A health problem is your body’s way of saying, “I’m out of balance.”
And it’s likely to be accompanied by negative thinking, sadness, anxiety and/or nervousness. When you get sick, your mind is as affected as your body is. And you can’t actually meditate if you can’t direct the mind. So if your mind is all wrapped up in the suffering of being sick, it’s going to be hard to think about sitting on a cushion and directing your mind. So, how do you meditate when you’re sick and how can meditation help with your sickness?
Let’s answer these questions in order.
Brings You Back Towards Balance
First, whether you’re sick or not, in order to meditate, the mind has to be directable.
If you’re too weak or tired to focus, or if the mind is too active to keep stable on one thing, meditation is not going to work. You have to spend a little time preparing the mind before meditating. You have to do things that help the mind become directable.
Since a directable mind is a symptom of balance in your overall system of mind, body, and emotions, you can ask the other parts of your system to behave as though they’re already balanced. For example, you make the breath a bit longer and smoother. As you do that, the rest of your body will be brought towards balance and that balance will allow the mind to be a bit more directable. Other yoga techniques like āsana and chanting, etc. work in a similar way of encouraging your system to move towards balance.
This also begins to answer the second question. As your system moves towards balance your physical and other issues will also be positively impacted. This is not the same thing as being healed, but it will certainly help improve your overall sense of wellness, and that is important to help your body aspire to heal.
The more you can influence your system towards balance the more optimized it will be to healing.
Keeps You Calm in Worst-Case Scenarios
Meditation also helps with sickness in another way.
The American medical system is such that doctors are essentially required to tell you the worst-case scenario along with their diagnosis. Generally speaking, this approach is not ideal for health or healing. Meditation can be very, very helpful in these situations. Here’s how.
You go to the doctor for a list of symptoms and along with his diagnosis, and he hits you with a worst-case scenario. Which of course, upsets you, devastates you, sends you spinning physically and emotionally. Your whole system becomes agitated. You have trouble sleeping, focusing on daily life activities, and are completely lost in how upset you are about what might be coming your way.
This is not at all helpful for healing.
Rest is Best
In simple terms, we can say that the doctor has sent you into fight or flight mode instead of what you really need: rest is best. Your digestive and restorative systems immediately shut down so you can use all available resources to escape the threat that is about to eat you. This means that your system is designed to digest and heal only after you’ve escaped the lion. The devastating, worst-case scenario news has a similar effect on your system as the lion. The stress caused by the diagnosis shuts down the very aspects of your system that you need to fight the diagnosis, the healing and resting parts of our system. This is a folksy way of talking about a quite complicated scientific principle.
Alleviates Your Stress
From a Yoga perspective, stress causes your system to go out of balance. Then your mind and thinking become impaired, and your emotions move negatively towards fear and anxiety or perhaps anger and grief. This can easily aggravate the health situation.
So, when you get that worst-case scenario, where does your mind go? This is how meditation can help.
A mind that has been practicing meditation will not be as affected by negative news. As the pattern of focusing the mind strengthens through the practice of meditation, a certain resiliency develops in the mind that gives it the ability to recover from stress, negative news, and more. more quickly. Thus the system of mind, body, and emotions will spend less time in operating modes that are not helpful to healing.
Links Your Mind to Positivity
Meditation is also extremely helpful in developing the capacity to keep the mind linked with positive outcomes.
If you can’t see yourself getting better, you see yourself getting worse – and guess what?! That’s not going to help you get better! The ability to direct the mind to places where you want it to go strengthens with meditation practice and as that happens you’ll be able to keep the mind linked with positive scenarios and situations which will help recovery and wellness.
That is the power of meditation!
Looking for more?
If you are interested in exploring meditation, join the Yoga Well Institute community for Yoga for Meditation. Yoga for Meditation explores the way different Yoga techniques shape the experience of meditation. Each month is dedicated to a specific set of Yoga techniques (movement, breath & sound) and paired with a particular focus of meditation for the entire month. Each month is a new, in-depth exploration of the relationship between Yoga, its tools, and Meditation!