Health issues are inevitable. But how you deal with them is up to you. Meditation is often recommended as a supplement to treatment of pain, disease, and other health ailments, but few people understand why. Here’s how a meditation practice can make coping with a health concern less scary and painful.

1. Meditation changes your perspective.

Meditation works at so many different levels, but one of them is that you start to love and respect your mind and body more. Through mediation, you have the power to make your mind your best friend instead of making it your worst enemy. And through improved mental health, you can gain the perspective needed to approach health issues from a place of love.

Normally, pain and sickness are seen as inconveniences. Let’s say you’re having pain in your wrist. You probably think: “This is so annoying.” This is not a healthy attitude. Think of it this way: If a child falls down, you approach that child with love. You tell them it’s going to be okay. You ask them what they need. You don’t ask them why they fell.

Meditation allows you to treat your body like that child who stumbled. You can begin to look at that painful wrist as part of you that happens to be suffering. Instead of feeling resentful, the rest of you is looking at that painful part, giving it love, and saying, “It’s going to be OK.” Instead of having a negative attitude toward it, you actually treat the part of you that needs healing like it’s your own small child.

2. Meditation helps you recognize oneness.

The whole mind, body, and soul mechanism is organic and intertwined, and mediation allows us to actually feel the connection between these three components. What happens in the mind, we can feel in the body and vice versa. That’s why good mental health can be so helpful in dealing with a physical issue. Mental health can also be helped by improving physical health.

During meditation, you innately tap into this connection between your mind, body, and soul. Take the universe, for example. When we are looking at it from the outside, we see it as separate components: humans, planets, stars, and so on. But the universal body is also just one complete unit.

When you realize that everything within you—your mind, soul, and body—is actually just one unit, you notice that when something is wrong with your body, every other component of your being is rushing toward it to heal and protect it. And just as there are millions of cells that make up one body, we are each just like one little cell vibrating in this universe, which is connected with all other cells in the universe. The whole universal organism rushes toward us to protect, heal, and provide the sources we need to get better.

This oneness is the greatest achievement of meditation. By changing your perception of what’s outer and inner, you begin to feel secure in the fact that all the components of your being are intelligently talking to each other to provide you with a way to feel better.

3. Meditation helps you let go of fear.

When it comes to life-threatening illnesses, the fear of death is a major obstacle. Meditation gives you the courage and the ability to detach from your fear, and the strength to accept your problem as it is. You become a compassionate third party to your illness, rather than an active participant.

When you approach a serious illness from a very fearful or depressed place, you can make it even worse, because your body is affected by those emotions. Meditation can enable you to step back and see yourself as one small part of the larger universe, and recognize that your body is only one part of your being. If you have a life-threatening or life-changing health issue, meditation can help you think: “How can I do my best?” rather than “I’m so scared.”


Related: A Three-Minute Meditation for Dissolving Fear


4. Meditation helps ease the pain.

One technique that I’ve used frequently with those who are dealing with health problems it to meditate on the part of your body that hurts or the source of the disease you’re suffering from. Hone in on it and focus on it.

Say you have an injury in your spine, and the pain is traveling down your whole back. Meditate on that one small area where it’s starting, and you’ll feel that you can talk to this pain and soothe it. It may sound strange, but it really makes a difference.

Think of meditation as exercise for your mind. Your body reacts to the fitness of your mind, and it doesn’t take long for your perception to change.

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