What do meditation and migraines have to do with each other? Meditation is proven to help reduce stress and migraine attacks.
Meditation has helped me to manage not only the pain from migraines, but life's stress in general.
I answer some of the most common questions below so you can get started now on finding better pain relief.
The research proves migraine reduction and promises of better health, but what about secret mantras and special rules that come with some methods.
Is meditation hard to do?
To answer that one right off the bat, yes, some methods are harder to learn than others. Guided visualization, or guided CD's are the easiest for me to listen to before an attack. But doing (TM) Transcendental Meditation regularly has had many benefits for me as well.
So let me help you make it all easier with the basics and links to what I have found to work well for me and my painfully resistant migraines.
The purpose of meditating is to achieve this silent and peaceful level of contentment – “your inner most self” – in a state of “restful alertness” where your focus achieves mental clarity and your body enjoys deep rest.
On a scientific level, the left and right hemispheres of the
brain synchronize, the cardiovascular system slows down, breathing
relaxes and expands, and this gives the body a deep rest. In other words, it calms the autonomic nervous system and encourages sleep.
I like easy guided meditations myself now. I listen to them over and over again. Check out headache music page with a list of ones I love to use.
The most researched method of meditation to date is Transcendental Meditation (TM). It entails repeating your unique mantra, for 20 minutes twice a day. It is the most examined, most widely practiced method and is said to be:
The TM technique of silently repeating your mantra allows your mind to settle down, clear its thoughts and constant processing to be able to observe the deeper or true source of your thoughts. This pure awareness is known as “transcendental consciousness” (ibid.).
I find it quite an effective method of meditating AWAY from the pain phase, but not during. Guided is the way to go.
All the sources say that anyone can learn to meditate.
Please see our article on learning the technique of transcendental meditation for migraine relief for more details.
I, on the
other hand, am not convinced that it is that easy to silence my mind. Especially with an attack looming. I do always retreat to my bedroom to do my meditation and migraines CD's.
In fact they say the technique is so simple that children as young as five years old can learn and practice this without any difficulty.
Children between 5 and 10 years of age are not expected to close their eyes to meditate, and they only meditate one minute for how old they are. So a five year old would meditate for 5 minutes. And their words are special “words of wisdom™” rather than a mantra, but it is used in the same fashion.
Please click here for our 10 basic migraine pain management beginner meditation and migraines tips.
For the best results, TM says twice a day for 20 minutes is recommended. I prefer a guided meditation for 25 minutes to half an hour, twice a day.
Early in the morning and before going to bed are the best times. It is best to pick the same times and stick to them each day if possible. It is recommended to form a daily routine to include your practice.
Outside your regular routine, doing your meditation practice at your earliest warning sign that a migraine is on its way is the best time. Timing is crucial with meditation and migraines!
You can learn the guided meditations right away. However, how long it takes for you to find inner peace and quiet your mind will just take the time it takes you. You should feel calmer instantly before a migraine if you get your timing right.
The TM courses are normally 3 or 4 days in a row. You can obtain information about how to do Transcendental Meditation and learn the philosophies and practice the method with your assigned mantra both in session with the guru and at home.
They say you will get it in a week end, but it took me a bit longer to actually be able to focus enough on this new word and to clear my busy mind.
It is different for everyone, but most people see the results immediately. The benefits accumulate over the years of practice.
That depends on what method you want to start with. The price of a CD or a local course will vary, but pretty cheap considering what other things cost for pain management! Meditation and migraines is definitely a cheaper choice than say physiotherapy or chiropractors.
For TM when I went along a number of years ago, the cost was $1,000.00 for the weekend instructions. The courses may vary in cost according to country, but the weekend intensives are not what I consider cheap.
The course also has levels, and further costs are incurred for higher teacher training levels.
I believe, in most cases, there is a 6 month follow up course of meetings that are free. The forums are also free. So it depends on value for money. Millions think its well worth it.
That’s fine - you can sit in a chair or lie down. Although one tends to fall asleep when laying down, so sitting is preferred.
As long as your spine is straight and comfortable.
You can meditate on a train, bus or anywhere you can sit down.
Meditation and migraines is best done laying down so you can drift off to sleep. Sleep is a great migraine aid.
Not necessarily. Richard Castillo’s (1990) research found that 70% of young people experienced episodes of depersonalization and concluded that:
“the depersonalization and derealization experiences of novice subjects while meditating by gazing at a blue vase are strikingly similar to the experiences reported by TM meditators.”
Cynthia Perkins (2012) mentions numerous studies in her e-book Mindfulness Over Migraines, and it seems all participants in most studies were able to reduce their chronic pain by 50-72 per cent.
She cites results from a 2008 study that showed "72 percent of the participants experienced fewer migraines, developed a higher pain tolerance, less anxiety and a higher level of headache related self-efficacy and overall sense of well-being."
And another that had the pain reduction of 57 per cent illustrated by an MRI.
Scientific proof - that's all I needed!
Even with all the health benefits, it is not a cure all.
Many people critique TM and the whole TM movement. This study of Castillo's, and having now researched other critics, leads me to see both sides of TM.
There are both positive and negative (costs a lot of money) aspects to consider.
My conclusion is that deeper awareness or higher levels of consciousness can be reached by finding the form of meditation that suits us best as migraineurs. We have very different pain levels to consider.
The best meditation process I have found to date is by Cynthia Perkins in her e-book
Mindfulness Over Migraines. She covers the right timing which is essential with meditation and migraines. She has found a way to eliminate her migraines in 15 minutes.
Meditation for Migraines
Meditation and Migraines - Your Questions Answered