Using Meditation for Health When Faced with Chronic Illness

Instead of viewing your chronic illness as a disease in your body, choose to view it as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and learn to love yourself through meditation.

In my senior year at college I was involved in a school tradition called “Marathon,” where every freshman was assigned to a senior, and that freshman makes fun of you in a series of theater skits. My freshman’s performance was eye-opening. She whined, “I can’t do this, and I can’t do that. My neck hurts, my back hurts, my shoulders ache.” Everyone in the audience was laughing, but I was hurt and surprised. That’s how my classmates saw me? As a whiner and a complainer—a joke? A hypochondriac? Everyone else’s skit portrayed something truly funny, but I had a real health problem. And I was being laughed at for it.

There’s a reason why chronic illnesses are considered the “invisible diseases” and sometimes perceived as hypochondria: if others actually can’t see the pain you’re in, they think you’re a faker. The truth is, I actually did think of myself as a “sick chick” for a long time, so I bear responsibility for transmitting that message out to the masses. Until we stop defining ourselves as sick, other people will continue to see us that way too.

Instead of viewing your condition as a disease in your body, choose to view it as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and learn to love yourself. When I discovered the Glow Warrior within, I knew it definitely came directly from the power of the Universe (you can call it God, the One, or Gaia—it all works!). It’s there within you too. You won’t drown, get lost, or lose your way. You will, however, start seeing yourself as bigger than your physical challenges or limitations.


 

Do Nothing—with Purpose

First of all, don’t just sit there. Sit there and get comfortable in the present moment. The first step to truly healing is to fully surrender to where you are in this moment. And to let it be. When you allow yourself to be truly present in your body, your heart will soften and open, and you can begin to use that feeling as your guide. This is how you will begin to heal yourself. Focusing on your breath is what will bring you back to the present at any moment you choose. Your breath is your life force and your anchor, and unfortunately it is something that, for a lot of us, tends to get lost in the shuffle when we are dealing with severe stress in the body. The first place to start getting reconnected to yourself is through your breath.

Focus on breathing in through your nose, lowering your breath all the way down into your tummy, and expanding your ribcage out to the sides. Then slowly exhale out through your mouth. The first time I sat and did nothing but breathe, I thought I was going to scream hard enough to ace the part of the hysterical heroine in the next zombie apocalypse movie. After a few tries I started looking forward to it because doing nothing with purpose really does put you in touch with your higher self, your inner guide, the present moment, and the spiritual forces that are all on your side. It’s called meditating, which is a practice that helps us build and maintain our internal energy and develop patience, forgiveness, and compassion.


 

If you have a chronic condition or are physically struggling, you have to make a clear intention to sit in the initial discomfort and distractions beginning meditation often brings. There you are, sitting cross-legged, replaying a particularly annoying conversation at work, or thinking about the laundry you need to pick up (or dry cleaning you need to drop off), and all of a sudden you’re not meditating anymore. Eventually, you re-center yourself and let those random thoughts float by, and you do begin to see yourself differently. You begin to feel more loving and more forgiving, less critical of yourself. You get yourself out of the “what ifs” of the future or “coulda shouldas” from the past and get comfortable in the present moment.

Don’t stop even if you feel very uncomfortable and strange in the beginning. Be persistent. Give time and space for your inner voice to make itself heard. That will happen either right in the moment or sometime later during the day. Doing nothing is so powerful it has an amazing residual effect—sort of like taking a time-release capsule of inner peace and wisdom. Some synchronistic event will occur; someone will tell you exactly what you need to hear; you will get a sudden flash of insight. Along with that, you’ll realize you are so much more than your tingling legs, irritable bowel, or migraine headache.

Connecting with my soul has been one of the best things I have ever done for my physical condition and my mind. Finding my soul was like finding my home, and when I found it, everything else started to flow, and my body started to heal.

 

A simple meditative breathing practice to connect to your soul:

Sit still and tall somewhere comfortable; a chair with good back support works well. Close your eyes and begin breathing through your nose. Inhale for a count of two, and exhale gently for a count of four. Keep breathing evenly and smoothly. Set a timer and breathe this way for at least five minutes.

One nice element you can add to this exercise is a mantra. On the inhale say to yourself, “I am,” and on the exhale, say to yourself, “perfectly well.” In doing so, you’re tuning into the idea that you’re not just your physical ailments, and you’re making room for your true self to breathe. Afterward you will notice a positive difference in your mood.

Kicking Sick: Your Go-To Guide to Thriving with Chronic Health Conditions

Adapted from Kicking Sick: Your Go-To Guide to Thriving with Chronic Health Conditions by Amy Kurtz. Copyright © 2017 by Amy Kurtz. To be published by Sounds True in January 2017.

About the Author
Amy Kurtz is a wellness expert, an AADP-certified Holistic Health Coach, and a regular contributor on popular wellness websites such as MindBodyGreen and Yoganonymous. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit amykurtz.com.

Huperzine A

I have been increasingly interested in the use of Huperzine A. Even though I am still doing very well (given all that MG can bring to ones life) I decided to research, ask questions and find out more about it in general. Have you heard of Huperzine A? If not, read below as I am going to share a bit on what I have found.

 

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a substance purified from a plant called Chinese club moss. Although the makers of huperzine A start with a plant, their product is the result of a lot of laboratory manipulation. It is a highly purified drug, unlike herbs that typically contain hundreds of chemical ingredients. As a result, some people regard huperzine A as a drug, and they argue that it stretches the guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

Be careful not to confuse huperzine A, which is also called selagine, with similar sounding medications such as selegiline (Eldepryl). Also be careful not to confuse one of the brand names for huperizine A (Cerebra) with the brand names for unrelated prescription drugs such as celecoxib (Celebrex), citalopram (Celexa), and fosphenytoin (Cerebyx).

Huperzine A is used for Alzheimer’s disease, memory and learning enhancement, and age-related memory impairment. It is also used for treating a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis, for increasing alertness and energy, and for protecting against agents that damage the nerves such as nerve gases.

Products that combine huperzine A with certain drugs used for treating Alzheimer’s disease are being studied. These “hybrid” products are of interest because they may be effective at lower doses and, therefore, cause fewer side effects. One hybrid, called huprine X, combines huperzine A with the drug donepezil. Another hybrid being studied contains huperzine A and the drug tacrine.

How does it work?

Huperzine A is thought to be beneficial for problems with memory, loss of mental abilities (dementia), and the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis because it causes an increase in the levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is one of the chemicals that our nerves use to communicate in the brain, muscles, and other areas.

source


 

After researching various sites on the Huperzine A background, I then decided to ask others with MG

  1. if they had tried it and
  2. if and how it has helped them

I was met with varying responses and conflicting feelings regarding this over the counter drug. Many people cautioned with intensity NOT to take Huperzine A with Mestinon of any form. This is due to the fact that it may create an overwhelming amount of acetylcholine leading to adverse reactions. In addition, trying out and experimenting with any new medication while having MG especially, should always be brought to the attention of your neurologist and discussed. Everyone who is involved with your health should be on the same page. 

Now there were a few people who stated that Huperzine A really did seem to help their MG and they currently take it in place of Mestinon. It was also stated by these individuals that Huperzine A seems to have a longer half-life and stays in the system keeping them stronger for longer periods of time (7-8hrs vs. 3-4 with Mestinon). I will state tho that for me, Mestinon will keeps strong for 5-6 hours depending on how healthy my lifestyle is at the time.

 

A healthy lifestyle will make all the difference

Regardless of the medications or supplements you decide to use, living a healthy lifestyle will enhance the effects and overall quality of your life and existence all the way around. If you’re not living healthy now thats ok! It just means you have somewhere to start – anywhere really :) Personally, I’d recommend starting out with improving your diet, adding meditation to your life and gentle stretching as well. If that feels like too much simply pick one and start there. Do what feels right for you with where you are at in life and in health.

 

With that said, I will write more once I have more to share on Huperzine A. For now I simply am at the place of gathering information on this over the counter drug. Please, If you have had experiences with it good or bad, do share so we can all learn.

 

 

Video: Myasthenia Gravis and Exercise

 

I have written previously on the undeniable benefits of exercise for those living with MG as well as my own personal journey back to health which most defiantly included (and still does to this day), exercise or ‘physical therapy’.  

So after being inspired by my good friend who is on a similar journey of improving his health after not being able to walk, today, I wanted to share a helpful and informative video with all of you. 

 

My dear friends…I want to remind you that when you take the time to focus on improving the various elements of health, your body will respond and your health will improve. Speaking from personal experience, by incorporating physical therapy, upgrading nutrition and working to reduce stress and calm the mind, you can and over time will, improve your strength and overall MG health.

*Always talk to your doctor before starting a physical wellness plan and never exercise if in a crisis. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to request physical therapy as part of your treatment plan!

Myasthenia Gravis and Exercise 

Video from the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois

 

 

 Have you read:

Exercise for MG: the 9 tips you need to know 

 


Start Somewhere

My mantra for this beautiful Monday morning.

START SOMEWHERE

If you are ever unsure where to start, simply “start somewhere”


Pineapple & Turmeric Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

If you have yet to read about the health benefits of turmeric, you must! This smoothie recipe from FOODMATTERS, uses turmeric “in the most refreshing way while offering a host of health benefits!”.

They also share with us that turmeric would have to be one of Mother Nature’s best gifts. With uses from detoxing the body, lowering inflammation to supporting a healthy immune system.

While turmeric is obviously awesome for the body, pineapples really are too. They, “contain the digestive enzyme bromeliad, a natural enzyme that supports the digestive system in breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the food we eat”.
Sounds like a winning combo to me! Here is the recipe. Try it out and let us know what you think!

 

PINEAPPLE & TURMERIC ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SMOOTHIE
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169 calories
33 g
0 g
5 g
3 g
2 g
452 g
29 g
19 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
452g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 169
Calories from Fat 40
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 29mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 33g
11%
Dietary Fiber 7g
29%
Sugars 19g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
149%
Calcium
10%
Iron
13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup diced pineapple
  2. 1 tsp turmeric powder or freshly grated
  3. 1 tbsp chia seeds
  4. 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  5. 1/2 lime, peeled
  6. 1 cup water or coconut water
  7. Optional: maca powder
  8. A dash of black pepper (it sounds weird but necessary to help with the absorption of curcumin in turmeric)
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!
beta
calories
169
fat
5g
protein
3g
carbs
33g
more
EattobeatMG http://eattobeatmg.com/

What’s My Reason?

WHY DID I START MY

HEALTH JOURNEY WITH EATTOBEATMG?

Well…

I was sick of being sick. I was tired of hospital stays and longed for the possibility of adventure with friends by my side. I would dream of days where my legs and arms wouldn’t fail me, where I wouldn’t have anxiety wondering if my body could keep up with simple daily tasks. Plus, prednisone was fully kicking my butt and I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. With all of the ups and downs, I lost who I was and I wanted her back again – but this time even better than before. I truly felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So, I decided to take the first step.

And guess what? You can too.