For thousands of years, meditation has been known as a form of medical treatment. Long before Western medicine discovered its benefits, ancient health practitioners relied on meditation to treat a number of medical conditions.
Today, meditation is one alternative method for treating migraines. Physicians have focused a great deal of research studies at Zen monasteries, where meditation is practiced. Zen monks actually treat their own headaches, and other painful conditions, with meditation.
Five Types of Meditation
The following five types of meditation have all been studied for their holistic health benefits. While physicians are not certain how meditation works with the mind and body to help alleviate migraines, they agree that it does work.
In studies, 75 percent of migraine sufferers who also practiced meditation reported that the frequency of their migraines and the intensity of their headaches were lower. Almost 80 percent of migraine patients who practiced yoga regularly reported that had fewer migraine episodes and were able to manage their pain with over-the-counter medications.
- Zen: Zen meditation involves deep introspection and seeks knowledge of self. With this type of meditation, practitioners close their mind to outside thoughts in order to achieve a deep state of concentration.
- Vipassana: This type of meditation is an ancient mind-body exercise, which was practiced by the Buddha. Vipassana means “to see things clearly.” It has been taught as a way of healing the body and the mind. This form of meditation is also called insight meditation. It requires focusing on the deep connections between the body and the mind, while remaining calm and detached.
- Transcendental: Transcendental meditation comes from the Hindu faith and it involves the use of mantras (repeated words, phrases or sounds). By repeating a mantra, the practitioner can block out any distracting thoughts and achieve a deep state of “restful alertness.”
- Yoga: Yoga combines both physical exertion and mental meditation. It is often recommended to migraine patients as the poses are designed to help relax the body, which can reduce overall stress and alleviate migraine pain.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that goes beyond Vipassana meditation to help build total awareness. Meditators concentrate on their breathing in order to become completely focused and present in the moment. Thoughts may pass in and out of the mind, without judgment. Over time, practitioners will learn how to experience daily life with better balance and perspective.
Houston Headache Institute
The main reason that meditation works for headache sufferers is because it reduces stress, the number one trigger of intense migraines. Patients who practice meditation on a regular basis will benefit because they will feel more relaxed on a day-to-day basis.
If you suffer from migraines or headaches in Houston, please contact the Houston Headache Institute. We can diagnose the underlying causes of your pain and create a program to reduce its intensity and occurrences.