The Benefits of Meditation (How to Relax Your Body and Mind)

The Benefits of Meditation (How to Relax Your Body and Mind)

If you find yourself feeling anxious and stressed more frequently than usual, it’s time to take a break before you find your bucket overflowed with stress. You can achieve this by pampering your mind and body with meditation. Meditation is one of the best ways to cope with stress as it releases tension from our muscles and encourages the supply of oxygenated blood to our brain. It gives us a moment for self-reflection and helps in finding the answers to our problems within. It is also very relaxing.

How I Like to Meditate:

Focusing attention to the different parts of the body through meditation is a good way to quiet the mind. You may start practicing meditation by sitting comfortably while closing your eyes. Relax your shoulders by placing your hands on your lap. Take a few slow and deep breaths and exhale the stress from your body with each exhale. After that, start focusing on the different parts of your body starting from the toes, legs, and hips with each breath. Picture yourself sending vibrations of relaxation to each body part and release your tension as you do so.

You can practice this for five to ten minutes before you go back to your regular tasks. Here are some of the benefits of meditation:

Using Meditation to Calm The Mind

It Reduces Stress Levels Within Your Body and Can Lessen Inflammation

Stress causes the release of hormones such as Cortisol. It produces harmful effects on your body and releases cytokines, which is an inflammation-promoting chemical. These hormones and chemicals can promote disturbed sleep, anxiety, and depression. It also leads to cloudy thinking and fatigue. People often use meditation for stress reduction. A study shows that if you do mindfulness meditation for more than eight weeks, it can lower the harmful effects of inflammatory hormones on our body. Meditation can also improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.  

Helps Control Inflammation

If you feel less stressed, this can lead to you feeling less anxious. If you start practicing meditation you could experience a reduction in your anxiety. Along with that, it also reduces the symptoms of anxiety such as paranoid thoughts, phobias, social anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Meditation can not only reduces the symptoms of anxiety but can also help you cope up with the stress related to the high-pressure working environment.

Helps in Decreasing Blood Pressure

Meditation helps in reducing the strain on your heart. High blood pressure creates pressure on the heart, and it has to work harder to pump the blood, which leads to poor heart function. With time, high blood pressure contributes to narrowing the heart arteries, and atherosclerosis, which can be the main cause of heart stroke and attack. When you practice meditation and chant non-vocalized words, it can help in reducing high blood pressure. This can lead to a controlled nervous system and coordinated heart signal.

Using Meditation to Help Decrease Blood Pressure

Helps You to Bear Pain

Your mind plays an important role in perceiving pain, and it can pain levels can increase if you’re in a stressful condition. A study shows that if you practice yoga on a regular basis, it helps you make less sensitive towards pain and decrease in chronic pain. Meditation helps in diminishing the perception of the pain in your brain. This process can help you cope with intermittent pain. 

Can Improve Your Sleep Pattern

Half of the population of the world struggles with insomnia at some point in their lives. If you practice mindfulness meditation techniques regularly, you’ll notice an improvement in your sleep. Meditation not only helps you sleep easily but also makes sleep more satisfying. Our racing thoughts, stress, and anxiety don’t let our brain relax, and that leads to insomnia. Meditation calms these thoughts and helps in relaxing our brain, releasing tension and putting you in a peaceful state. 

Aids Addiction Recovery

Meditation helps in increasing self-control, which can help you to get rid of any kind of dependencies and increase awareness for triggers towards addictive behavior. A study shows that regular practice of meditation helps people to increase their willpower, redirect their attention, control impulses, and more. For people who are taking medication and treatment for drugs or alcohol addiction, meditation can serve as the perfect aid for controlling your cravings. Meditation also helps in controlling food-related cravings and is helpful for disorders like obesity.

Using Meditation to Help Control Addictive Behavior

Can Also Increase Positive Feelings Such As Generocity

Regular practice of meditation helps in increasing positivity towards yourself and others. Love kindness meditation is a technique that helps you to develop kind thoughts towards yourself and others. You start developing mercy and forgiveness, first to yourself then gradually towards an acquaintance and finally towards your enemies. Not only does this encourage love and kindness, but also it helps in reducing marriage conflicts, social anxiety, and aids anger management. This meditation technique is an excellent way to learn compassion and empathy towards others and to look upon life with positive feelings.

Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes 200 hours of yoga teacher training in various cities in India and Nepal. He also conducts AyurvedaCourses in Kerala He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature, Himalayas and Trekking in Nepal .

The Search For An Answer, a short story

waiting for diagnosis

Adrian looked around the waiting room, noting that he was easily the youngest person there. Most of the people sitting in the room were easily a decade older than him, probably more, and that all of them were women. This made him embarrassed. He knew that most people seeing a rheumatologist were women and probably older, but seeing it in person was different.

Feeling uneasy while waiting

            Adrian tried to ignore his embarrassment by looking at the decorations on the wall, which was all still life photographs. He had to suppress a snort, of course that’s what was on the walls. Just like every doctors office, there has to be boring, framed photos of nothing interesting.

            “Adrian Thompson,” the nurse called.

            Standing up slowly, Adrian followed the nurse to the exam room in the back. Even as he followed her, he couldn’t keep up and had to walk significantly slower than her because the pain in his joints was so bad. He immediately sat down in the lone chair in the corner when he reached the room, ignoring the exam table.

            “What brings you in today?” the nurse asked.

            “I’ve been having pain and swelling in my joints, muscle pain, fatigue, and stiffness when I wake up in the morning or if I move after I’ve stayed in the same position for too long” Adrian replied.

            She wrote everything down, looked at him quizzically, and said the doctor would see him soon. Adrian looked around the room after she left. He noted several arthritis posters, a osteoporosis poster, and some three dimensional models of joints on the counter.

The doctor

            30 minutes later, the rheumatologist, Dr. Erikson, entered the room. He read the notes that the nurse had made and asked what brought him in. Adrian repeated exactly the same thing he had said to the nurse.

            “Hop onto the exam table,” he said.

            Adrian flinched several times when Dr. Erikson pressed on points that hurt, then ordered some blood tests and offered to prescribe him painkillers for the intervening days until he saw him again.

            “No, thank you,” Adrian said, “I am an addict in recovery, I have 60 days clean and sober today, and I don’t want to risk going back into active addiction.”

            “Good for you getting sober,” Dr. Erikson said. And with that, he left the room, telling Adrian to make another appointment in 30 days.

Second appointment

            The following 30 days were agonizingly painful and long. Adrian desperately wanted to know what was wrong, because something was obviously wrong. The constant pain was something he didn’t think he’d ever get used to, almost worse than the pain was the fatigue that was making it hard to be a functional human being. Adrian could barely remember what it felt like to wake up feeling rested.

            Returning to the doctor’s office, Adrian waited an hour just in the waiting room just to wait another hour in the exam room. When Dr. Erikson finally, finally, showed up, Adrian became hopeful that he might finally have an answer. He was disappointed.

            “All your labs came back negative, there is nothing physically wrong with you,” Dr. Erikson told him.

            “So what happens now?” asked Adrian.

            “Here is the business card of a good psychiatrist in the area. I’d recommend talking to her and getting on the proper medication” the doctor told him.

            Adrian was so upset he couldn’t speak. Even a doctor, the best rheumatologist in a 50 mile radius, thought he was making up the pain and various symptoms he was experiencing. Adrian numbly walked out of the office and got into his car. When he closed the car door, he finally broke down. He wasn’t crazy, was he? He didn’t think so. But either way, he pulled out the psychiatrist’s card and made an appointment.

Continuing the search for awnsers

            Over the next year, Adrian searched for an answer. He saw the psychiatrist, who referred him to a therapist and a different rheumatologist, that rheumatologist referred him to a different psychiatrist, who told him to see another rheumatologist. He didn’t have anyone actually believe he was actually in pain until he finally gave up on specialists and saw his general practitioner.

            Adrian told his general practitioner his symptoms, telling him about all the struggles to find an answer, and he watched the doctor’s eyes light up. Adrian knew then that he finally found a doctor who completely believed him, and he was ecstatic.

            “Here’s an order for more blood tests and an order for getting your hands and feet x-rayed,” Dr. Johnson said, handing Adrian the stated orders, “Come back in two weeks and we’ll review the results.”

waiting for diagnosis
U.S. Army Spc. Juan Hernandez, Jr., McDonald Army Medical Center U.S. Army Medical Activity medical laboratory technician, draws a blood sample from a patient at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 26, 2017. The JBLE lab technicians perform over a million tests annually and study the hematology, coagulation, chemistry and microbiology of the samples. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland)

            Adrian immediately went to get his blood drawn, and two weeks later he was back at the office, eagerly awaiting the results.

The results

            “Adrian Thompson,” the nurse called. Adrian got up and followed the nurse into the exam room, and 20 minutes later Dr. Johnson came in.

            He spent five minutes looking at the results from Adrian’s tests, and then looked at Adrian.

            “I know what’s wrong,” Dr. Johnson told Adrian.

            “What?” Adrian asked eager to finally have an answer.

            “I have two diagnoses for you. The first is about the joint pain. You have no markers for it, but you have what’s called seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, based on the high amount of inflammation and the damage to the joints in your hands and feet. The second is related to the muscle pain, and there’s no specific test for this, but I believe you also have fibromyalgia.”

            Those were exactly what Adrian thought he had from his research, but having confirmation was both a relief and a weight on his shoulders.

            “So where do we go from here?” asked Adrian.

            “I will give you a copy of the results and write a diagnosis on a prescription pad, and I’ll give you a card for a rheumatologist. He will know better on what medications to put you on, but I’ll give you a couple of things to treat the conditions while you wait to see the rheumatologist.”

Finally getting a diagnosis

            Adrian went home in a daze. As soon as he got home he called and made an appointment with the recommended rheumatologist. With that done, Adrian got back into his car and began the hour and a half drive to the beach, the place that always seemed to calm him. Since it was still winter and he was in Washington, Adrian made sure to take a heavy coat with him. He tried not to think much on the drive, and to appreciate the beauty of the forest around him.

            When he reached the beach, he put on the coat and began to walk along to beach right on the edge where the forest ended and the beach began. The beauty of the place, with the rock cliffs in the middle of the ocean that somehow had trees on top the constant green of the forest, and the drift wood that had washed up on shore. This place always brought Adrian a sense of calm. Adrian got to be alone with his thoughts since it was nearly deserted because it was no longer tourist season.

finally diagnosed

As Adrian walked, he thought about how much his life would change because of the two diagnoses he was just given. He didn’t know if he would be able to continue to work at his goals, if he would be able to work as a nurse like he was studying for. He didn’t know if he could continue to live in this beautiful area, because the weather always hurt his joints. But most of all, Adrian thought about how scared he was about the future. He knew what advanced rheumatoid arthritis could do to joints.  He had seen the pictures online. Adrian even let out a couple tears as rain began to fall, counting on the rain to hide his tears from anyone who might look at him.

            Adrian knew his life was about to change, and as he got back into his car to begin his drive home, he tried to just be grateful to finally have an answer after over a year of searching and allow the future to turn out however it’s meant to.

Chris Thoman is a 23 years old, college student, and lives with several chronic illnesses. He loves meeting and talking to new people, especially those who struggle with similar things as him. Follow him on Instagram

I had to go to to DETOX! Addiction vs. Dependency

nancy thornton

By Nancy Thornton

nancy t


Wow. Yeah. I had to go to DETOX.

How I ended up here is a long story with lots of twists and turns. I guess the root causes would have to be my autoimmune disease and chronic pain. Those two are always giving me new experiences, most of which I’d like to have postponed indefinitely. Trouble is, I don’t get to choose a lot of what happens inside my body, such as the cascade of drug reactions I had this year.

I ran out of my regular NSAID and decided to try Aleve. I got hives after 3 days. Shortly after that, Indomethacin, an NSAID I had taken for years began to make my heart race every time I took it. My rheumy switched me to Nabumatome.

The next week, I was exposed to both flu A and B at a kid’s birthday party. I came down with what was presumably A first since my daughter tested positive for that strain and it was very hard on both of us. In my case it turned into bronchitis, due to my immune- lowering drugs. I had one course of antibiotics that didn’t do the trick. A second, Cephaclor, made my face numb for a day but I ignored it. By the forth dose numbness was also in my left hand a half hour after taking it. Then by an hour after, numbness in both hands was creeping up my arms. I was glad I had read the info about the new drug so I was aware this was an emergency. (always, ALWAYS, read those leaflets!)

Mom drove me to the ER and I had the worst sense of impending doom I have ever experienced. I recited the 23rd Psalm internally just to keep myself from screaming and slapping people. I literally felt like I was going to die, even though rationally, I was in good hands. When medical personnel just would not hurry fast enough I wanted to rip their heads off. I’m not that lady that yells and swears at nurses, but I could have become her. (severe anxiety is a known adverse reaction to Cefaclor) My throat was closing after I arrived. It was anaphylaxis. That’s probably the most terrified I have ever been and the anxiety was worse than the physical symptoms, but anyway, the ER team saved me.

I took my next antibiotic and it was almost gone when I started getting hives from Nabumatome, along with wheezing. (I was on 30 mg of Prednisone had just stopped Benadryl) My rheumy said I now had a drug class allergy. I was never to take ANY NSAID again, not even aspirin or ibuprofen or any product containing them.

After those hives began to heal, I noticed more appearing again. It took me a few days to figure out it was Tramadol. I had been taking Tramadol for about 6 years combined with an NSAID for my autoimmune arthritis.


Chemical Dependency Vs Addiction

abuse vs dependence


I knew from running out a few times that I had become chemically dependent upon this medication. The hot and cold sweats, anxiety, uncontrolled jerking, nausea and sleepless nights were maddening, not to mention the return of pain. If I had to take this medicine for pain every day, what did it matter if I was dependent? This is an issue with which many chronic pain people continue to wrestle.

Chemical dependence and addiction are not the same. For instance, we are ALL chemically dependent upon a substance called H2O. So much so, that the average person will die after 3 days without it. Diabetics are dependent on insulin. Millions are dependent on antidepressants so they don’t commit suicide. People without spleens are dependent on antibiotics. There are hundreds of examples of people who do not bear the stigma of “addict” simply because their chemical substance is not a pain reliever. So what’s the difference?

Addiction usually involves craving more and more of something, inability to stop, negative social and financial consequences of using. These can happen without chemical dependence (i.e. gambling, sex addiction). Chemical or physiological dependency involves your body’s need for a substance, with negative physical and sometimes psychological symptoms as a result of withdrawing from that substance. There need not be cravings, abuse or any of the stuff addiction entails.


Getting Help

So I was dependent upon Tramadol, which was advertised to doctors a drug with low dependence and addiction risk. It turns out Tramadol is habit forming and has difficult, long lasting withdrawal symptoms. Having been on it for 6 years, a pharmacy friend had told me there was a risk of seizures. I knew I needed some help, so I called my rheumy, but got no support. My rheumy told me through his nurse I would be fine because they had taken many other people off of Tramadol without any issues. To me, the hives and the withdrawal symptoms were equally annoying. Both also could be equally dangerous. What was I to do?

I was sure I couldn’t handle this on my own. Having been sick(er) for over a month, I was SO TIRED.  I cried a little, terrified at what it would mean to be in detox.  What would my family and friends say? I didn’t want to be another person in chronic pain they could point to and think I was just a drug seeker. I decided to keep most of them out of the loop until it was over. I pulled up my big girl panties and took the phone a friend option. I called someone I knew that had experience with such things. She had me call a treatment center. (I sobbed between phone calls). They said I should call an advocate because unless I needed the full 90-day treatment program, they couldn’t help me. So I called the advocate, who said no one would take Medicaid, which was my only healthcare option. (more sobbing, this time on the phone). The advocate said I should call one more person who was leaving work in an hour. I called repeatedly, leaving messages. He finally called me back and gave me the name of 3 different places to try. I took a look at all 3 on the web and checked that they would take my “insurance”. Check. Looked at what others were saying: all had good reviews.

Then I called the one that seemed to have the highest amount of good press. They said I NEEDED help and that I could come in any time of the day or night and they would see what they could do for me.

It was 3 hours away. My mother lived only half that distance from them and I needed moral support. My son would stay with his father, and my grown mildly autistic daughter would stay with my parents. My son’s father would take care of our pets and get the mail. It was a big step. I won’t say this was easy. None of this was easy. It was the beginning of summer, so we were all off. Putting your life on hold, even for a week, even when you have HAAD to many times before in our chronic journey is never easy. Doing it by choice, even if it’s not really much of a choice is terrifying. When your life and body are out of control, you grasp at anything you can reach to try and control some aspect of it. I know. I know.

I had a 2-hour drive to my mother’s house. I had been off of Tramadol for 12 hours and was already twitchy, sweaty and nauseated. I decided to take more Tramadol and risk more hives rather than a seizure while driving (plus I hate puking with a passion). When we arrived at Mom’s, she was ready to drive for the last leg of our journey.



The lobby was bright and calming, full of light and had a large fish tank, which helped me feel better. I summarized my reason for coming on a small slip of paper at the desk and the receptionist smiled kindly. Then I sat waiting with my backpack. I had stuffed 3 changes of clothes, all my meds, supplements, phone, netbook, chargers, pain relief rubs, patches, my plush, extra-large heating pad, my water bottle and miscellaneous items into it.

I saw a series of 4 different people, intake workers, and nurses who asked me more and more in depth questions. I had to give a medical history, mental health and abuse histories, plus reiterate why I was there. They had a bed for me, but because of all my health issues, had to admit me through the emergency department.

I took another Tramadol at the usual time, because my pain was exacerbated by stress. I regretted it as soon as it began to kick in at the ER. Hives intensified, and my face began to swell around my left eye with crushing cheekbone pain. The docs gave me some Benadryl and an ice pack, and increased my prednisone to 60 mg. I took a short ambulance ride back to the behavioral health building. My mother wasn’t with me for the next part.

I had to sign myself into treatment, which meant I could leave any time. The detox program is 3 to 5 days. I would not be able to legally own a firearm for the next 5 years. I don’t have one now and probably couldn’t pull a trigger with my arthritic hands anyway. I had to give them my backpack to be inspected for contraband. That would include all drugs, electronics, sharp items, weapons and strings. One of my shirts was rejected because it had a string. I also had to surrender my shoes or have the laces confiscated. I chose to wear socks. The contraband rules were there because of people in the same building and possibly on the unit who would harm themselves or others with those items, and because they want us to detox from electronics for a time as well. If I smoked or vaped, that was also contraband at this particular center, though not at every center. I had to submit to a body check. Nude. In front of two people. It was not fun, but it was over quickly. They have to be sure you aren’t sneaking anything in, for one thing. For another, they have to document all tattoos, bruises, cuts, scars and rashes. Of course I had hives from head to toe and about 50% of my body was already covered with psoriasis, so there were lots of questions.



During treatment I Reacted to both of the detox drugs (Subutex and Soboxone they gave me, so I ended up with Benadryl injections and steroid cream for my hives. So I detoxed with minimal help. I had to stay a few days longer because of my allergies. Everybody was given a blood pressure lowering patch. We could get Tylenol, Ibuprofen, our regular prescribed meds, anti-nausea meds, or hot and cold packs if we asked for them. Vital signs are checked every 4 hours. There is a headcount every 15 minutes and daily room checks.

Time sort of stands still in there. They keep you busy. I can’t tell you much about the inside because of privacy laws. I can say that while there, we had group discussions on addiction and recovery a lot of the time. We also had art therapy and other things that were fun. The fed us well and the food was OK. The people were amiable, each with different issues than mine, but all there for chemical detox. We actually laughed and cried together, watched old movies and played games. It was like an extended family, with all ages and walks of life represented. It was a challenging and life-giving time and one of the best weeks of my life.

They treated my pain with gabapentin, and it made me feel dizzy/drunk for about 2 weeks. I couldn’t drive, so ended up staying with Mon and Dad after I was discharged. It gave me really intense stupidity   brain fog for about 2 months. I was used to a sharp mind, and that was probably the hardest part. No way could I have handled that during the school year. Eventually the gabapentin really worked for me. I had to wait it out, and I am on 3200 mg daily which is a lot, but it works for my every day pain. I still have to add Tylenol arthritis on top of that a few times a week and it helps some as well. I’m at a pain level of 3 most days now, going up to 5 tops.

So it didn’t turn out too bad. I was right to take initiative and get myself healthier, and lucky to have had the ability to do so.  I had some support, although most people I know didn’t have a clue about it at the time. In the end, my stay was funded by the hospital itself, because they did not actually take the kind of Medicaid that I have. If you ever think you might need this kind of help, don’t be afraid. Be proactive. It can be a great experience if you approach it with an open mind and heart.


nancy thornton

Nancy Thornton, is a former homeschooling mom of 3, living with Psoriatic Arthritis Mutilans for the past 8 years. She decided to follow my dream of getting a science degree after her diagnosis. She has an AS in Biology and minor in Environmental Studies. Her goal is to be an Agricultural Extension Agent and community educator and  she is embracing the journey. What gives her joy and courage: her family, nature, faith, music, fellow Spoonies and her cat George Purrington Silverstripes.