Meditation for OCD

Posted by on Mar 25, 2012 in OCD | 1 comment

Can Meditation Help Combat OCD

Why would someone want to try meditation for OCD? After all, meditation has a bad rap. It’s often associated with new age mumbo jumbo and mysticism. It’s used by people who eat granola bars and drink wheat grass juice. The practice of meditation even conflicts with certain Christian beliefs.

This is unfortunate, since meditation is a legitimate form of relaxing the mind and body. It is a discipline of focused breath and slowing thoughts down. That makes meditation for OCD sufferers an appealing discipline to explore. While many are put off by anything categorized as alternative healing, it can be a helpful tool to achieve useful states of mind for those dealing with OCD and anxiety. And if there is one thing a racing mind or anxious body can use is extra relaxation.

Like any discipline, meditation will take practice. Unfortunately many with OCD are impulsive and want immediate results, so a good place to start is by asking the following question

Why Master the Art of Meditation?

Some of the many benefits include:

  • Increased peacefulness and calmer mind set
  • Additional energy
  • Better relationship with oneself and life
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Greater stability in coping  with stress or unexpected events
  • Minimize impulsiveness
  • Helps in pain management
  • Helps promote better sleep habits
  • Helps neutralize emotional issues

Those with OCD tend to be adept at rituals. Practicing meditation can also be a ritual, but one full of productive results. The process doesn’t need to be difficult and there is no one right way of doing. You follow a format, one you can alter to satisfy your own particular needs. Then practice and give it a chance.

The Process of Meditation:

  • Start by finding a place to sit, a comfortable place. Do not lie down; you want to relax, not fall asleep. Make sure to keep you back as straight as possible. Many associate relaxation and slouching as one and the same. As with all anxiety disorders you want self support and it starts with your body.
  • For some, mild distractions, such as candles, music, incense, padded pillows can be helpful, but in the beginning there is no need to incorporate these accessories. Once you start getting the knack for relaxing, then these items can add to creating an ambiance conducive to the meditative state.
  • There is no right amount of time to start with. If sitting still for 2 minutes is difficult, then 90 seconds at a time may be your starting point. First get used to doing the process and the start increasing the time. Two short doable meditative sessions in the day are better than trying to do a prolonged session. Since you do not want to focus on a clock or time, get a timer, otherwise your focus will be in the wrong place.
  • Clear your mind. Close your eyes or if you choose, pick a single object in the room to concentrate on. The singularity of focus is one of the principles in unifying scattered, conflicted and jumbled ideas
  • Focus on your breath. Breathing is life and if this is as far as you get in the process, you are already ahead of the game. You don’t have to think about breathing, but it can be useful to put your focus there. Pay attention to how you inhale, make it comfortable, breath in slowly, don’t gasp or force the air in. Take a small pause and then gently exhale, almost let the air leak out. The first times you meditate, all you need to do is practice focusing on your breathe.
  • As you focus on your breathe, your mind may begin to wonder, you may have thoughts about whether or not you are doing this right (don’t worry, you can’t meditate incorrectly, anymore than you can think incorrectly, it’s a matter of finding support for yourself). If you get unwanted thoughts, come back to focusing on your breathing. The process of meditation is meant to clear the mind and release thoughts, so just keeping come back to your breath..

Special Considerations When Using Meditation for OCD

Meditation can calm racing thoughts and negative emotions. If impulsive urges interfere, start small. Those always needing to be distracted or busy may find 5 minutes of sitting still unbearable, at least in the beginning. Meditating for a minute or two is a great place to start. Delaying the need to immediately give into impulses for longer and longer time periods also helps transfer the skill into other areas life. Forget about trying to do it right. Just start by doing the best you can.

Those with OCD want peace of mind, but they are often too impatient to take the journey to get there. Professional help can even out the rough stops. At Designed Thinking we will often talk to our clients about their commitment to change. Avoiding uncomfortable urges or thoughts can be a big motivator, one many are committed to. It is understandable and it needs to be addressed, because a commitment to avoidance of pain will not help accomplish positive changes.

Using meditation for OCD should be viewed as a life style, a habit one desires to incorporate into their life. However, meditation is not a cure for OCD. even though it can help silence the mind. Meditation for OCD should be used in conjunction with other types of behavioral, cognitive, emotional or mental therapies and training.

If you are not in therapy yet, there is no reason to delay trying meditation. It cannot hurt and it is a proactive means of taking charge of your own focus, of your own mental and emotional states. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to meditate, meaning you begin to achieve greater levels of self control.

OCD can be a complex and deeply challenging process for some to overcome, so while you are weighing out the options to seek assistance, take some action for yourself. You can use all the tools you need to get your life on track and sometimes you need to more than one approach. So go ahead, close your eyes and let yourself let go and feel differently about yourself.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the article. By taking MRI brain scans before and after meditations, studies show that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Participants shifted their attention to one sensation, such as breathing, emotions or thoughts, instead of just letting their minds wander.
    Meditation over medication is a huge untapped field and learning meditiation works best when life is managable. Unfortunately most people want to learn meditation to combat stress rather than make it a life style. Helping those with OCD is the tip of the iceberg, as many mental illnesses could benifit by using mindfulness as a means of changing how we deal with life

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