The problem: need relief from pain?
This mysterious disorder of numerous sore spots around the body can be paralysing in its intensity. Yet effective fibromyalgia treatments are hard to come by.
It cannot be reconciled with arthritis, inflammation, or trapped nerves. In recent times, it has been classified as a recognised disorder or syndrome, but the lack of understanding surrounding it means there is still a residual and somewhat disdainful diagnosis of psychosomatic disorder among many.
We know that stress is a central precipitating factor – and there are a number of ways in which stress plays a part.
Firstly, fibromyalgia is more likely to strike those with anxious or neurotic tendencies as evidenced by the abnormally high levels of activity in the emotional-contextual pain centres of the brain.
It has also been noted that people with fibromyalgia are characterised by hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system at its baseline level, especially at night. Somewhere along the way, our automated programming has been distorted, and the ‘fight or flight’ response is now permanently engaged. The sympathetic branch of the nervous system is ticking over at an uncomfortably high rate of knots, even when resting.
Up top, there are also numerous developments in our neurological functioning. The right prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for pain perception, begins to come more into balance with its counterpart to the left correcting any imbalanced tendencies in our perception and projection of pain.
How can Vedic meditation help with fibromyalgia pain relief?
Unlike other fibromyalgia treatments, meditation gets to the root of the anxiety response by calming down the activity of the amygdala, which releases anxiety-inducing neurochemicals when activated.
The only way to undo hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system is to find a tool which can break through this autonomic programming and settle the nervous system to its very deepest level.
Vedic meditation achieves this by using customised mantras, which have a very soothing, harmonising effect on all aspects of the nervous system. Very easily, we can break through any automated triggering of the stress response, and the more we practise, the more we integrate this more settled status into our everyday being.
Any defects in the pain receptors of the nervous system and the transmissions between them should also begin to repair and rebalance. Any cognitive dysfunction we may experience such as inhibited memory and slower processing of information is greatly alleviated and, over time, becomes superior to our prior performance levels.
This interface for all memory processes becomes greatly activated when we meditate and with time is found to grow larger. Similarly, the cortex atrophy we often see is likely to diminish as meditation actually increases the number of brain cells in this area of the cerebrum and the activity within it. There can also be disruptions to our levels of serotonin and dopamine levels, pre-disposing us to episodes of anxiety and depression, and this also tends to right itself when we meditate.
In the meantime, while all these processes are being unwound and restored to their most natural state, this practice also helps with pain relief. Not only is meditation among the most tangible fibromyalgia treatments, but it also works on numerous levels.
The relief of pain can be mediated within the body either through our naturally produced opioid or cannabinoid transmitters. It has been shown that opioid levels in people with fibromyalgia are fine, so it is either a case that the receptor sites for these neurochemicals are not working as they should, which meditation helps to activate or, it is an issue with cannabinoid production and/or receptivity.
Current attention is on the latter. There are some interesting preliminary findings on artificial cannabinoids as a partial cure for this condition. But what is clearly going to be more effective is if the body can be catalysed to synthesise and take up a balancing and harmonising level of naturally produced cannabinoids in the body, and this is exactly what Vedic meditation will help to do.
People also report that meditation helps ameliorate the emotional pain of a lack of clinical and social support and understanding when it comes to less well-understood disorders and syndromes.