Can Meditation Help with Migraines?
December 28, 2017
When you hear the word “meditation” you might imagine a yogi on a mat, eyes closed, with a babbling brook soundtrack playing in the background. While this type of meditation does exist, this doesn’t have to be the picture that comes to mind.
More and more non-yogis are being drawn to this practice as a way to improve their health – and studies are starting to stack up in support.
People are turning to meditation as a way to treat problem areas like anxiety, depression, and even as a way to combat migraine pain.
It might seem far-fetched, but there could be something to this method. One study in particular showed that migraine sufferers who practiced meditation for 30 minutes a day had less migraines than the control group. On top of that, the duration of their migraines was an average of 3 hours shorter than the control group (Oaklander, 2014).
According to the American Migraine Foundation, brain wave and imaging studies have shown how mindfulness practice can actually modify brain structure and activity. This could include “promoting thickening of cell-containing layers of the brain, and modifying activity in a positive way in certain brain regions” (Mindfulness Meditation for Migraine, 2016).
Another great aspect to practicing meditation is the fact that it can be done at home, on your own time, free of charge.
It might seem overwhelming to start if you’ve never tried meditating before, but it’s easy once you know what to do. Here are a few tips to get you started along with a quick meditation exercise to try.
Start by sitting on a comfortable chair in a quiet room with the lights dimmed. (You may find it enjoyable to add quiet, gentle music with no lyrics.)
Close your eyes. Try to clear your mind and push away extraneous thoughts. Whenever a stray thought comes to mind during the course of your meditating, just push it gently aside.
Remember to focus on your breathing. Before you begin each step below, take a deep breath in lasting three seconds. As you complete each step, exhale for three seconds. These deep breaths should come from your diaphragm, causing your stomach to rise and fall with each breath.
Start with one big, deep breath in and out.
Focus your attention on your toes and imagine a tingling sensation there. Relax your toes.
Focus your attention on your calves. Relax your calves.
Focus your attention on your thighs. Relax your thighs.
Focus your attention on your abdomen. Relax your abdomen.
Focus your attention on your shoulders. Relax your shoulders.
Focus your attention on your neck. Relax your neck.
Focus your attention on your chin. Relax your chin.
Focus your attention on your cheeks. Relax your cheeks.
Focus your attention on the spot right between your eyebrows. Relax your eyebrows
Allow yourself to notice any thoughts, feelings or sensations that come to mind.Don’t analyze them, just note them. You’re simply paying attention, not thinking of them as good or bad or trying to think more deeply about them. Do this for five minutes.
Focus your attention on your toes. Imagine a tingling sensation there. Relax your toes.
Continue focusing on the parts of your body until you reach the spot between your eyebrows. Once you do, you may either start at your toes again or open your eyes and end your session.
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