How to Meditate for Arthritis
Regular meditation practice can help ease arthritis symptoms.
Meditation is called a practice for a reason. Getting the hang of it requires time and patience, and there is no end point. But the best benefits for arthritis come with regular practice.
Andrea Minick Rudolph, a meditation expert and therapist based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suggests people start with a guided practice, either in a group setting or by using a book or recording. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Keep it brief. Start with a few 5- or 10-minute sessions a day. “Practicing for a few minutes throughout the day to add up to one hour is just as effective as meditating for a full hour,” says Mark Thornton, a New York City-based meditation teacher.
Be consistent. Daily practice is best. But if the idea of meditating daily feels too overwhelming, Thornton recommends shooting for every other day. Once you feel the benefits, you may want to step up your practice.
Adjust your focus. Bring your attention to something specific – your breath, a flickering candle flame, a simple mantra – anything but your to-do list. Notice when your attention wanders and without judgement, gently guide your mind back to your focus. It doesn’t matter how many times you must redirect yourself. Learning to steer your attention away from the endless stream of thoughts is the basic goal of mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation also helps you quiet the mind, promote relaxation and let go of negative thoughts and feelings about pain.
Do what feels right. There are many different forms of meditation or mindfulness-based practices, including yoga-based meditation, contemplative walking, deep breathing exercises and chanting. You’re more likely to stick to with the one that feels most comfortable to you, Rudolph says. If you simply want to sit quietly and focus on positive thoughts, that’s meditation too.
Remember, meditation is about progress, not perfection. So, set reasonable expectations for yourself. Nothing can completely take away arthritis pain or symptoms, but regular meditation can help you learn to cope with them more effectively.
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