Virginia and I were talking about migraines and it reminded me of this class from years ago. I thought I’d post it. What the hay. Especially since I’m talking about nonpharmacological remedies.
I think many migraines are the result of an overactive mind. Rather, too much of one’s limited energy is being spent in thought and not enough in other aspects, in this case – rest. Mental rest.
To achieve mental rest…
- Set aside 45 minutes a day, with no distractions. As little noise as possible.
- Get comfortable, either sit or lie down. Don’t be too hot or too cold.
- Do not read, watch television, listen to music, or get on phone or other device.
- Close your eyes (or not, it’s just to reduce visual distraction).
- Feel your body move up/down or in/out as you breathe. Each time you exhale, feel your body sinking even more into the chair or floor. You will probably think about things, which is ok, but don’t linger on a particular thought. If it’s important, tell yourself you can think of it when you are done. It will be ok.
- For this time you have set aside, there is nothing you have to do, nowhere you need to go. Relax. Breathe. Smile to yourself. Be at peace.
This is not a time to sleep. Sleep and this use different parts of the brain. If you find yourself falling asleep, that’s your body telling you you’re not getting enough sleep.
I learned this for a class I took in graduate school. We all agreed to do this every day at home for the length of the semester, 12 weeks. We had to keep a journal. At the end of the class, we all revealed any changes we experienced. I had been having migraines, about 1 every other week at the time of this class. They had been getting progressively worse. Medication dulled them and allowed me to function but did not get rid of the brain ache. At the end of the semester, my migraines were gone. Maybe a lingering one but that was it. Not even a headache. Gone.
Of course, I reverted back to my frenzied life. But the migraines never returned. I think my body somehow learned what “mental rest” was and I could access it for shorter periods … 10 or 15 minutes here and there … and have it be effective.
I realize this is a HUGE investment in time. If I didn’t have to do it for a class/grade, I would never have done it. I was too busy! (which, I can hear our instructor saying, was the problem). It was really difficult at first. I couldn’t lie still. Something was always twitching. I’m glad that passed.
While looking for a photo of the pose I typically use, I found this:
I usually lie on my back to relax the muscles that support my head. I bend my knees to ease tension in my lower back. I didn’t know the pose had a name, or maybe I forgot. Shavasana. This is what Wikipedia says:
Shavasana and some sitting asanas maintain the balance between relaxation and meditation (two key components of yoga) by their equal input of physical stimuli.
Shavasana is performed on the back with the legs spread as wide as the yoga mat and arms relaxed to the side, and the eyes closed. The whole body is relaxed on the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath.
Drowsiness or restlessness of the mind while in Shavasana may be counteracted by increasing the rate and depth of breathing. While in Shavasana, it is important to be in a neutral position.
Shavasana is intended to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. In the pose, the breath deepens, and the stress of the day is released. The yogi forgets all other thoughts and surrenders any psychological effort. While in Savasana, yogis slip into blissful neutrality and reflect on the practice. Comfort is essential in the pose; the slightest point of discomfort can be endlessly distracting. Shavasana is a good way to reduce stress and tension.
How about that.
I can’t say I ever “slipped into blissful neutrality” but it is pretty calming.
I hope someone finds this useful.
Thanks to Virginia for the impetus to post it.