Meditation has been in the news a lot recently for having a host of health benefits, so it makes sense that people with breathing problems like asthma and seasonal allergies are wondering whether it could be of benefit to them as well. Can adding meditation to you regular routine help you to breathe easier?
What is mindfulness meditation?
Meditation is a practice that crosses both centuries and continents, and so the forms it takes are also diverse. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have a long history of meditative practice, as do Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Meditation at its heart is a process of focused attention. This focus can be on a word or sound (as in transcendental meditation), an idea or feeling (like loving-kindness meditation), or on an object.
In mindfulness meditation, the area of focus is on the body. Rather than pushing the body to do a particular thing or to feel a certain way, the goal is to become aware in the moment of how the body feels, without associating positive or negative emotions to this physical sensation. Some styles of mindfulness meditation recommend scanning the entire body, and focusing on each part in turn. How does my toe feel? My foot? My ankle? Is there pressure? Pain? Is it warm or cold? How is it positioned? This continues until you have become aware of the state of your entire body.
Rather than scanning through the entire body, this style of mindfulness meditation asks you to become fully aware of the sensation of breathing. Again, this is different from other types of breathwork where you go out of your way to breathe more deeply or slowly.
How does mindfulness meditation affect breathing?
Struggling to breathe (and even knowing that you might have difficulty breathing sometime in the future, like springtime) is an incredibly stressful experience. Research has shown that regular mindfulness meditation helped asthmatic patients reduce their anxiety. It also indicates that it may help people with asthma reduce their use of short-term rescue medication. This is especially true for people whose asthma was not well controlled.
How does this work?
A regular practice of mindfulness gives you the tools to separate your physical sensations from your personal judgments of those sensations. If you’re struggling to breathe, this can lead you to feel unhappy, aggravated, or afraid.
Mindfulness meditation isn’t a panacea. If you have allergies or asthma, meditating on your breath is not going to make those conditions disappear. What it can do, however, is help improve your quality of life and increase your ability to manage them effectively.
Practice assessing your physical state in an objective way can help you tell the difference between a bout of exercise-induced coughing and the beginning of a full-blown asthma attack or the difference between a running nose and a horrible day. Learning to be mindful can help you respond to your body and your surroundings in a way that makes sense, helping you feel more in control of your life.
Should I try mindfulness meditation?
If you have ten minutes a day to dedicate to a new practice, it’s definitely worth trying. There are no negative side effects of meditation, so it might make a huge difference in your quality of life.
Of course, mindfulness meditation is a complementary health practice, meaning it works best when combined with your doctor’s recommendations or treatment plan. Meditation, exercise, healthy eating habits, and natural treatments like Airloom can all have a positive impact on breathing. Find out more about how Airloom can help you breathe better.