PFS made me sad and anxious. Since doctors haven’t figured out exactly what is wrong with us, I spent hours upon end researching things that could cure us. Reading all of this made me feel even more anxious and sad, and in turn made my PFS worse. It was a vicious cycle of reading sad things, feeling terrible, then reading more. In my desperate state, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on useless labwork that I regretted a few weeks later…
I stumbled upon meditation because many people on Reddit recommend doing so as part of a daily routine. I figured this practice would especially help me (and anyone else) going through a rough patch. Now, thanks to meditation, I no longer obsess over my condition, feel more calm and less anxious, feel happier, have better memory, and am a little more at peace. Of course, I still get sad sometimes over still feeling ill, but thanks to meditation, I feel at peace with this sadness and can accept it without going down terrible, downward mental cycles.
I firmly believe all of us will benefit through the practice of meditation. PFS is hard and it can be a mind killer. I once believed I was absolutely worthless because of this condition. That I had nothing worth living for and that I would never ever get better. Meditation has helped calm that sort of thinking down, and has made me accepting of my condition, while feeling hopeful for the future. Here is how I (and you) can begin meditating. I also think that feeling more calm has led to the reduction of symptoms for me.
Pick a time, location, and posture to meditate for ten minutes daily: make it a quiet spot where you can be alone. You can sit in a chair with alert, but comfortable posture, or on the floor with a pillow under your butt.
For beginners, I recommend the app “Headspace.” It is free and has videos and informatives for people beginning. The meditations are guided, and after a while, you may feel ready to “graduate” from the app and do the meditations without guidance.
If you’re not using a guided meditation, start the timer for ten minutes. Begin by closing your eyes and taking 6 full breaths. These are the “warm up” breaths meant to loosen up.
After the warm up breaths, simply pay attention to the feeling of air entering your nostrils and air leaving your body. Don’t try to control your breathing, simply pay attention to how the air is moving in and out of you.
Inevitably, a thought will pop up into your head. As soon as you become aware that you are focusing on this thought, disengage it and return your focus to your breathing. A great analogy is pretending that you are on a bench beside a road. The cars passing by represent your thoughts. Do not leave the bench and chase the cars, simply watch them pass by without casting judgement on them.
Continue until time is up. You will lose concentration over and over again, but just return to to your breathing. Think of our minds as a muddy jar, you have to let it settle before it gets clear.
It’s very difficult, but after a week or so of doing it, you may feel more at peace and calmer. The trick is to do it daily. After doing it daily for 9 months, I feel happier, calmer, and can identify when I’m going to crash, and I can take care of myself without going down a shit spiral.
I recommend the podcast “Tara Brach” who is a PhD psychologist who talks about dealing with stress, depression, sickness, etc. in the light of meditation, evolution, and a little bit of spirituality. It is not Christian, but looks at stress and anxiety through a Buddhist/evolutionary lens that is refreshing. She has an acronym called “RAIN” that honestly changed my life. It is used when you can see that you are suffering mentally or going down an anxious spiral or bad thoughts. Here it goes.
In recognize, simply be aware of what is happening. Are you feeling bad physically? Are you feeling anxious? Just recognize what is going on and identify it.
In allow, simply accept that currently, this is what you are going through. It seems radical to do so, I was always in denial at the beginning that I was ill or feeling bad. But through allowance and acceptance, we can actually grow and move on from what is happening to us. Our minds do not need to be forever paused by accepting this condition.
In investigate, do so with gentle attention. Question your thoughts. See what is causing them to arise. For example, I frequently ask myself, “Is it true that I’ll always be unhappy?” or “Am I really a worthless person now because I have PFS?” You’ll find throughout “investigate” that a lot of our thoughts are simply bullshit and untrue.
Finally, nurture. Put your hand over your heart. Tell yourself that you are worth loving and are an incredible person. Forgive yourself. Tell yourself to have hope for the future.
I hope my little tips help out someone. We will get better one day and we will find out what is wrong with us. Until then, we need to be grounded, calm, hopeful, and as functional as possible. Meditation and RAIN has absolutely helped me be the best version of myself throughout this sickeness.