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What ME/CFS Patients Can Learn From Meditation

Mediation has been extremely bastardized by Western culture. Most people in Western Cultures think of mediation as a way to "relax" or "calm down" or simply think of it as hanging out and "chilling" and even listening to music.

True meditation as it was originally conceived in India thousands of years ago, is not about relaxing or "being calm". It is mind training.

Interestingly, in Western cultures, we have a deep understanding of the concept that in order to be physically strong, we need to exercise our muscles. But we have zero understanding that the same applies to our mind.

Meditation is actually about training your mind to both focus and stay in the moment. When you simply sit and watch your breath, every time your thoughts stray, you gently bring your mind back to your breath without judgement. This is the work. You are focussing on the only thing happening in the moment - breathing. You are training your mind to focus and be present.

The great masters have incredible awareness with laser like focus while being simultaneously completely calm when they meditate.

The masters teach you to turn the lights on and not setup relaxing situations like candles or calming music. Meditation is not about being calm and definitely not about inducing an artificial state of calm with external aids like music. This would be like having someone help you pull up the weights when you work out so you can make it to your number of reps goal easier. It defeats the purpose.

They also teach that when you’re learning and practicing meditation, sometimes you will have euphoric experiences, or moments of transcendence and clarity, or feelings of relaxing peace, but other times (realistically most of the time) you will be suffering trying to constantly bring your mind back to your breath as it constantly strays to anything else. You will likely be uncomfortable or in physical or mental pain. It is often extremely uncomfortable for us to simply sit with our own body, mind and thoughts.

The key here is that it doesn’t matter what your experience is during individual mediation sessions. The point is to keep doing it regularly and practice. Train your mind just like physical training. It doesn’t matter if you’re angry or grumpy when you get up to workout, or feel grumpy while your’e doing it. It’s a long term goal of fitness and strength. The point is to keep doing it regularly.

The same thing is true of living with ME/CFS. It doesn’t matter how you feel on specific individual days, hours or minutes. What matters is that you simply keep going. There is profound wisdom that can come from letting go of how you feel now, and focussing on practicing strength in a long term goal and practice. Your feelings are not you, they are just feelings. They come and go like the tides. They don’t define you and are never permanent.

Develop a daily routine of living with ME/CFS that is sustainable. Make it a spiritual practice to keep going, focussing on a long term goal rather than how you feel now. And let yourself feel like shit. It’s ok. What matters is that you keep going. Continue breathing, continue trying to avoid getting worse, continue seeing the future and knowing all things change when you are in a low point. This is the work of living with ME/CFS. It’s not easy, it is usually quite painful, but it is the greatest teacher you will ever have.

Donate to ME/CFS research at the Open Medicine Foundation to help stop the suffering of millions and end ME/CFS.








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