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We’ve all heard the phrase “mind over body”. What does this actually mean? In researching methods for my own healing, I’ve read a lot about meditation to promote physical healing. It is well known that meditation promotes well-being and psycho-spiritual health, but what about actual physical symptoms and disease processes? It turns out that meditation can promote physical healing and relief from chronic illnesses. As always, please note that this article is not medical advice and you should always see your doctor for healthcare issues.
Meditation for physical illness and symptoms can result in improvement. Although the science is relatively new, current thought is that meditation improves self-regulation and emotional regulation. In turn, these changes can result in improvement in physical health. For example, mindfulness meditation has been found to improve pain by triggering pain control areas of the brain. The idea is that the brain accepts meditation as pain therapy.
Meditation for physical health relies on a deepening awareness of your body and changing how the brain perceives the illness or symptom. When beginning meditation for physical health, do not expect immediate results. It takes practice and discipline and patience. Experiment with different techniques in order to determine which one works the best for you. One popular meditation type is the “Body Scan” for pain relief. The following steps from are from Mrs. Mindfulness. This website is a dedicated to mindfulness.
Here are the steps for the Body Scan- Time requirement is about 20 min.
The first step involves setting yourself up for your practice. Choose a quiet and comfortable place you can lie down. You don’t want to be distracted so let others know not to disturb you for the duration of your meditation. Turn off your phone or turn it to silent. Maybe even hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door.
After you are comfortable turn your awareness to your body. Feel the parts of your body that are in contact with the surface on which you’re lying. Also notice the position your body is in. Mentally examine your body for any areas where there may be tension—the shoulders, the jaw, the stomach. See if you can consciously release or soften those areas of the body so that you can be totally relaxed.
The third step is a decision to let go of the past and the future, let go of thoughts, and to be fully engaged in the present moment. Here you focus your awareness only on your body and let everything else drop away. You make the decision that whatever you do encounter while examining your body will be met with a sense of ‘friendliness’.
Basically, what that means is that you allow whatever you encounter to be as it is. You aim to meet it with equanimity and not to judge or label certain parts of the body or treat painful body parts as an enemy.
The fourth step is the actual “scan” part. With your mind, you scan—or turn your attention—to each part of your body, one at a time. You may start with one foot and give it all your attention. Feel into the whole foot. Notice any sensation of temperature. Be aware of any fabrics that may be in touch with the skin or the point where the air meets the skin. Any sensations are welcome. Does it feel heavy or tired?
Don’t start engaging in thinking about it though- Simply aim to be aware of the sensations here. Continue the scan, moving your attention progressively up one leg and then the other, then to the torso, back arms, head and neck, focusing on part by part, one at a time.
The fifth and final step is to become aware of the entire body as a connected whole. Bring awareness to your entire physical body and maintain that awareness for a few minutes. Feel the body from within. Again, aim to stay fully present. There is no need to think about the body. Simply feel into it.
In addition to the steps above- you may find the following video helpful.
I hope that you find meditation for physical health and symptom control helpful. I will be incorporating meditation techniques for my own physical health and will be discussing how well it works in future posts.