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If Stress Can Worsen Pots, Can Meditation Help?


Mare
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Hello,

Is this a dumb question? We don't exactly know what caused my symptoms, but I think pushing myself beyond what I knew was healthy probably contributed. So I am wondering if I make an effort to meditate every day as a treatment for stress, will it help? I have been in a symptomatic period for several months, and wishing it would get better.

Thanks,

Mare

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The Feb/ March issue of Time magazine has a whole article about the restorative power of meditation. "Consider one study, for instance, showing that even a single day of mindfulness meditation practice can down-regulate a gene that codes for inflammation..." That's just a quote that sums up the article. Actually, the whole magazine is very informative and applicable to this condition since we have to focus on every aspect of our health. I was a yoga instructor for many years and although I don't teach anymore, I often do meditative breathing throughout the day. I woke up several times last night all unregulated and used mindful breathing to calm my heart rate down and relieve pain. I cant get through a day without it. I can do it on the move now that I have practiced enough but most people will need to start with a quiet comfortable place free of distractions. Once you learn to control your breath and block out the environment, you will be able to move about. I do most of my intentional breath work while driving.

I have found that diaphragm breath works the best where as chest breath makes me more anxious. For diaphragm breath you will want to inhale and extend your belly out, then fill upward until your lungs are near capacity. This is done slowly. Don't hold your breath. on the exhale let the air out of your lungs and collapse your diaphragm. It takes practice. Eventually, you will be able to get on an equal 8 to 12 second rhythm. An easy way to imagine it is like a wave. As you inhale, the wave is moving up your body and as you exhale it is flowing over your head and down your back. A wave never waits on the shore so as soon as the wave of air fills your lungs, let it run out...taking all the stress with it. If you want to add mindful thinking to this one of the easiest things to do is say in your head "I am" and you slowly breath in and on the exhale add a positive attribute such as "healthy" or "calm".

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Meditation has been very tricky for me. I find that deep, diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation actually trigger my tachycardia. I kept trying to go back to it for the many benefits of focusing my mind and for my spiritual practice, but was getting more and more discouraged. Finally, I worked with a yoga therapist who figured out that if I concentrate my breathing on my upper chest and not my diaphragm, I do much better. My therapist says she has noticed my breathing has gotten much deeper even though I never attempt to make that happen. In addition, instead of trying to relax my body, i concentrate on feeling the energy coursing through it. If I forget and just let my body totally relax, I am usually brought out of it quickly with an elevated heart rate.

My yoga therapist is always trying to find ways to work with me and what she has come up with is the opposite of everything she has ever learned.

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I think it is a good question. More and more I am exploring ways to accomplish this. I do not see myself going as far as yoga. I have to hold on to some dignity. LOL.

So no, it is a good question. I have no tips, but I am interested in the subject.

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Thank you all! I think that I will make an effort to try meditation for 2 weeks, and see what happens. Perhaps it could be useful during certain periods when I know that I will be experiencing more stress, like holidays when my house has always been Holiday Central for our family, ( maybe not next year)

It's interesting that @helenhz, meditation actually increased her heart rate, while @sunshinegirl, it did seem to calm her. From what I understand (and I am a newbie) , when our blood volume begins to decrease, tachycardia starts, because epinephrine is released, the flight or flight response to raise blood pressure. Is it even a good idea to attempt to meditate then? I sure feel like I need to try to calm down. We need that kick of epinephrine and unfortunately, anxiety comes along with it. But mediating while feeling okay I would think would be helpful in combating stress, and I think help the body heal. But its interesting helenhz, that as you deep breath, your heart rate increases. I took a meditation class years ago, and someone was taking it to lower her BP. If a person with Pots lowers their BP, that could cause tachycardia. As with everything else about this strange syndrome, everyone is unique.

Thank you Sunshinegirl for the specific advice on the deep breathing. I am pretty good at imagining a wave rolling in and out, but I was holding my breath for a few seconds after inhaling. I will try not to, and see if that helps. I can see meditation helping with the overall anxiety. Making meditation a daily practice will take effort, and I have not been great about that. I do know that my anxiety is much, much lower when I have a more normal homeostasis. I will try it for 2 weeks, but it doesn't sound like itcould reverse Pots and make it go away, thats the naive thought I had.

My therapist suggested that I try the "tapping solution" technique, and I have to say that it really helps, if only briefly. I used this on my recent flight, and it did calm my nerves when I really needed it. Its super easy to do, but its a quick fix, not like meditation which I think the more you do, the better benefit you get.

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Good conversation going on! What is the difference between POTS and related disorders and real "psychological" anxiety? What is the difference between mindfulness and breath? What is the difference between all of this and yoga practices?

Ill start the conversation with a note about the difference between Eastern philosophy/ medicine (mind, body, spirit) and Western where your mind and body are separate and who knows if you have a spirit. (basically decapitated philosophically speaking)?

So where in your condition does your "body" mess with your "mind" and make you and others think you are "anxious"? or are you just anxious about something? How does your breath control your heart rate? Is it about blood pressure only or heart rate control or nerve dysfunction?

What kind of POTS or dysautonomia do you have? If you have Hyperpots it seems like its a game changer. If you have nerve issues, it is also a game changer. If you have mast cell issues....well...that is just as complicated because now you cant eat! You are basically allergic to living. I may NOT be correct...but this is how I am interpreting the experiences of others and my own on my journey to better understand myself as a WHOLE person and others with compassion.

It is very possible that this condition can cause real anxiety in ones life!!!!!! It is HARD to live, function, work, keep going....It is HARD! and if you care about that and are human...you will be subject to anxiety...but that does NOT mean that every heart rate problem or feeling of doom or jitters is anxiety. I wake up in the middle of a fun dream that turns to dread when I wake with a heart rate of 155 -200 for no reason. I have to get up and bring up my blood pressure and decrease my heart rate....

How do you do it?

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I think so! It has helped me a ton. But I don't do meditation like the typical way of maybe the crossed leg pose. I just do it within my brain calmly, saying ok, be calm.

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Oh meditation is wonderful most of the time. Sometimes the clarity it brings can be emotional.

I do not sit, cross my legs and such. Typically, I am lying in bed. I have some guided meditations I love. Sometimes I join 30 day challenges. Here is an example of one. http://www.mindfulnessbasedachievement.com/30day2015

I discovered Deepak Chopra has some of his meditation albums on Amazon prime music.

I download my favorite meditations to my phone. I do them everywhere. Sitting in a car. Waiting at the doctors office. A 4-7-8 while getting blood drawn.

And its a practice for sure. I have no idea if I am doing it right. It helps me slow down on a emotionally charged moments. It does help me become centered.

So yes, I think it's a good for stress. Including the kind I pile on myself when I battle a bad day. Being needy drives me whackado!

Give it a whirl. What's the worst the could happen?

Good luck!

-K

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Thank you all for your insights and articles! This does help me to understand that meditation can at the very least, help me to relax, maybe accept my situation better and possibly improve, especially when stressed. Thats what I am hoping for, protecting me from myself in times of stress. Thank you Sunshinegirl for your thought provoking post. I think that Western "modern" medicine is beginning to accept and add "Eastern Philosophy as treatments. Our insurance pays for acupuncture. But your right, in that most docs don't view the entire connection to mind and body, not even counting doctors like the first one I saw who told me this was all in my head even though my aldosterone was low and I was admitted for 3 days in the hospital. Katybug, thanks for sharing that article and your experience. It really is helpful to know how others practice meditation, and even if the meditation isn't the cross legged, humming "Ommmm", it sounds like it really helps. I have tried meditation but I think it needs to become a habit. Kkb1216, I will download the music too. This is all so helpful.

I start my 2 week commitment tomorrow, as I just returned late last night from visiting my daughter on the east coast.Talk about stress. A cross country flight will do it. I did do the "tapping" several times on my journey, and I found that it was a simple "brainless" activity that really does work, if only briefly. Meditation takes effort, but with practice I hope to ratchet down my anxiety and help to manage my stress so I stop further damage.

Sunshinegirl, I am still in the process of diagnosis, so I don't know what I really have, except isolated low aldosterone, and all of the symptoms of Pots excluding the stomach issues. My endocrinologist referred me to neuro and my tilt exam is in 2 weeks. My endo doc really thinks Pots is the defining diagnosis for me. My pulse will soar and I feel lightheaded after anywhere from 5 min to 40 min standing. I know that I have about 40 minutes (at most) before I have to sit. I do grocery shopping in 20 minute these days, when I can.

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Mare,

If you want more exercises similar to the tapping exercise, a great book is "Where Ever You Go, There You Are", by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It has short (7-10 pages) chapters that have an easy meditative mindfulness exercise at the end of each chapter. Things like counting your footsteps as you walk from one place to the next....if you lose count, you start over at one with a goal of being able to center your mind on the counting well enough over time that the number you get to increases because your focus increases. That's just one example. I would imagine there are other books of the same kind but I read this in college and still incorporate some of the meditations into my daily life 20 years later. I like it because it gives you things you can do while you're doing other things so you can learn to be mindful throughout your day.

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These are all really great ideas. You have to find what meditation is to you. There are so many ways to do it. In the warmer months, I go to the arboretum and walk path with my eyes closed. I put my arms out to the side so if I feel a leaf I know I need to adjust my heading. I take in all the smells of the plants and feel the warm sun peaking through the tall trees. I like to shut out some sensory input so my other senses take over and I have to trust them. I am always amazed at how calming it is. I am lucky to have safe paths that are easy to stay on if I close my eyes. Other times I just walk in the grass barefoot and feel the cool, plush softness and focus on that. So what I am saying is meditation is anything that makes you feel centered. You don't have to follow any kind of recipe. See how creative you can get.

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