My Experience with Healing Meditation
I am not an expert in this field, but have a little experience that I would like to share.
Meditation as a countermeasure to illness is not a substitute for the essential practices of a healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep; neither is it a replacement for seeing your doctor when you are sick or annually for your regular check up. Meditation is simply a means of feeling better and getting in touch with your body on a deeper level, and it can also enhance the beneficial effects of Western medicine.
A prerequisite to using meditation as a force for healing is a daily meditation practice. In order to reach an adequately deep meditative state to effect healing, one needs to practice getting into that state so that it comes naturally.
Healing Meditation Is No Joke
At the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, they have compiled prodigious scientific evidence that verify the physical health benefits of meditation. They have proven to any sane person's satisfaction the healthy effect of redirecting blood flow in the brain away from the amygdala and toward the pre-frontal cortex through meditation. According to the Benson-Henry Institute, 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress related illnesses. Meditation is a key part of Benson-Henry's plan to reduce stress and avoid illness.
At hospitals around the world, healing meditation is introduced to patients to help them heal themselves even as the doctors work to treat their illnesses or disease. Today, healing meditation is a mainstream practice in Western medicine.
My personal experience is that you can use mindfulness practice to avoid illness by simply being aware of the invasion of your body by illness and dealing with it as it comes. Since my previous attempts to visualize an incoming cold or virus as an enemy were ineffective, I tried a different tactic.
As people were sneezing and coughing on me all through late winter and early spring, I found I was able to greet the cold as it entered my body, welcome it, and assimilate it into the whole. As I felt the scratchiness start in my throat or the congestion in my sinuses, I acknowledged the new presence without judgment and mentally showed it the happiness of the healthy body and its place therein. I knew that it would not attack itself, so I made it part of me.
Of course, this practice did not take the place of common sense. In addition to the visualization of assimilating the potential illness into the whole, I continued my practice of living and eating healthy and taking a multi-vitamin; and at the first sign of a cold, began gargling with warm salt water twice a day.
However, at the very end of the cold season I did get a cold. I was at a dinner party and one of the guests was repeatedly sneezing and coughing into his sleeve across the table from me. I was tired and did not have the energy to meet the first onslaught of the cold. I attempted to greet the attack of the sickness with welcome, but I sensed right away that this sickness was different. I knew I would not be able to dissuade it from attacking. I would have to experience this illness.
To get over the cold as quickly as possible, I visualized myself during meditation as in a perfectly healthy state. As I visualized my healthy self, I felt better immediately. I still had the cold, but I felt better. I continued to visualize myself free from illness.
I minimized my emotional reaction to the cold. Instead of being miserable, I did my best to make myself as happy and comfortable as possible. If I could not breathe through my nose, I accepted breathing through my mouth without negativity. When I thought about my symptoms, I thought of them as minor discomforts that would soon be in my past rather than as my present reality, consciously rejecting the idea of being ill. As I visualized the influence of the cold diminishing, I constantly reminded myself of how wonderful it feels to be healthy. I did not complain about being sick, but concentrated on things I could enjoy. I did my best to function as normally as I could.
I found as well that I was able to reduce the severity of symptoms by visualizing the sun beaming down healing rays, drying up the cold. A friend uses the visualization of being submerged in a healing river. I think that visualizing yourself bathed in any kind of healing, permeating influence can be effective in helping to reduce symptoms and speed recovery from illness.
I also used mainstream countermeasures. I gargled twice a day with salt water, took multivitamins religiously, avoided alcohol and made sure I ate right and got enough sleep. When you want to get well, you don't put obstacles between yourself and getting well. There are no substitutes for diet, exercise and sleep. Healthy habits fight off illness.
Others I know who practice healing meditation visualize a healing white light beaming down on them, and I know they find this effective. Someone who practices healing meditation may also visualize this healing light beaming down on others who are ill, and they find this to be effective as well.
Not Like a Pill
Can I say for sure that meditation and mindfulness helped me avoid and / or cure myself of illness? No. I will say that because I meditated on wellness I felt better as my body rid itself of the cold. I feel that mindfulness helped me avoid colds all spring and helped me overcome the cold I finally caught more quickly than I might have. My recommendation is that if you are sick, try meditation because it will probably help you feel better.
For the common cold, I feel that meditation is better than medication because it will not dry you up, make you nervous or keep you awake when you should be sleeping. Perhaps your experience will be similar.