Millions of people in the United States are affected by chronic arthritis pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are among the one in four adults dealing with severe arthritis pain, you’re definitely not alone.
As arthritis sufferers seek alternative treatments to deal with joint pain, some have turned to meditation as a way of helping them manage their arthritis-related complaints. What’s more, a recent Johns Hopkins study examined the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to lower symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. The study results were promising, and while meditation is not a quick fix, many people find it helps them feel better.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, a 2017 review of 38 randomized controlled trials found that mindfulness meditation “improves pain and depression symptoms and quality of life.” In addition, a study presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping in Switzerland found that breath-focused meditation significantly reduced pain activity in the brain.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. There are many different kinds of meditation, and each type has its own benefits:
- Mindfulness meditation focuses your mind on your experiences in the present moment. It can help you quiet your mind and increase feelings of relaxation, instead of focusing on negativity and the pain you are feeling.
- Progressive relaxation meditation is a technique that allows deep relaxation of your mind and body. It can help relieve stress, anxiety, and chronic pain.
- Breath-focused meditation allows you to focus your attention on the inhalation and exhalation of each breath.
- Mantra-based meditation focuses on a specific word or “mantra.” The mantra might be recited, kept in mind, or listened to.
If you’re brand new to meditation, start with 5 to 10-minute sessions at a time, and try to be consistent. It’s difficult to turn meditation into a habit if you practice it once or twice. To quiet your mind and tune out the outside world, the Arthritis Foundation suggests that you focus on your breath, a flickering candle flame, or a simple mantra or word.
When you start meditating, it is completely normal for your attention to wander. If this happens when you start your meditation practice, simply notice it without judgment, and bring your mind back to your practice. Guiding your attention away from the noise of your mind takes time, and this is an important goal during mindfulness meditation.
Chart Your Progress
If you try meditation and you’re not sure if you’re benefiting from it, remember that meditation should focus on progress rather than perfection. If you want to develop a regular meditation practice, create some reasonable goals for yourself.
Remember that meditation is called a “practice” for a reason. Like yoga, it takes time and patience to improve your focus and make meditation feel effective for you. Although meditation does not replace medications or other arthritis treatments, it is an excellent addition to these therapies. A consistent meditation practice can also teach you valuable coping techniques and lower your stress as an added bonus.
It’s normal for meditation to feel a bit strange when you’re first starting out. Fortunately, there are several meditation books, challenges, and resources to help it become a consistent habit that helps you cope with arthritis pain.
Contact the experts of Flexogenix™ to find out how to deal with arthritis pain and prevent it from affecting your busy lifestyle. There’s no need to let arthritis symptoms stop you from being active and enjoying the hobbies and activities you enjoy every day.