arrow16 Comments
  1. Gijs
    Jul 03 - 4:59 am

    ”Numerous studies have shown these practices tend to push the body in the direction – towards reduced sympathetic nervous system functioning and enhanced parasympathetic nervous system functioning – that could be helpful”

    This is the keyproblem in ME for a subgroup. Autonomic overdrive, but we have to know why? It can be for compensation.

  2. Jeff
    Jul 03 - 9:33 am

    EEG Neurofeedback can help some of the gross manifestations of sympathetic overarousal, racing mind, etc. It might not (or might!) be a cure-all, but even a small improvement in reducing excess fast wave function (which is what’s most often behind these kinds of issues) can make a big difference, even enabling you to meditate again.

    Think of a car stuck in neutral – but with the foot down hard on the accelerator. It tends to burn you out, and you also don’t get anywhere. If you can get the foot to ease up on (and finally off) the gas pedal, you can then much more easily put the car in gear and start to drive again. EEG NF can help retrain the brain to reduce those overdriving frequencies and give you a chance at meditating. GL!

    • Cort Johnson
      Jul 04 - 10:14 am

      Thanks Jeff – I’d never heard of that before. It sounds promising. I’ll check it out.

  3. Betsy
    Jul 03 - 2:06 pm

    I recently purchased an “inner balance” device from Heartmath. You plug it into your computer and put a clip on your ear and it gives you feedback as to which of 3 states of coherence you are in. There are 4 challenge levels. They also have something called an “Emwave.” You can check it out on if you’re interested. Course, you’ve got to use it – I’m slacking lately.

    • Cort Johnson
      Jul 04 - 10:18 am

      Thanks – lots of interesting tools to use. Please let us know how it works for you.

  4. Deborah
    Jul 03 - 2:40 pm

    I guess I have a meditation form of healing I have been using with my Fibromyalgia for years. I am a Christian and believe there are 2 reasons for suffering that God be glorified by the healing or we share in Christ’s glory by suffering. A little girl who writes poetry calls it being a broken dove and that heaven taking pity on it opens it gates to those the dove carries through, she says God inspired her poetry. I like the analogy. I just know that prayer is my deep meditation. I offer my pain to the Father as a gift. Then I pray for others on and on or I pray my love for Him, before long I no longer feel my body but a cocoon of weightless warmth sometimes it lulls me to sleep but even then I pray. Funny a voice will tell me to wake because I could stay there forever, like yesterday, the voice said Get up it’s 6:00. Sure enough, it was 6, and my husband had been trying to call me. I had laid down at 3 in terrible pain when I woke, I felt great. I know it sounds crazy to those who don’t believe, maybe to those who do. But this is my gift and it doesn’t fail me.

    • Vlynx
      Jul 03 - 10:38 pm

      It may be a tradition of the Prophet Mohammed, but it is a Muslim saying regardless: “Prayer is better than sleep.”

      Your post also reminds me of the practice of Tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist practice in which (in one version) you accept your pain and also accept everyone’s pain – take it all into yourself – with the wish to relieve the pain of others. It’s kind of the opposite of the usual, “breathe out the bad, breathe in the good.” Rather you breathe in all the pain of the world (or start smaller – the pain of others like you) and breath out, sending wishes of peace and bliss. I like this because it feels like my pain can serve a purpose, if only I could take on all the pain of the world, I would not mind my own pain, if it relieves that of everyone else!

      I envy your ability at prayer!

      • Deborah
        Jul 05 - 8:58 am

        This didn’t happen overnight. I went through a period of extreme depression where I felt because of Fibromyalgia I had lost my life. I had a job as a Family Support Worker with Save the Children that helped young women become better mothers, I went into their homes looking for their strengths and building relationships so that over time whatever it took I would assist and encourage them to better their quality of life, get off government assistance, be strong, independent and often times letting go of negative relationships. Then after 16 years my body rebelled. I worked till my husband had to come get me literally and take me to the Doctors in a wheelchair. Fight or flight, didn’t know we got a choice. But I felt suicidal, I couldn’t pray, I had no words, so I read the Psalms over and over. My counselor told me to journal. So I wrote letters to God and as I wrote He spoke. Worried my counselor at first, but His words were not my thoughts wise, kind, comfort, love, funny, and He told me Fibromyalgia would be my blessing. My prayers grew deeper, and one day I woke up and everything was brighter, I felt a new joy and purpose, I could be content healed or not. I could help others like me, pray for their healing, or easement and be a living sacrifice and Fibromyalgia became my blessing.

    • Cort Johnson
      Jul 04 - 10:19 am

      Powerful stuff Deborah. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Marcy H.
      Jul 04 - 8:34 pm

      Over the years, since I haven’t been able to meditate very well, prayer has become an important practice for me. I figure if I can’t do anything else for anyone, at least I can pray!

  5. Eric Howard
    Jul 04 - 4:40 pm

    Sounds like hocuspocus, the big problem I have with this is that it take a large amount of cognitive energy to meditate. Concentration isn’t free.
    Whoever, if it works for some then that’s a win.

  6. Marcy H.
    Jul 04 - 8:27 pm

    Well, this article has really got me thinking.

    I started meditating with TM in 1978.

    In 1980 I met Swami Muktananda, and lived in one of his ashrams (in Ann Arbor, Michigan) on and off for several years. I stayed in that meditation group, Siddha Yoga(TM) for 17 years. I pursued meditation, chanting, and other practices ardently.

    As some of you reading this may know, Siddha Yoga(TM) had a fair number of scandals over the years. I concentrated on doing the practices and, right or wrong, tried to ignore most of that. Finally, news from several fronts made me conclude that the group was becoming far too cultish and destructive. I left in 1997.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, right about then, my health really took a turn for the worse.

    I have always had iffy health, but it seemed that I could manage somehow. I could keep a job if they didn’t fire me over too many absences. I was studying Chinese medicine and working part time. My attendance at school was also sporadic; it was taking me too many years to complete my degree. In 1999, I finally had to quit school and work. It was my interning year. I’ve been disabled and unable to work ever since.

    My symptoms were so varied and elusive, it took 15 years to get some good working diagnoses. Celiac disease, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hypermobile type), fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, narcolepsy, neurally-mediated hypotension, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, to name a few. (Yes, one of my docs has noted that I did not win the genetic lottery this time around.)

    Needless to say, my formerly excellent concentration, honed by years of mindfulness and meditation, was completely borked. My memory has never been great, and it got much worse. It is kind of neat, though, that I can read something or watch a movie, then read or watch the exact same thing again and it will be almost completely new to me again. So hey, it wasn’t all bad, I guess.

    One of the things I did to try to hold on to some benefit of my practices was to buy and use a light-sound machine. The type I purchased was a Proteus from ( I have been using it for years, an hour of delta stimulation every morning (program P11, one-hour meditation.) I think it really has done a lot to help me hold on to some of my mindfulness. It’s almost like I’m forcing my brain to meditate, since I can’t do it by my own volition any more.

    After many years my docs and I worked out diagnoses, and I’ve finally got some treatments that really work for me. I lost 90 lbs. and have kept it off over a year. I have much more energy these days, and my concentration has improved to the point that I can actually read a novel again. (I just finished my first novel in several years, “A Song of Ice and Fire”. It was great! I’ve missed reading like missing a limb.)

    Last night I learned that an ‘Net friend lost her husband after a long and grueling illness. I immediately resolved to chant for him. For the first time in years, I spent about two hours chanting. It was such a wonderful, deep, restorative experience. I learned some things about the mantra that expanded my understanding of it immensely. It was a beautiful and blessed experience; it felt like the practices and Kundalini Devi were welcoming me back.

    This morning I simply felt burned out, and I’ve been spacey and listless all day. I think I did too much yesterday, practices-wise. Oops. Now comes finding the balance, always a tricky bit of business. Once I know how much I can safely resume without making my health worse, I’ll restore the practices I can back into my life.

    Ah, I can sense that some may be wondering how meditation can make my health worse. Hm, how to explain? The meditation energy moves very strongly in my body, and can really tax my energy and sending me flaring. It doesn’t happen this way with everyone. It’s because I pursued meditation and other things in a very intense way — in a sense, I’ve asked for it. Now I just have to make sure I don’t burn up in the fire of the practices.

    I could write tons and tons more, but I think I have to just go off and ponder some more. I’ll also ponder the “coincidence” of seeing this article the day after my experiences last night. Hmmm.

    Thanks for passing this on, Cort.

    • Ria Roegiers
      Jul 11 - 3:13 am

      Hi Mark

      Yuan Tze, a qigong teacher is one of the few I know of who warns about sitting meditation (in his book ‘Voyage to the shore, three parts). Have you ever tried to replace meditation with a practice like yoga or tai chi or qigong?

  7. sophy
    Jul 05 - 1:10 am

    meditation gives me headaches

  8. sarah bellany
    Jul 05 - 1:32 am

    I really like Lisa Esiles take on meditation, though I also use counting breaths, metta etc. Lisa also has a really good blog on anxiety and a book on 7 secrets your mind doesn’t want u to know (which is so easy and free to read online if you can read this, you can read it) – she’s another me/cfs recoverer. )

    What I like about her approach is the assumption that we are ok underneath it all and just need tolearn to be aware or our minds. Its too hard to rewire when you’re sick! My mantra is, ‘the you that is you is ok’


  9. Soul
    Jul 05 - 5:57 am

    I find meditation very helpful though I recognize what she describes. I learned open eyed down to earth meditation before I got ill and even though it is harder to focus now it does help me tremendously because it brings more moments of reflection and inner peace in a day to day life even if I’m to ill or scattered to actually sit for meditation for prolongued times. It’s important to find a way that is fitted to your personal needs which are different for everyone. I practise the one that is thaught on which doesn’t require any specific body posture or anything so can be practised lying down to. If you are able to visit them they also have centers in over 130 countries where they teach meditation free of charge as a community service. What helps me a lot when the mind is racing is to listen to meditation commentaries on a headset, even if I can’t focus at all it still helps me have a few more supporting thoughts, and that can make just the difference between getting emotionally overwhelmed because of all the physical discomfort and chaos or being able to stay balanced whilst in the mids of chaos.

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