When thinking of meditation people usually imagine sitting with their legs crossed, eyes closed and humming. Depending on the type of meditation, that may still ring true, but meditation has come a long way and is now being used as a natural treatment for ailments.
Psychotherapist Allison Abrams said there are more and more people out there turning
to meditation instead of medication.
“Numerous studies over the years have shown the positive effects of meditation on pain and anxiety among other ailments,” Abrams said. “There are no side effects, it is usually more cost effective and it doesn’t lose its effects over time like medication can.”
A study conducted by National Institute of Health in 2016, reported that individuals suffering from chronic pain who practiced meditation reported 50 percent fewer symptoms than those who did not.
Meditation is about focusing on your breath and not being overwhelmed by the thoughts in your head. A person can direct their own meditation, follow a guided meditation or take a class if they have a specific need they are focusing on.
Susan Fraser deals with chronic back pain and recently completed an eight-week meditation course to see if it would help.
“I was tired of the side effects from my medications and having to keep changing them,” Fraser said. “I wanted to try meditation to see if I could get some relief without causing other problems.”
Abrams said that ultimately meditation cannot be a substitute when medical treatment is necessary, but it does help you become more aware of the present situation and what you are feeling.
“Despite its many positive effects, meditation is not a cure-all and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical care when needed,” Abrams said. “Meditation does help in moments of high stress or anxiety. What it does is shift your focus to the present moment, as most forms of mental suffering, such as anxiety and depression, are brought on by our thoughts- thoughts of the past or worries about the future.”
After her class, Fraser intends to keep going with it.
“I’m looking forward to sticking with the program they taught me, it did actually help,” Fraser said. “It has helped me to focus on what is in front of me and not dwell on my pain.”