By Russell Fleming, Content Manager, ME Association.
I have lived with M.E. for a long time. Not as long as some, but longer than most.
One of the ways in which various specialists over the years have suggested I might better manage things is to try and meditate.
Now, I freely admit meditation never really appealed – I have concluded I am not the type – but for others it seems to provide a period of rest and peace that they can't achieve any other way.
As can be read below, meditation can apparently be quite transformative, but I could never calm my mind long enough to focus on the necessary exercises let alone gain any benefits from it.
But then I can rarely switch-off and tend to have to occupy myself. Even with M.E. if I am awake I must be doing something – if I'm doing nothing, then I am either very unwell or, I am asleep.
For me, and perhaps for you too, my form of meditation comes from being completely absorbed by a fictional novel or by a gripping film or episode from an exciting Netflix series.
These things are not always possible of course, or can only be achieved in small doses, but like music, I find I can dip into them, relax, and benefit from the distraction.
I used to get the same feeling of peace and rejuvenation – of stepping outside myself for a while – when I was more mobile and able to sit in the woods or gaze at the sea – in between reading a book or sketching.
Several therapists have told me that if I couldn't meditate but was able to achieve a relaxed state using other methods then I shouldn't worry about it. But I still wonder if I'm missing something.
On several occasions I have tried it. I remember listening to the trance-like music and joining in with the stretches… but I'd more often than not lose focus or fall asleep before achieving any tranquil state.
And the kind of meditation that was a part of mindfulness when I tried that – just made me even more aware of my symptoms. Definitely not relaxing!
So for me at least, meditation is not of the traditional variety. But what of you? Are you able to meditate as part of your illness management? And if you are, then what do you feel are the benefits?
Lisa, below, has really taken to it. So much so, she believes it has helped bring about a fundamental change to her levels of fatigue.
Maybe you share Lisa's view? Maybe I am missing a trick? Perhaps you'd let me know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
Hi,I work within Cornwall Council and you may be aware of one my colleague Jo who organised an ME Awareness week within Cornwall Council. I was diagnosed with ME in 2014 after suffering with symptoms for a number of years.In late 2015, I was signed off work with stress which in turn triggered my ME again. I was off this time for 13 months. I returned to work January 2017 and got in contact with Jo with regards to ME Awareness week.It was through this that she introduced me to her weekly relaxation sessions, where she talks you through a 30 minutes relaxation technique, aka meditation.I have been doing this every single day for 6 weeks, and I have noticed a significant improvement on my ME, it helps me manage my fatigue. My mood, anxiety and snappiness has totally changed alongside this.So, the reason why I am contacting you is because I wanted to share this. It might be that the ME Association is already aware of how meditation helps sufferers, but if you aren’t I wanted to let you know. I still feel fatigue, but I know that if I go and meditate for just 10 minutes there is a significant improvement and most days I can keep the fatigue at bay.Hope that you don’t mind me sharing this with you.Many thanks
The ME Association offers a full range of leaflets relating to management of ME/CFS, including stress management. These can be purchased from our online shop.