Meditation is one of my complementary fibromyalgia pain management strategies. It is not the only one, but it is definitely one that I utilize. I do different types of meditation and I also use different types of things to enhance my meditation. One thing I have recently tried with my meditation is Bilateral Beats.
Often in current research, they are looking at the benefits of Mindful Meditation. I agree it does seem to help a lot with my pain management strategies. Mindful Meditation is focusing your awareness on the present moment, moment-to-moment, in a non-judgemental way. Acknowledging thoughts that come to your mind without judgement and releasing them. I particularly like breath awareness and body awareness.
The idea behind using mindful meditation on chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia is:
- developing sustained attention to arising sensory, affective, and cognitive events,
- recognizing such experiences as momentary and fleeting, and
- attenuating reactions/judgments to said experiences
It can help with:
What about Mindfulness for Fibromyalgia pain?
The usual type of Mindfulness used in research is a “standard” 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program.
Well, MBSR programs when it comes to fibromyalgia have been shown in studies to help with improving depression  and FM symptoms, like fatigue, stress, sleep, pain, and overall well-being [74, 75]. So that is pretty awesome.
But a recent review found low quality of evidence for MBSR-induced quality of life and pain improvements in fibromyalgia patients when compared to usual care, health education training, and social support [5, 54, 55, 74, 76–78]. So there may not be much evidence, or there is contrary evidence, for actual pain improvement and overall quality of life improvement.
This isn’t surprising. I have come across research in the past that said mindfulness helped with pain unpleasantness but not pain intensity in fibromyalgia. However, when we look at chronic pain, in general, it can help with pain intensity. In my experience, which would be with chronic pain overall (chronic migraines, FM, EDS) it helped with my perception of pain and with depression. It helped how I Reacted to the pain, but not the pain in of itself. Quite frankly that is beneficial since if I cannot reduce the pain, I want to reduce the suffering from the pain, as in how I react to the pain and the emotional response to pain.
In a large and well-controlled study, 120 patients were randomized to 8 weeks of MBSR
Participants assigned to the MBSR intervention reported no significant pain reductions but rather improvements in quality of life when compared to the other groups. Yet, these benefits were not maintained at the 2-month follow-up, suggesting that MBSR does not produce stabilized improvements in quality of life for fibromyalgia patients. Other studies have shown more inconsistent findings across fibromyalgia-based clinical trialsReview Source
However, an online program which one might say was more accessible and longer in duration had some interesting results in that while, again, no significant improvements in the pain levels there were significant improvements in stress and pain coping efficacy, positive affect, family stress, and loneliness. Those are pretty important aspects of coping with fibromyalgia right there.
Mindfulness-based techniques can help with overall:
- Acceptance of pain,
- Nonjudgmental awareness of sensory experiences, and
- Non-attachment to concepts related to self, symptoms, or environment may be the most effective in improving fibromyalgia-related pain and psychological co-morbidities.
I do a regular meditation routine. I don’t really think it helps with pain all that much. But I definitely think it helps me relax and unwind before bed. I know it helps relax my tense muscles from chronic pain. I know it definitely helps with stress management. I definitely recommend the app Mayv to help guide you through that meditation process when it comes to pain as they are specifically designed to help with chronic pain management- and an excellent app I added to my routine.