A man sits on the floor with his back against a couch, his head tipped back, and his eyes closed. Wavy lines emit from his body and somewhat cover the room.

Mindfulness and Meditations

For those of us who struggle with IBS and other illnesses, we often find ourselves feeling cut off from those around us. We cannot do what they can, go where they can, live as they can. We start to feel as though the world is always moving forward while we are sitting still. Because of the negative effect that IBS can have on our mental health, many people rely on meditation and mindfulness training to help them keep a positive outlook and to support their overall wellness. Mindfulness and meditation are just as important during times of isolation and inactivity as it is when you feel like your world feels like a runaway freight train. Perhaps more so.

What happens when we are alone?

When we are sick and alone, we find ourselves living in our own heads. Minutes feel like hours, hours like days. The more time you have to analyze all of the things in your life, good and bad, over-analysis can become an inevitability. When this happens, problems get bigger and more complicated. You begin to worry more, due to your health or isolation, because you feel that you cannot control or "fix" these huge problems.

Staying present is important

This is where mindfulness and staying in the moment becomes really important. No jumping forward to the issues of tomorrow, or dwelling on how bad a day you might have had yesterday. Just the here and now. If you find yourself too much in your head, ruminating about this or that, your best bet is to return to your breath. Breathing exercises are the beginning of meditation. Sometimes that's all meditation needs to be, depending on the person. Returning to the most basic thing in life, the breath can do wonders for the worry.

Meditation is called a practice for a reason

Meditation is not a holy man sitting on top of a mountain. Say it with me, "Meditation is not a holy man..." You get it. There are many ways to meditate. I dare say, there is something for everyone if you do a little research. If you have never tried it, start by finding yourself somewhere quiet (or with soothing music) that you can sit comfortably. No need to tie yourself into a pretzel. Follow your breath. As thoughts arise, as they will do, acknowledge the fact that you had the thought, but immediately move back to your breath.

Never tell yourself you are ‘not good’ at meditation. You are not trying to find paradise; you are trying to calm yourself. Sit for as long as you are comfortable and call it a day. Trust me, if you do this several times over the course of a week or month, you will find yourself sitting for longer and longer periods gradually.

Mindfulness and meditation are as important to me as medication, exercise, diet and everything else I do to manage my IBS and to maintain my overall health. Give it a try. You might find it rewarding. What do you have to lose other than more unneeded conversation with yourself? ;-)

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