I am one of the more than 37 million reported migraine suffers. I recently learned that I suffer from something called silent migraine as well as the more traditional migraine symptoms. Today I had a migraine with nausea, neck pain, dizziness and headache (just to name a few), but I had been having silent migraines for a long time without knowing that was what was happening. I only found this out because I had symptoms not long ago that I thought could have been a seizure. Now I take a migraine preventative and I have medicine available whenever I have a migraine with pain.
I do use some of the same methods I use during meditation when I have migraine symptoms. I will focus on my breath to help the nausea and to take my mind off of the pain. I also just let any thoughts I have about the migraine pass through rather than focus on them and feed any anxiety the migraine is causing. I also get pain the my neck that can cause me to draw my shoulders upward, but with a quick body scan I can try to focus on where my tension is and breathe into the tension and pain to help relieve these symptoms. Even if I only use these while waiting for medication to take effect, I consider it a win that they’re effective during that time.
But I was curious if meditation had any other effect of my migraines. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked into it. The information about meditation being used to treat medical disorders is endless, but specifically migraines seem to be helped by meditation.
ABC News wrote and Article entitled, “Meditation as Medicine” . They talk specifically about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine located in Durham, NC (which is the same location as Duke University). They talk about meditation as being a minor miracle for some patients they see. There is mention in the article that for people who suffer from a wide range of ailments, meditation can be a cost-effective treatment. Combined with pharmaceutical therapies, medical procedures, nutrition and other health management, meditation can help bridge the gap between mind and body. (For a free 8 week Mindful Based Stress Reduction Course Online click here.)
On October 26, 2016 The American Migraine Foundation posted an article to their website entitled, “Mindfulness Meditation for Migraine”. They talk about how a regular, ongoing practice is key to getting the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Both the non-doing part of mindfulness meditation and the non-judging part play a role in helping migraine sufferers (as well as others). By learning to stop and focus on the now the stress and anxiety that comes with having a conditions such as migraine can be lessened. And learning to accept all of us, including what we may deem to be painful or undesirable can have a positive effect as well.
The well-known and respected publication Time published an online article with the headline “Meditation Shortens Migraines by 3 Hours”. They’re referring to a very small study done by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (also in NC). The study can be seen here. The people in the very small sample reported having 1.4 less migraines per month, and the migraines that they did report lasted 3 hours less than a control group’s. Admittedly, more research needs to be done with such few participants, but with all of the other benefits of meditation and mindfulness this may just be the icing on the cake for migraine suffers like myself.