woman sitting on beach

How meditation may help

Simple methods for staying relaxed
Woman Meditating

For many people, the word "meditation" calls up images of alternative lifestyles or non-Western traditions. However, public perception of meditation has started to shift in recent years due to the scientific community's growing interest in the topic.

There’s still no conclusive proof that meditation makes a measurable, biochemical change in the body or the mind. But some psychologists have proposed that this form of relaxation may help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) reach a calmer state of mind. And this could help reduce the impact of stress. 

Many paths to calm

There are many ways to meditate. Just keep an open mind and see which type of meditation works best for you. Before you begin a meditation session, talk to your doctor, select a quiet place, dress comfortably, and find a comfortable place to sit.

Common meditation techniques include:

Thinking breath

A practice of focusing exclusively on your breath.

  • Feel the cool air rushing in through your nostrils as you inhale, and the warm air brushing against your upper lip as you exhale
  • Don’t be discouraged if other thoughts enter your mind. View them the same way you view scenery from the passenger seat of a moving car—let them vanish in the distance
  • Turn your thoughts again to your breath, keeping track of every detail as you breathe in and out—and feel the tension slip away

Visualization

The goal of visualization is to shift your thoughts away from everyday concerns to an imaginary world of your own choosing.

  • Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine a calm scene. It could be a place you've actually been to or a place you'd like to visit. If your mind wanders, start again
  • Experience the scene with your mind. If you chose a tropical scene, use your imagination to hear the waves brushing the shoreline and see the palm trees sway
  • Continue to explore for about 10 minutes. You'll begin to feel relief as stressful elements in your real environment are gradually replaced in your mind by the tranquil sights on your imaginary horizon
  • Now go one step further and imagine yourself actually entering the scene you've created

Repetition

Meditating on a word or phrase, also known as a "mantra," requires deep concentration and a bit more time—at least 15-20 minutes.

  • Close your eyes and select a word or phrase you associate with relaxation
  • Breathe deeply and let your mantra echo through your mind. Try to think of nothing but your mantra and your breathing. If you get distracted, start again. Your goal is to continue until you feel your stress begin to slip away
  • Concentrate for as long as you can within the 15-minute time frame. When you reach your limit, take a deep breath and take a moment to reorient yourself to the outside world before rejoining it

While your experiences with meditation may take you in many different directions, keep in mind that the goal of meditation is learning how to refocus your attention. Whatever you focus on while you meditate, select only images, places, and interactions that bring you into an imaginary world of calm.