10 Good Reasons to Use Meditation before Opting for Medication

Among natural remedies for restoring health and maintaining well being, you may be unaware that you are missing one of the most obvious supports available to you. And it is as obvious as the nose on your face. Literally. The health remedy and support I am referring to is mindful breathing.

As the founder of the Maine Mindfulness Project and a Meditation Practitioner at True North Health Center in Falmouth, I help people of all ages learn how to utilize breath in order to help the mind and body achieve deeper levels of stillness and relaxation. This begins by using the nose as our center of breathing. The mindfulness aspect of the meditation practice occurs as we place ninety percent of our attention on the breath as it moves into and out of the body to create spaciousness and helps to settle and quiet the mind. We leave ten percent of our awareness watching how successful we are at keeping our focus on the breath. This ten percent is like a hidden camera that simply informs us when the mind begins to wander away from breath. We then gently guide it back to reapply it on the breath.

At first, it takes a little practice to get used to how easily distracted and busy our minds are. They are always like this. The difference now is we are able to actually experience and witness how wild they are! Not really under our control or anyone else’s for that matter, the mind is free to get distracted and attracted by whatever little whim, worry or wonder draws its attention. What happens next? Often the mind is free to engage continuously with its own fascination and rumination, sometimes going on and on and on, without any reigns to draw it back. Meditation is a practice to become familiar with the mind and then gradually learn how to gain more mastery over it. We begin to do this by using a mindfulness breathing practice. Just five minutes a day, preferably each morning, can start to transform your relationship to stress, anxiety, insomnia, unclear decision making and a host of other attention challenges and energy grabbers.

By creating a peaceful and still inner space and applying present moment awareness, people are able to gain or regain a sense of balance, health and well being. To date, I have taught meditation in several Maine high schools, colleges, interfaith venues, and medical settings. After learning the five basic techniques and simply trying only a two minute meditation, no one has yet to report that there was no immediate benefit.

Here are ten good reasons for you to try to learn to meditate before deciding to medicate.

1. Meditation is much more cost effective than medication.

2. Meditation works to cure health ailments without the risk of harmful side effects.

3. Meditation helps you achieve feelings of peace and relaxation.

4. Meditation has (almost) no risk of overdose.

5. Meditation is a practice to be shared and is enhanced by being in the presence of other meditators. (Whereas sharing pills is illegal!)

6. Meditation takes a little time, effort and commitment, but so does creating and establishing a healthy lifestyle.

7. Meditation is available without a prescription.

8. Meditation improves self esteem and lowers depression. (These results were reported in a recent study of college women at Brown University).

9. Meditation sharpens perception and memory recall.

10. Meditation is non-addictive and effective for pain management and speedy recovery.

The root ‘med-‘ is the same as in medical: to measure (mete), to consider, to reflect. It seems to be related to a Greek root meaning to care for, attend to, study or practice. Meditation attunes us to an embodied awareness of feelings of peace, balance and well-being in a way that medication often does not. Once we become familiar with this internal awareness we are more capable of sensing influences that disrupt this ease and can then more readily identify factors that create disease.

I am not advocating that meditation replace medication in all instances. What I hope you’ll do is think about it first. Then decide how you might use meditation instead or in addition to medication to gain the maximum benefit for your health and happiness, not to mention your wallet!

Please contact LBlake@truenorthhealthcenter.org with questions or comments, or to come in to try a session.