Meditation is relatively easy to practice, in that all that is generally required is a quiet setting and some time one can set aside to focus. Many meditators enjoy how the practice encourages us to take a break during our busy day to relax and reflect.
Most of this discussion has focused on a form of meditation known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), due to the availability of scientific research on its effectiveness. Additionally, mindfulness has become an accepted practice in Western psychology. We note, however, that there are literally hundreds of different techniques one could use to meditate. Some individuals prefer spiritual meditation, which is grounded in a religious tradition. Others may prefer mantra meditation (in which a word or phrase is repeated out loud or in one’s head) or visualization meditation (when the meditator holds certain mental images in their mind). These are only a few of the various practices one could explore.
Meditation in a Spiritual Tradition
A patient who is interested in pursuing mindfulness as a tool for managing the stress associated with IBD should be aware that there are many different basic techniques. If you are interested in learning mindfulness within a particular spiritual discipline – Buddhism or Christianity, for example – you might consider taking a class from a trained instructor with a background in your faith.
Free MBSR Intro Guide
For those people who would like to get started meditating using the secular approach utilized at most medical centers and psychologist offices across the country, we have linked to a step-by-step guide offered by the University of Massachusetts Stress Reduction Program. Download a copy of the document that walks you through how to begin.
To date, we are not aware of any carefully designed scientific study examining the effects of meditation on the pain experienced by IBD patients. However, surveys suggest that MBSR may be beneficial for individuals in this patient population. Additionally, various patient surveys conducted by advocacy groups overwhelmingly report that IBD patients have a strong desire to try complementary therapies that may help improve their symptoms. As an organization, Food Rx will continue to look for ways to support and sponsor research into how meditation may benefit those of us living with IBD.
Generally, meditation does not pose a health risk for healthy individuals. However, when meditating, never stand up too quickly because dizziness may occur. Also, if you are taking medications, such as insulin, sedatives, or cardiovascular medicine, you may need to adjust your dosages. Finally, meditation is not necessarily recommended for people with personality disorders, such as schizophrenic, borderline, or narcissistic disorders.
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