Meditation in Endometriosis: Old Spirituality or New Science?
If you want to live your life as fulfilled and happy as possible, then be where it happens: In the here and now! – Doris Kirch
What is Meditation?
Meditation fundamentally entails a state of heightened concentration and deliberate focus of attention. This state of consciousness during meditation is often characterized as precise, serene, and profound .
The term “meditation” can be traced back to the Latin word meditari, which encompasses concepts such as “reflection”, “pondering,” and “thinking over.” However, a more fitting interpretation emerges when we consider “meditari” as “coming to the center,” with “medi” signifying “center .
Unraveling the origins and history of meditation proves to be a complex endeavor. Meditation transcends time and religious boundaries, predating many established religions and intertwining with diverse belief systems . It finds prominence in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism and is a universal practice that resonates with individuals across various cultures and eras .
Even today, a common desire prevails among many: the longing for tranquility and genuine relaxation. During breaks or as we drift into sleep, we often find our thoughts gravitating back to our concerns, hindering our ability to unwind. This phenomenon can be attributed to the constant activity of our brains, which, by nature, are in a perpetual state of thought, averaging over 6,000 thoughts per day . Yet, research demonstrates that this ceaseless mental meandering can lead to unhappiness .
Meditation is a structured practice for intentionally redirecting our focus to our chosen focal point. It encourages us to be fully present, embracing the here and now with curiosity and without judgment. Through diligent concentration on the moment during meditation, the tendency to ruminate on past hardships and future worries can diminish.
Mindfulness is that awareness that arises when attention is directed with intention and without judgment to the experiences that unfold moment to moment – Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn .
However, the true nature of meditation can only be understood through personal experience, much like how taste or smell is better comprehended through direct experience rather than description .
What Are the Techniques of Meditation?
Meditation takes various forms, with a fundamental distinction between passive and active approaches. In passive meditation, practitioners assume a serene physical posture, such as the lotus position, as they immerse themselves in prayer, contemplation, or inner imagery. Alternatively, they may wholly focus on their present moment experiences, engaging in exercises like the “body scan” to attentively traverse their body, monitoring breath sensations, or observing their thoughts and emotions .
On the other hand, active meditation involves the deliberate direction of attention and can be seamlessly integrated into any activity. Commonly practiced forms include walking meditation, where mindfulness is cultivated while walking. Practices like yoga and Qigong also fall under the umbrella of active meditation. In Zen Buddhism, meditation is intricately tied to the tea ceremony, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), flute playing, and archery . Furthermore, everyday tasks such as washing dishes and cleaning can be imbued with meditative intent. Additionally, specific dances like the Sufi dervish dance and musical expressions, such as religious chants like Christian chorales, are considered forms of active meditation .
What is Mindfulness?
Originating from Buddhist meditation, mindfulness has evolved significantly over time. Today, it has transcended its religious and esoteric roots, emerging as a non-confessional therapeutic practice, thanks in part to the pioneering work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a physician and molecular biologist. Dr. Kabat-Zinn introduced the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, enabling individuals to learn and practice mindfulness meditation . The system encompasses a range of exercises, including body scan, breathing meditation, walking meditation, yoga practices, and mindfulness integrated into daily life. Numerous studies have explored the program’s positive effects, and it has gained widespread adoption across the globe. Moreover, mindfulness has found its way into various therapy approaches, exemplified by methods like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) .
What are the Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness?
Meditation and mindfulness have the remarkable capacity to enhance happiness and well-being. Numerous studies have revealed their positive impact on various aspects of mental and emotional health, including :
- Depressive symptoms
- Sleep quality 
- Empathy and self-compassion
- Life satisfaction and overall quality of life
These positive changes are not merely subjective perceptions; they are mirrored in the altered structures of the brain among regular practitioners .
Furthermore, these beneficial effects can alleviate pain, with various mechanisms at play. A comprehensive review, which examined 38 studies involving 3,500 participants coping with chronic pain, showcased mindfulness’s ability to improve pain levels and the overall quality of life while reducing depressive symptoms . Specialized mindfulness exercises have been developed for individuals dealing with chronic pain.
Beyond pain relief, mindfulness empowers individuals to foster a deeper connection with their bodies, promoting daily self-care. It becomes a means through which people, even those with illnesses and pain, can establish a positive rapport with their bodies and rebuild trust in their physical well-being.
Mindfulness can help us appreciate our bodies in their wholeness again, despite discomfort. You can learn to live in peace in your body again. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
How Can I Learn to Meditate?
There are various approaches to learning meditation. You have several options at your disposal:
- Enroll in an MBSR course, such as the one offered at the VHS.
- Explore meditation tutorials available on YouTube and within various meditation apps.
- Consider trying meditation through our Endo-App.
When you are starting, it is advisable to practice on days when you are feeling relatively relaxed and free from excessive stress or discomfort. Establishing a meditation routine during calmer moments can better prepare you to cope during challenging times. However, if you are currently grappling with severe anxiety, depression, or intense pain and find the meditation is not benefiting you, it is OK to pause your practice. Instead, seek alternative methods that provide more immediate relief. You can always revisit meditation at a later point.
It is essential to be patient with yourself. While consistent practice is commendable, it does not mean you have to execute it flawlessly every time. Even individuals with decades of experience occasionally find their minds wandering. Meditation can be demanding, but it is akin to a muscle that strengthens with continuous exercise. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination, especially when it comes to meditation.
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