Mindfulness meditation provides a plethora of benefits many of which can reduce the reaction, if not the intensity, of menopausal symptoms. Here are some of the ways in which meditation could benefit those who are distressed by hot flashes.
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation does change the brain, and the more regular the practice the greater the changes in the brain. And those practicing loving kindness meditations report feeling greater love for themselves, reducing stress and anxiety. ﾠ
Numerous studies show that relationships tend to improve as people begin to practice mindfulness meditation. The benefit here is that you become more understanding, less reactive and judgmental and experience higher levels of compassion and empathy. Again this reduces stress and increases a tolerant attitude, not only of others but towards yourself.
Here’s some highlighted information from a blog on just this topic.
“The University of Massachusetts research showed that mindfulness training, based on a Buddhist meditation concept, reduced the distress associated with hot flashes and improved physical, psychosocial and sexual functioning.
“The findings are important because hormone replacement therapy, used to treat menopause symptoms in the past, has been associated with health risks,” said study author James Carmody, an associate professor of medicine in the division of preventive and behavioral medicine.
Mindfulness therapy helps focus on the present. Practitioners avoid making judgments and simply accept whatever is passing through their mind while focusing on each breath. The technique is not difficult to learn, but requires some discipline in the beginning, experts noted.
The researchers aimed to influence women’s reaction to their symptoms, “including psychological distress, social embarrassment and anxiety.”
“We wanted to see if we could affect women’s resilience in response to these symptoms,” Carmody explained. “We were not trying to affect the symptoms themselves, although there was some effect on those as well.”
About 40 percent of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats, which undermine their quality of life, the researchers noted. But since hormone replacement therapy has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer and stroke, Carmody observed that “not only are women looking for alternative treatments, it is an NIH (National Institutes of Health) priority to find behavioral treatments.”
No other treatment has been found to substitute for hormone therapy, according to the study, but mindfulness training appears to allow women to be “less reactive” to menopausal symptoms.
ﾠAnother expert praised the study for using the “mind-body connection” to help women with serious menopause symptoms with “no side effects.”
“We’ve known about the mind-body connection,” said Dr. Jill M. Rabin. “We’re just beginning to unlock the power of the mind to have an impact on our physiological selves.”
The study authors were “self-critical regarding the limitations of the study,” said Rabin, chief of the division of ambulatory care and head of urogynecology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Among other things, the study lacked an active control group program, they wrote.
Noting that the women were mostly white and had a high level of education, Rabin said more study was needed to see if the results apply to the general population.
“It’s not that the results don’t apply, or will be different for a different population,” she said. “We just don’t know.” ﾠﾠ
Mindfulness meditation can actually reduce chronic pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) studies have shown the benefits of meditation for those dealing with chronic pain. These benefits may be partially due to the way that mindfulness meditation trains you to accept, and not resist, challenging bodily sensations, which of course, holds true for the chronic symptoms of menopause.
There are a number of other meditation benefits that can have a positive effect on menopausal symptoms, like helping to regulate eating habits, reducing anxiety and stress and generally increasing your set point for happiness. ﾠ