Take a Deep Breath: Meditation
For a variety of emotional, spiritual, and other reasons I've recently taken up a meditation practice. I've been doing an introductory mindfulness track of daily meditations using an app on my phone. This practice like many that are associated with relaxation focuses on breathing. Sounds like a simple enough concept. Everyone breathes all day every day. It is one of the most primal human activities and yet those of us with asthma sometimes come up short. I feel like I'm breathing well and wouldn't say I'm having asthma problems. Yet focusing on inhaling and exhaling makes me wonder about my asthma control. Maybe I just have below average lung capacity but when the mediation directs me to inhale and exhale I don't make it to the time suggestion. I still find the exercise helpful and breathe at my own pace. Perhaps as I solidify the practice as a habit consciously thinking about my breathing will feel less weird. I think it is not so much that I'm breathing any differently than I normally would and more so that I notice how air entering and leaving my lungs feels. This is, of course, the point of using breathing as your central focus.
I'm enjoying focused quiet time to center myself and take a break from all the other things that are going on in my life. I try to listen to the guidance from the meditation's narrator to accept and acknowledge where I am in my practice. It's only been a little over a week that I've been trying mindfulness practices. So far I haven't noticed any positive or negative impact on my asthma from this change. For me, I do feel like it is a positive habit in my life overall. I think it could be useful in keeping me calm and a positive outlook on life when I have an asthma flare. Meditation's core message of acknowledging and accepting where you are with your journey can be a valuable thing to affirm when you are having a hard time breathing.
There is a lack of evidence for or against meditation's therapeutic effects on asthma. Unfortunately, well-designed studies do not exist to provide the data we need to evaluate whether it is a treatment.1 I don't believe that meditation will ever replace the pharmaceutical treatments for my asthma. At the same time, I think it's important to acknowledge the spiritual and mental health needs that come with dealing with a chronic condition day in and day out. Meditation fulfills spiritual and emotional needs for me. As much as I try to lead a normal life I have to acknowledge that my normal isn't the same as most people. I have to make peace with the fact that there are times when my lungs simply won't let me push as far, fast, hard, or long as a non-asthmatic peer. I think too often I look at asthma as being just my lungs. This fails to acknowledge the complexity of my life. Yes, strictly speaking, the inflammation is in my lungs. That doesn't mean it doesn't impact other parts of me and my life. Have you tried mindfulness or other spiritual practices to stay emotionally healthy with asthma?
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