When you have a chronic physical or mental illness, negative repetitive thoughts may intrude on your everyday thinking. For over 25 years, I’ve contended with bipolar disorder and found that meditation can lessen the symptoms of depression and my obsessive thoughts.
Sitting or lying down for a good meditation session and channeling the obsessiveness into clearing your mind can help circumvent the thoughts. Sometimes I use a mantra like “Peace” when I breathe in and “Strength” when I breathe out and that can derail the negative thought-train. Usually, I sit in silence with incense burning to add another sensory experience that can help shift my thought pattern.
Meditation is great for coping with chronic illness. But, for those of you with a condition like chronic pain, sitting still and meditating can be difficult if not seemingly impossible. Thus, meditation can seem to be an impossible endeavor. Instead of sitting uncomfortably, you can lie down and get comfortable with a soft blanket underneath you. The key is to be comfortable but not so much that you fall asleep.
Being focused while meditating is important to receive real benefit from the endeavor. In traditional meditation, having a proper posture that keeps your back straight and enabling your energy to flow properly is the best approach. But, lying down with guidance and sometimes keeping your legs bent and your feet on the floor can keep you from falling asleep.
I find lying down more difficult as I’m usually fall asleep which isn’t helpful to my meditation as it’s not the focused attention (taking a nap is definitely not the same as meditating). I recommended that if you lie down that you don’t close your eyes but try to focus on a particular spot on the ceiling with your eyes half closed.
Some people I have taught meditation to find that meditating in silence to be too challenging. When I’ve worked with clients at a mental health clinic to teach them about meditation, I used melodic soundscapes to add a subtle sensory experience to add to the meditation (contact me through my blog or PM me on my Facebook site). For those of you beginning a practice, this is a great way to begin. In addition to its simplicity, soundscapes can transport you to unknown realms that aren’t associated with particular memories or life moments.
Something to think about when clearing your mind is that there your mind is never blank or free from thoughts. Think of it like a room that you want to unclutter or clean up. There are always going to be objects in the room, some of them you want there and you can ignore and other objects that intrude on your attention. There isn’t any perfect way to meditate – there will be moments when your mental room is clean and neat and other times your room will be distracting and messy.
If you choose to take on the meditation challenge (whether you have an illness or not), try to sit or lie down for 10 minutes a day. See if you can do it around the same time for at least five days in a row. I’ll be glad to help you personally and coach you through the experience. Having someone that you’re accountable to can help you stay on track.
In addition, if you can find some people to sit with and/or a meditation teacher, this can facilitate your practice more easily. I have also put some meditations on Soundcloud to help instruct you.
Feel free to also drop me a line if you take on the challenge. I’d love to hear about the challenges and successes you face or succeed with.