participants showed significant improvements in their overall health status and reductions in their symptoms of stiffness, anxiety and depression. Significant improvements were also seen in the ratio of "good" days to "bad" days and in the number of days of work missed because of Fibromyalgia. The study concludes that this data "supports the benefits of yoga and meditation for individuals with fibromyalgia..."


Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice (2010)

Summary: This study compared changes in bodily pain, health-related quality of life, and psychological symptoms during an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program among groups of participants with different chronic pain conditions. Because participants had a variety of chronic pain conditions, the results differed in significance and magnitude across those pain conditions. The researchers found benefits but also found that the effects on pain, quality of life and psychological well-being varied depending on the chronic pain condition and also on the subjects' compliance with their home meditation practice.


Mindfulness meditation for symptom reduction in fibromyalgia: psychophysiological correlates

Summary: This study was following up on a previous study that showed that meditation did reduce depressive symptoms for people with Fibromyalgia. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of meditation (or mindfulness-based stress-reduction) on the basal sympathetic activation for women with Fibromyalgia. The practice of meditation was found to significantly reduce the basal electrodermal activity and the SCL activity (which is consistent with reduced basal sympathetic activation). The study concludes that "In this small sample, basal sympathetic activation activity was reduced following mindfulness-based stress-reduction treatment." The significance of this is that the sympathetic activity is what causes many of the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia.


Stories of Fibromyalgia Treatment using Meditation

If you have used meditation for fibromyalgia please share your stories here.

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