Even if you haven’t tried it yet, you most likely have heard of meditation.
Research shows that the practice of meditation as an eﬀective tool for managing stress, improving focus, concentration and reducing pain.
Meditation is not a cure for Hidradenitis suppurativa. But it could be a very powerful tool to help manage feelings of stress, insecurity, frustration and pain.
From the outside meditation may just look like a type of sitting in stillness, and it is! But it is a very special type of sitting in stillness.
There are many diﬀerent styles of meditation but essentially it is brain training. You train the mind by focusing on one thing for as long as possible. This may be the breath or a phrase or an object.
Naturally the mind will get distracted. But in meditation, you learn to simply bring the attention back time and time again.
It can be diﬃcult at first to do this on your own. So you can try a guided meditation practice which you can ﬁnd online. Or you can join a local class. There may even be some speciﬁc meditations for people with chronic illness.
Here are 3 reasons to consider meditation as a way to help manage HS.
1. It builds new brain pathways
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. This part of the brain responds to bodily sensations of fear or negative situations. It can cause us feel un-settled or under attack.
This is the same response that can be triggered by negative stories we tell ourselves. For example negative things we might say to ourselves or beliefs and stories we create about ourselves can cause internal conﬂict.
Meditation can help to weaken those neural connections that trigger us. It enables us to look at thoughts more rationally.
2. It hacks the emotional response to pain and reduces inﬂammation
Becoming an impartial observer of your mind allows you to not resist pain when it arises. The process of simply becoming aware of sensation and not labelling them either as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is liberating. It allows the practitioner to act with more awareness, a sense of non-judgement and non-reactivity to the inner experiences.
Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. Over time, high levels may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce your energy levels and contribute to diabetes.
Learning to recognise stressful thoughts, becoming aware of your breath or a raised heart rate and other signs of tension in the body can help you to slow down or stop the release of too much cortisol into the system.
3. Meditation releases endorphins more powerful than pain killer
It boosts brain chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, GABA and other ‘good mood’ brain chemicals. Endorphins are thought to be more powerful than pharmaceuticals. These brain chemicals also have none of the negative side-eﬀects such as numbing of the senses, high levels of dependency and masking of the symptoms.
And the best part is it’s free! So you have nothing to lose by giving it a go.
About the Author
Ana Maria Conneely is a movement and wellbeing expert and speaker. She has been teaching yoga since 2013 and she is also a massage therapist, nutritional advisor and host of The A Way to Live Well podcast.