Meditating has long been found to improve one’s mental health, as well as boost the immune system. In my previous blog, I detailed the physical and mental health benefits of yoga, and how this great practice can actually prevent illness and depression. Now, let’s take a look at how different types of meditation can assist in controlling migraines and general headaches.
From a basic standpoint, meditation teaches you how to stay in the moment and focus on yourself, ignoring external distractions and concentrating on your breathing to induce a sense of calm and relaxation. There are many different ways to meditate and the following are just a few that are practiced worldwide:
- Mindfulness – This type of meditation stems from Buddhism and focuses on the concentration of one’s breathing, which helps you tune out the noises around you and be present in the moment, allowing your thoughts to escape you in the process. This translates to a better appreciation of everyday life, learning to accept things for what they are, find balance throughout, and understand different perspectives.
- Transcendental – Originating from Hinduism, those practicing this form of meditation repeat a word or phrase over and over referred to as a mantra. By doing so, you are able to block out distractions and achieve “restful alertness.”
- Vipassana – Another teaching of Buddha, vipassana means “to see things clearly,” which calls for meditators to focus on the connections between their bodies and minds.
So how does all of this help cure a migraine exactly? Meditation has been proven to aid chronic pain, and headaches and migraines are no exception. Numerous studies have shown patients experiencing chronic headaches or migraines who engage in meditation have a better handle on their pain tolerance and management.
While research is still being conducted on how exactly meditation heals the body physically, some suggestions include the nervous system benefitting from a lowered heart rate and lowered blood pressure, thus reducing stress. This has also led to the notion that meditation can directly affect brain waves as well. Because stress, tension, and anxiety are often the sources for headaches or migraines, mind-body practices could alleviate that pain by reducing stress levels overall.