Transcending Migraine Headaches

by David Spector
(Natural Stress Relief/USA)

Holly,

I do not believe that meditation is a panacea. Medical conditions need to be treated medically. In the case of migraine headaches, it is unfortunately the case that medicine doesn't understand all the causes and cannot always provide a successful treatment.

I apologize for giving a general response, but I know nothing of your background; I have no time to read your blog in depth. If you have avoided medical diagnosis and treatment, perhaps because you preferred alternative treatments, I would encourage you to search for a doctor who can help.

If you have seen many doctors, and they have not been able to help, then I am not sure how to answer. As I said, no form of meditation, including transcending, has been shown to eliminate medical conditions, except for those caused by stress. I do not know enough about migraine headaches to have a feel for the extent to which stress plays a role.

I can think of things to suggest, like massages or applying heat or cold to the neck or head, but these come from my imagination, and have no particular validity. They would not come from my knowledge and experience as a meditation teacher.

I think the most interesting point in your message is the question, "How does one "be with" or observe that level of discomfort?"

First, as I said above, if there is any chance that there is a medical solution, it is worth looking for.

Second, I know that it is possible to observe pain, in general, and be with it, fully, no matter how severe it is. I also know that one's mental habit patterns may include avoidance and resentment toward the pain. These negative attitudes may be the reason you find it difficult to observe pain.

I have found, for my meditating clients, that any attitude of avoidance or resentment gives power to the pain. You might ask yourself if this might be the case for you. If so, then it will take a great deal of courage to face the pain the first time, but you may be successful if you adopt a different attitude, even temporarily.

For example, you might hold in mind, gently, the idea that the pain is on some level the same whether you observe it or not. Whatever physical or mechanical process is causing nerves to register pain will happen exactly the same whether you watch it or whether you dive into coping strategies to avoid the pain.

Since the pain is the same, observing it cannot make it worse. It can make it FEEL worse, but it cannot hurt you physically. Observation is natural and never harmful.

If you can agree with all of this, even temporarily, you can set aside some time and some privacy to sit and pay attention to the pain.

At first, it will overwhelm you. And it will last for a very long time, maybe an hour or more. But if it finally eases up, you have learned that paying attention will help.

It may not ease up. In which case only a medical solution will work.

But if it does ease up, then try again the next day. Pay attention in the same way. Go through the misery again until it eases up.

Continue like that every day. If you are lucky, the sessions will get shorter and shorter, and the pain will become increasingly easy to tolerate.

If it will help, I am willing to support you in this. You can send me emails describing what happened as you followed my suggestions. Having someone to support you, even by email, can make a difference.

Paying attention is a simple Vedic technique for dealing with pain, but I've found that it is only effective in people who are practicing transcending correctly and regularly, which I gather you are no longer doing. I urge you to return to Transcendental Meditation (by going to a center and making an appointment to have your meditation checked) or learn Natural Stress Relief (NSR), which is a do-it-yourself mail order course.

For most of us, mental effortlessness is a strange and foreign concept. But it can help all of life, perhaps, who knows - even migraine headaches.

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