Sorry gentlemen, while meditation can benefit anyone and everyone, this one is geared towards the ladies!
(Although if you’re a man who has a woman in his life who deals with this issue, you might want to pass this post along to help them out!)
Once a month, pretty much like clockwork, I find myself clenching my jaw and trying not to let the entire world know that I am currently dealing with painful PMS cramps. I’m pretty lucky, it usually only lasts for the first day of my cycle, but it still sucks and no one wants to have to deal with pain when you’ve probably got at least 500 things to do.
When I do get hit up with the kind of cramps that make me want to punch someone (and really, you can’t do that, no matter how much it hurts, please don’t do it), I use all the usual remedies that you’d expect, and some of them do help.
- Ibuprofen? Check.
- Heating pad? Check.
- Hot cup of tea? Check.
- Some sort of gentle exercise like yoga? Check.
- Whining while eating chips and drinking wine? Uh. Check.
Those things do work. Except maybe not the chips and wine, and whining never helps anything.
What does help is some simple meditation for menstrual cramps. That might surprise you but it shouldn’t. More and more research has shown that the mind can heal so much within our bodies. Meditation geared towards cramps has made a substantial difference in my levels of suffering.
I do this visualization meditation in bed most of the time because at that point I am already at least somewhat relaxed and I’m lying down with little else to distract me other than my teenager’s inability to open and close bedroom or bathroom doors quietly.
However, you can try it other places too. I’ve done this meditation while commuting on the bus, in between tasks at work, and sitting on my couch. It doesn’t involve any mantras that need to be chanted out loud (though you could use one in your head if you’d like), and although it helps to close your eyes, it isn’t necessary as long as you can visualize the healing as you meditate.
All in all this can be as short as a two-minute meditation if you’re pressed for time, or it can be as long as you want it to be. And the best part is that it is simple and straightforward and can be done easily whether you are very experienced or whether you are a meditation newbie.
Here’s what you do:
- Get comfortable. If you are lying down, you can place a pillow under your head and place your hands on your lower abdomen. If you are sitting, trying to sit up straight without being rigid, feet flat on the ground, and either place your hands on your lower abdomen or palm down on your thighs.
- If you can, close your eyes. If not, then just fix your gaze on something in front of you; don’t stare hard, keep your eyes soft.
- Start following your breath and allowing it to slow down. Not sure how to consciously breathe? Try this – inhale for a count of four through your nose, and exhale for a count of five through your mouth. Don’t be obsessive about your breath, just let it flow easily in and out of your body. Do this for several breaths and let yourself feel relaxed and calm.
- Picture a healing light floating in front of your abdomen, then as you inhale, see the light float into your belly and into the area of your cramps (sometimes your cramps are in your uterus, other times it might be into your upper legs or even your back). The light can be any color you’d like; I usually use shimmery silver.
- Once you see the light inside, imagine it soothing your cramps. As you exhale, see a dark grey cloud exiting your body with your breath, carrying any pain with it.
- You can continue with your current light color or you can try something a little different. If the pain is especially uncomfortable, turn your pictured light into a fiery color; I usually choose orange. Imagine that light producing some heat that will ease your cramping much like a heating pad would.
- When you feel you are ready to end the meditation, visualize sending the light back out again with your exhale, and then see it fading away.
You may find that just a couple of minutes of this meditation will be enough to make a noticeable difference to the pain and cramps that you feel. Some months are worse than others though, so you can just keep going for as long as you need. Since I usually do them in bed I just continue meditating until I drift off to sleep.
If you have never tried meditation before then this may sound hard to believe. After all, how can slow breathing and an imaginary light help your physical body? Isn’t it all just make-believe while the pain is real?
Don’t underestimate your brain. In many cases menstrual cramps are disruptive, painful, and annoying but are generally not caused by serious conditions. Meditation can change your brain’s interpretation of the pain and reduce its effect on you.
In some women, cramps may be caused by a variety of conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. In those cases you will want to see a doctor or specialist first, but even then you can use meditation to help ease the pain alongside more conventional treatment options.
This meditation for menstrual cramps has made a huge difference for me and has cut down on how much I rely on painkillers when my cycle rolls back into town.