Meditation may relieve arthritis pain, help you sleep better and even lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, research shows. But the idea of sitting cross-legged for an hour or so keeps many people from even trying. You can add a little quiet time to your life without fuss.
Meditation comes in many forms. In studies, as little as 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation for just three consecutive days helped ease pain and anxiety.
Meditation can lower your heart rate and blood pressure while decreasing cortisol and adrenaline levels. It can help you regulate your emotions and relax, says Dan Muller, MD, a mind-body researcher and rheumatologist at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine in Madison. Meditation reduces pain by changing how you processes the fear and anxiety that often intensify it, says Amit Sood, MD, of Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program in Rochester, Minn.
Ready to give it a go? Try these tips from Natalie Bell, a mindfulness and meditation instructor at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
- Get comfy. Wear comfortable clothing and sit in a supportive chair or other comfortable place.
- Choose your anchor. Focus on your breath, noticing how it feels as it flows through your nostrils and expands your chest, or think of a calming word, like “peace,” to help you focus.
- Sit quietly, pay attention. When your mind starts to wander, don’t judge your thoughts or try to quiet them; just take note of them and bring your focus back to the anchor. Do this for five minutes each day. After a few weeks, increase the time if you like.
Books, podcasts, videos and apps offering instructions and guidance are widely available. Prefer in-person help? Many medical centers, community colleges and universities offer classes that teach stress reduction and mindfulness meditation.
Author: Polly Campbell
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- Meditation: Benefits for People with Arthritis