Migraine is a medical condition that causes severe headaches. This pain disorder affects people across the globe. Migraine headaches are distinct, unlike usual headaches. They involve an intense and throbbing pain accompanied by nausea. According to stats, around 18% of women and 6% of men are afflicted with a migraine every year. It is not easy to cope with the excessive pain that this condition brings. Yet, doctors prescribe specific medicines to ease this condition. Apart from that, many practitioners also suggest meditation for migraine (1).
Although there is no concrete evidence, ongoing research is revealing the benefits of meditation. We will check how meditation benefits migraine. But before that, let us run through a few essential topics.
The following topics will help you get to the core of the point.
- Meditation: Its general benefits
- What’s the matter with your grey matter?
- Meditation & Migraine: How can it help?
- Pain relief
- Balancing brain chemicals
- Managing stress
- How to start out with meditation?
- Rhythmic breathing
- A walk but meditative
- Escape with an app
Let us begin!
Meditation: Its general benefits
These benefits might not directly benefit migraine conditions but help you cope with its side effects. Meditation is a complete mind-body exercise improving your functioning on a spiritual level (2). Some of the general benefits of daily meditation are:
- a boosted immune system
- improved sleep
- improved memory & alertness
- stress relief
- boosted confidence & self-esteem
- stimulating compassion
- promoting optimism & sharpening decision-making
What’s the matter with your grey matter?
Your brain consists of two forms of matter. They are white matter and grey matter. Your grey matter is what helps your brain grow. Grey matter is the control area for many of your daily activities. Migraines affect most of these areas. For instance, regions controlling emotions and decision making are prone to migraine attacks.
Migraines also act on reducing the grey matter volume. This affects many executive functions of the brain, like problem-solving and self-regulation. One way to regulate the grey matter concentration in migraine patients is meditation. Many studies found improved grey matter volumes in some regions of the brain with meditation. One of the significant cognitive benefits of meditation is improved brain growth. Another 2010 study found zen meditators having a denser grey matter and improved coping mechanisms. That’s not it. The longer you meditate, the thicker your grey matter gets.
Meditation & Migraine: How can it help?
Until now, we have been more concerned about meditation as a general mind-body healer. Now let us see how meditation directly benefits migraines. Meditation helps migraine patients in the following ways:
One of the significant benefits of meditation for migraine patients is pain relief (3). Several studies linked mindfulness to reduced chronic pains (4). Further, a small study found people practicing MBSR showed reduced episodic migraine pains. What is MBSR? MBSR is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. This is a strategic practice of meditation to help manage stress and its related issues. People doing MBSR had less frequent headaches with a lesser impact on the condition (5). On the whole, people practicing meditation have a better quality of life.
Balancing brain chemicals
For most migraine patients, an imbalance in brain chemicals is a key cause. Meditation has proved to have positive effects on specific neurotransmitters (6). These chemicals, like dopamine, melatonin, and serotonin, can be increased with meditation. Apart from maintaining a balance, meditation also provides proper sleep. One of the side effects and the eventual cause of migraines is insomnia. Mindfulness and related practices work on improved sleep and energy. With a reduction in flight-or-fight chemicals coping with migraines becomes easier (7).
Along with other causes, migraines mainly are triggered by stress and anxiety. What can meditation do? Meditation helps ease stress by curbing the area of the nervous system that handles them. Apart from that, meditators have a consistent heart rate. With considerably low variations, pressure also is taken under control. Regulating hypertension also helps to a great extent in managing anxiety (8).
How to start out with meditation?
Now that you know the benefits of daily meditation let’s see how to go about it (9).
A practical method of meditation is combining it with breathing techniques. Before you start with this, you need to consider a few things. Ensure you are comfortable, loosen tight clothing, sit or lie down and relax. In this position, start a rhythm of breathing. Continue with this deep breathing and regulate your wandering thoughts. Scheduling this for an early morning or after the dusk routine is advised.
A walk but meditative
You must be wondering how this works. But it is effortless. Put on your most cozy shoes and set out for a leisure walk. While walking, try concentrating on your movements. Focus on every body part, no matter how small. After some time, you will engross yourself in your bodily functions. Practicing this on empty sidewalks or roads is mandatory.
Escape with an app
For more detailed and innovative meditation exercises, consider installing a guide app. Various apps provide meditation guidelines. But make sure they are protected and are authentic. Here are a few you can try:
- Mindfulness Daily
- Stop, Breathe & Think
Meditation for migraine is gaining more traction among researchers with time. If your usual prescribed medications aren’t enough, you can try meditation. It might turn out to replace the pills (10). Apart from this, proper sleep and hydration are crucial for leading a quality life.
Jessica enlightens her readers with her yoga practice and meditation tips which have become a crossroads for all yogis. From meditation to poses, C4H discusses all elements of yoga in a non-judgmental, inclusive way. Jessica provides readers with yoga resources, challenges, and awesome insights while cultivating an online yogi community. She also counsels people with sleep, gym, stress overcoming tips in this blog.