• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Meditation – Think it’s just for monks?

Think again. Here are 5 ways that meditation goes beyond the spiritual to improve your health.

Search meditation in Google images and you will be flooded with mystical monks watching sunsets and crossed legged figures with hands on knees and thumb and index fingers touching.

symbolfigur für meditation

Images like this lead to misconceptions about meditation. Below are a few commonly held myths.

“Meditation is a religious practice.”

Meditation doesn’t have to be linked to any religious beliefs or even spiritual ideas.

“I have a spinal cord injury and I can’t sit like that, so I can’t meditate.”

Meditation focusses on the awareness of the breath in and out of the body and fully experiencing the present moment. Breathe is the only prerequisite. Everyone can meditate.

“Meditation has no real health benefits.”

Research shows that there are real health benefits for those coping with illnesses and injuries.

Keep reading to find out 5 proven health benefits of meditation. Plus 4 DOs and DON’Ts for getting started today.

rollstuhlfahrer meditiert im park

If you have a mind, you can meditate.

5 proven health benefits

#1 Reduces stress in the body

Our body automatically deploys mechanisms in response to stress from perceived threats. This response triggers physiological effects which are useful when we need to escape from danger. These include increased blood flow and metabolism as well as the production of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone.

Exposure to ongoing stressors, however, such as dealing with a spinal cord injury or chronic stress from work, can result in this response happening too often. This can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Meditation has the potential to reduce this ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response in the body by channelling attention to the present moment. This means less perceived threats and in turn less stress related health problems.

arbeitsstress

Meditation can help cope with stress from work or injury.

#2 Strengthens immune system

Research suggests that meditation boosts the immune system. Stronger immune function could be especially beneficial when living with a spinal cord injury, another good reason to give meditation a try.

immunsystem

The production of white blood cells, which helps the body fight disease, may be increased through meditation.

#3 Improves sleep and focus

Meditation has also been shown to improve sleep quality and people with insomnia. Better sleep also leads to better focus. If you struggle with your sleep, you might want to try out regular meditation.

schlafen

Meditating can help those with insomnia.

#4 Anxiety control and decreased depression

Meditation can aid in reducing negative emotions and feelings of anxiety. It could be used as a positive tool to deal with daily life stressors. Meditation has been found to have the potential to change the part of the brain that may be responsible for depression.

depression

Use meditation to deal with negative feelings.

#5 Improves pain tolerance

Researchers have investigated how meditation may alter the way the body perceives pain by changing our brain’s sensitivity to pain. This could prove to be a helpful supplemental tool for those struggling with debilitating pain from an injury or illness.

gehirn umschulen

You can retrain your brain.

4 DOs and DON’Ts

#1 Be in a comfortable seat

DON’T lay down as you may be tempted to fall asleep.

DO find a comfortable seat in a space where you won’t be disturbed. Your wheelchair is perfectly fine, too.

rollstuhlfahrerin im park

Find a seat in a garden or local park.

#2 Pick a time

DON’T leave it to chance.

DO find a designated time in your day to practice your mindfulness mediation. Having a set time will make you more likely to stick to it until it becomes regular part of your routine.

tagesagenda

Schedule a time to meditate each day.

#3 Keep it short

DON’T try to meditate for 30 minutes or more at first.

DO start with 5 to 10 minutes. That’s enough to be effective.

stoppuhr

Even 5 minutes a day can have benefits.

#4 Use an app

DON’T feel overwhelmed. Guided meditation is a great way to start.

DO use a meditation app like Headspace. It’s a great guide for beginners and is available in English, French and German.

iphone mit apps

There are many meditation apps available for free.

Do you practice meditation? If so, what has your experience been? If not, would you be willing to try it out?

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