My entry into yoga and meditation started in the seventh grade when I stumbled on a peculiar Oxygen program around 5am. Growing up I found it extremely difficult to fall asleep and tried different tactics to fix this issue. The practice of joining in on early morning TV yoga sessions actually did help me sleep, but in the future it would become my anchor in achieving holistic healing. During my second year of undergraduate studies, my MS diagnosis made this practice almost essential in my healing process.
As someone who had always experienced anxiety with doctor visits, especially those including needles, I now had to face this reality more than I ever dreamed I would. During my stay at the hospital, I was pricked and prodded at all times of the night with small needles in my veins to long ones in my spine for a lumbar puncture procedure. My first MS treatment was Rebif Rebidose, which required three self-injections on a weekly basis. I would spend hours in a state of mental paralysis whenever it was time to perform a self-injection and sometimes I failed, missing a dose of what I needed to avoid the progression of physical paralysis.
The diagnosis required a complete restructuring in how I connected my mental state of being with my physical outcomes. I exchanged TV yoga for YouTube yoga and began taking the lessons I was relearning on the mat in the confines of my dorm room with me to any physically invasive procedure scheduled for that day.
During my MRI exams, which could last up to two hours in some instances, I used breath work to focus on parts of my body that were tense or itchy to avoid moving and further prolonging the experience. I applied meditative breathing to get through several self-injections and, when I later switched to monthly infusions, I applied the same tactics of breathing to calm myself when nurses struggled to find a good vein for the IV.
Recently I went without treatment for a month due to poor care coordination between my neurologist, the infusion center, and the pharmaceutical company delivering the medication (I will revisit that story in another post). My body felt every moment of that lapse with daily sensations of numbness and tingling in my legs and arms. During one of the worst moments, I decided to lay down and just meditate for as long as possible. No instruction, no YouTube, just me and my breath. I felt myself go from calm to control. I was able to focus my mind on the spot that was experiencing the symptom and actually stop the feeling from continuing.
Meditation has become such a powerful tool in my path towards optimal health. I encourage anyone dealing with a difficult situation to stop for a moment and give it a try. Meditation does not have to look like completely quieting your brain to rest. It can be active, pointed, and intentionally healing in nature. Let go of expectations and mold it to your needs. The results are limitless.
Stay tuned for a future post on the sources I used to get started with meditation!