My experience with meditation

I have found meditation and guided relaxation helpful in my own recovery.  I started looking into meditation a couple of months into my PVF/ME/CFS after reading positive posts from other sufferers about how it had helped them.  I had plenty of time on my hands and nothing to lose.

I started with podcasts from the mental health foundation website, which I downloaded to my mp3 player.   Most of these tracks were about 10 minutes long, so it was not too daunting to sit or lie still for that long.   However, at first I found my mind was incredibly distracted, and although physically I was able to sit reasonably still I frequently tuned out from the meditation and into my own thoughts.  Sometimes I would only realise this had happened when the track finished and I had no idea what had been said.

I read that the important thing about meditation was to do it regularly, so I did not allow my distraction to discourage me, but committed to doing a meditation daily.  Slowly I got a bit less distracted and began to be able to listen to more of the track.

Over time I started to look for different tracks to give me some variety and I began to listen to longer guided relaxations.  You can find links to meditations I’ve found helpful on the resources page.

In April 2012 I began attending my local NHS CFS/ME service.  My occupational therapist identified from activity diaries that I was doing too much activity, so my first goal was to increase my rest.

We devised a timetable of rests that would fit into my daily routines, and I focused on ensuring I did these rests.  I was now resting 4 times a day for 30-60 minutes at a time.  I used guided meditation at nearly every rest, to ensure I got to a relaxed state and got the maximum benefit from these periods.  My dizziness and orthostatic intolerance increased, and I had to spend most of my time lying down, so I changed all my rest/meditation to lying down.

I found details of a local Buddhist Centre where they ran drop-in meditation sessions and meditation courses.  I was interested in attending these, but at the time I could not drive, nor sit up for very long.  It became a goal to attend one of these sessions.  Over the summer of 2012 my condition improved (I have discovered my body does best in the summer and on holidays).  This enabled me to start driving again and I started attending the drop-in meditation sessions.   Here, I was taught 2 types of meditation: mindfulness of breathing and Metta Bhavana (the development of loving kindness) and I finally learnt to meditate without the guided meditation tracks.

Mindfulness of breathing was just what I expected meditation to be about.  You focus on your breath, and when you get distracted you return your focus to the breath.  It’s simple, but not easy.

The Metta Bhavana meditation (development of loving kindness) meditation is very different to the mindfulness of breathing.  It focuses on developing feelings of loving kindness first towards yourself, then towards other people.   I found this incredibly difficult at first, but quickly realised that I needed to be kind to myself and that much of my self talk was not kind.  By practising this meditation I have changed, not suddenly or dramatically but gradually and incrementally.  My self-talk is now much kinder.

I have built a daily habit of silent meditation, although I confess it is often only on week days, as trying to find a peaceful corner of the house for meditation at the weekend is challenging.  I still attend the Buddhist centre, I find meditating in a group really helpful.  I also recently did a meditation course which has helped my understanding of the practises.

If you are interested in learning this type of meditation then a great website is http://www.wildmind.org/ .

I plan to keep meditation in my life going forward.  I recognise that as I am able to do more it will be more challenging to find the time to meditate, but I think it is something that is worth spending time on.

Other pages you may find helpful

2 responses to “My experience with meditation

  1. Great post Sarah. Meditation has helped me too. I have never tried the loving kindness type of meditation. That sounds really interesting. I will give it a go!

  2. Thanks Louise. Let me know how you get on with the Metta Bhavana (loving kindness) meditation. My changes occurred gradually. With meditation it seems to be that consistency of practise is more important than one great session.

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