Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in numerous cultures throughout the world. The definitions of meditation are as varied as the forms of implementation. In general, whatever the technique, meditation is considered to be a contemplative act that quiets the mind and promotes relaxation and calmness.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the relaxation induced is thought to open up energy channels and allow blood to circulate without obstruction through all the organ network systems. The body-mind connection is believed to help balance emotions. Emotional imbalance is considered to be a major cause of disease.
White Light Meditation to Release Chronic Stress
Breathing is thought to be an essential part of meditation as it affects the autonomic nervous system and helps switch the more stressful sympathetic nervous system (fast) to the more relaxing parasympathetic nervous system (slow). Breathing deep into the “dan tien” area two inches directly below the navel (belly button) is believed to help cool down the fire energies in our body, strengthen our kidneys, and contribute to longevity.
For those of us who suffer from migraine disease, chronic stress can drain our energy and lead to adrenal crisis. Meditation, coupled with deep abdominal breathing, can be helpful in regulating our response to stressful situations, as well as in aborting and preventing migraine attacks and strengthening our kidneys.
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A simple visualization meditation I learned from Dr. Mao is called “White Light Meditation” (Secrets of Self-Healing):
1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and breathing deeply and slowly, picture a white light or clear mountain spring flow down to your abdomen.
3. As you exhale, visualize the white light, or water, run down from your abdomen to the soles of your feet and drain out.
Repeat the sequence for ten minutes and as often as necessary. I practice this meditation whenever I feel a tightness in my head, a change of pressure in my head, or sense a migraine on the horizon.
Stress-Release Meditation to Maintain Emotional Balancing
Another meditation I learned from Dr. Mao is a stress-release meditation (“Meditation for Stress Release” CD). I practice this meditation on a daily basis to maintain emotional balancing, and if I wake in the night and cannot go back to sleep because of an active mind:
1. Sit or lie down on your back in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply into your abdomen, repeating the word “calm” with every exhalation.
3. Then, beginning at your temples and the sides of your face, breathe in and as you exhale say the word “calm” as you relax your facial muscles.
4. Repeat the procedure saying the word “calm” on every exhalation as you move down from the neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers.
5. As you reach your fingers, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your finger tips.
6. When you’re ready, breathe into your face and again repeat the word “calm” as you exhale.
7. Continue the sequence as you move down through your throat, chest, abdomen, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet.
8. As you reach your feet, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your toes.
9. When you’re ready, breathe into the crown and back of your head and once again repeat the word “calm” as you exhale.
10. Repeat this routine as you go from the back of your head to your neck, upper back, lower back, back of the thighs, calves, and heels.
11. When you reach your feet, picture all the tension leaving your body through the soles of your feet.
12. Return to your abdomen and breathing deeply into the “dan tien” position, rub one hand over your abdomen in a clockwise motion thirty-six times; then repeat in a counterclockwise motion for thirty-six times to restore energy.
13. When you’re finished, rub the palms of your hands together until you feel heat; then place them over your eyes.
14. As the heat disappears, bring your hands down over your face.
It’s interesting to note that numerous studies have shown meditation to be an effective tool in reducing stress, controlling blood pressure, and managing pain.
Looking Back and Glimpsing Ahead
In TCM, treatment of migraine disease focuses on the adjustment of yin-yang energies and the regulation of the smooth flow of chi, blood, and moisture in our liver-gallbladder, kidney-bladder, and spleen-pancreas- stomach networks. Therapy is customized to fit the individual and can include a combination of diet, herbs, acupuncture, acupressure, InfiniChi, therapeutic massage, mind- body exercises, and meditation.
Now let’s apply this information to our wellness plans. First, take a look at mine:
To balance my yin-yang energies and decrease my liver fire and the accumulation of damp phlegm:
• I avoid hot and spicy foods, refined and processed foods, those with additives and preservatives, fermented foods, most dairy products, rich and creamy foods, fatty and greasy foods, and stimulants.
• I eat a well-balanced diet of organic fish, chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and a small amount of lean red meat, pork, cheese, and eggs.
• To open blocked channels in my body and promote the smooth flow of chi, and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of my nervous system, I have acupuncture treatments every six to eight weeks, which also help to relax tense muscles in my neck and shoulders, stabilize my serotonin levels, and relieve my pain by boosting my endorphin levels.
•I practice the meditations I’ve shared with you on a daily basis to abort, and prevent, the frequency of my migraine attacks.
Now it’s your turn. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself, “What do I do, apart from take medication or herbs, that helps me to reduce the frequency and severity of my migraine attacks?” If you have come up empty, you need to do some serious thinking about changing your diet, lifestyle, and stress reduction techniques.
On the other hand, if you have identified and made an effort to avoid your triggers, partake of a healthy diet that avoids most of the foods and beverages that increase liver fire and damp phlegm, and participate in a regular exercise program that doesn’t deplete your adrenal hormones, you might want to consider incorporating some therapies like acupuncture, meditation and others.
©2013 by Sharron Murray, MS, RN. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Migraine: Identify Your Triggers, Break Your Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life: An Integrative Self-Care... -- by Sharron Murray.
Migraine explains how to: * Identify headache types and triggers; * Break the cycle of medication dependence; * Create a self-care plan that combines eastern therapies (yoga, meditation, biofeedback, and reflexology) with conventional western medical approaches (physical therapy, chiropractic) to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks and achieve wellness. The author looks closely at both Eastern and Western medicine to help readers understand their unique headache patterns and minimize, or abort, migraine attacks.
Click here for more info or to order this book on Amazon
About the Author
Sharron Murray, a migraine sufferer herself and a former faculty member at Cal State Long Beach, has over 25 years of teaching and consulting experience in the critical care arena. She has spoken extensively on topics related to critical care nursing and physical assessments of adults, and has published in numerous professional journals. She lives in Central Washington. Visit her at www.sharronmurray.com