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Meditation makes me exhausted?

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by raimonio, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. raimonio

    raimonio

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    Hi guys. I'm new here and have CFS. There has been one thing that has been bugging my mind. Being a devoted Buddhist, everytime I've tried meditation it makes me just as exhausted as going to the gym. This is somewhat heartbreaking for me, because many of my dreams consist of either doing sports or extensive meditation. I can understand how going to the gym exhausts a person with CFS but my mind cannot get over the fact that meditation has the same effect. I dont understand how that can be possible? Like what is the mechanism in my body that does that?

    Its like the instant I start concentrating my mind on a single object whether it is the breath, or a "chakra" or anything its just like concentrating a muscle. My body starts generating all this hyperactive energy and it feels like my body cant handle the exercise, then comes the exhaustion, I sleep 4hours later next day and have to take a 2hour nap during daytime. This is so stupid, because I've read that meditation should HELP people with CFS. Clearing out the energies and making them stronger within you should have a positive effect right? Not the case with me :(

    I'm happy for the fact that CFS doesnt stop me from reading, so I can still keep on studying in the university. I'm also in such shape that I can go to lectures, then go to buy groceries and come home. I'm not completely bed ridden. Anyways I hope I could find some explanation as to why this is happening for me with meditation. Same goes for Tai Chi and QiGong. Yoga doesnt make me that exhausted but hurts like hell. Basicly what is left for me to try are mantras and praying.
  2. sianrecovery

    sianrecovery Senior Member

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    Interesting post there Raimonio, I was doing long meditates when I was in the process of becoming ill. One did not cause the other, but I did experience a similar effect. Perhaps you have answered your own question when you say for you its like concentrating a muscle. I meditation DOES help lots of CFS/ME peeps with overactive minds, but as for you, its already a goal orientated pursuit, not so much in your case? Why dont you just follow what your body is telling you for a bit, rather than forcing the pace? And dont project forward. Its always a fearful place to go, the future.
  3. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Hi. I was a yogi (still are in many of my beliefs) before I got ME and hence meditation was an extremely important part of my life, something I did twice a day and was very experienced at (I used to take a class and teach it too).
    With the ME.. I found I couldnt focus anymore, it was impossible. I couldnt do any of the visualizations either.. lost my ability to imagine stuff and my mind would just go drifting away .

    It was many years later with this illness I finally discovered why. My EEGs were abnormal showing that my brain didnt go into the right brain wave states when I shut my eyes. Hence I think that is one of the reasons why I couldnt meditate no more and why it also wasnt relaxing to me no more either. (I think that was part of the neurotoxicity of ME).

    Also When one focuses on something too.. one is making ones brain "work" the cells areusing more energy.. so holding a single thought on something.. can be quite hard on the ME brain and cause post exertional symptoms.

    I used to do yoga (many different forms of it) and had to give that up too...including the hatha yoga. Sadly there was someone who was like 98 years old in my yoga class and thou I'd been doing it for years.. I just couldnt no longer do what she was doing. Many of the yogi exercises were too stenuous (the only one I could do easily is laying there with eyes shut!!), standing yoga exercises were out and any kind of balance exercise was a disaster for me to be doing as I completely lost all ability to balance well.

    I also was doing tai chi and qigong for a couple of years before I got ME. I had to give those up too.. Othostatic intollerence and also I developed big painful knots in my muscles which then stayed for weeks after doing them!! It was such a weird body response.

    The only form of meditation I was left still able to do was progressive relaxation (where one tenses and then lets go body parts.. and just doesnt force mind to do a thing)

    (unfortunately in my case things ended up geting so bad I had to give up college too, my memory got so poor that I couldnt remember anything for my exams and stopped being able to learn. Also found that I couldnt follow the lectures as talking started to be too fast, faster then my brain could keep up with).

    best luck, listen to your body, take care
    sianrecovery likes this.
  4. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Are you sitting? I think some PWCFS get into trouble when they try to maintain a perfectly still upright posture. Something happens in the autonomic nervous system.

    I meditate lying down. Given my sleep issues, if I fall asleep (very rare), I see it as a bonus prize. Also, my focus is open rather than concentrated; I sweep distractions aside and go very still, without effort. (I'm not saying this is easy; just that I don't use effort to make it happen.)

    Madie
  5. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    I haven't been able to do yoga or tai chi since ME struck me because the PEM is so bad aftwards.

    Comfort is inportant when meditating. Sitting up right is just like exercising and it can be very hard to find the right position to lie in often.

    The everyday pain really gets in the way as well. Meditating doesn't know me in the same way that it does to you if I do it lying down and I am comfortable.

    What's your concentration like in general? I have found breathing exercises give me PEM so maybe that could be the problem? Sorry I really don't know.
  6. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Mental "exercise" definitely counts when it comes to depleting energy stores. It takes energy for the brain to work, just like it does for the muscles. And I would say intense concentration definitely qualifies as something that would require the brain to work. I'm impressed that you're able to read, etc without problems, though. I have difficulty with meditation too, but also with reading, TV, etc.

    I wonder if the suggestion above has something to do with it, and part of your trouble might be from remaining still for so long (I'm assuming you're doing a standard sitting meditation, not a walking meditation or free movement?). It might be worth a try to set your timer and move around every five or ten minutes so that your blood doesn't pool. The movement can still be very mindful, like a walking meditation.

    In general, I would say that if you're getting that wigged out, "get away from this" sensation from any activity (mental or physical), it's probably a good idea to back off from it. I know how much that stinks, but in my experience, that sensation is always a signal that I'm pushing into dangerous territory. With the doctors who are speculating that some of the damage from overdoing it might be permanent or at least permanently limit how fully we can recover overall, it might be well worth it to spread out your meditation schedule to something that your brain can handle without the uncomfortable side sensations.

    You may find that if you give your brain some time off to replenish it's stores, you may be able to meditate more naturally later on so long as you don't overdo it and give yourself more days off in between. I've found that with a lot of my mental activities. I think of it like a rechargeable battery. And just like a rechargeable battery, the illusion of having some charge again is not actually the same as being fully charged. When I try to jump back in too soon, my mental stamina drains away in a flash and I'm left with a dud again. ;) That feeling you're describing is what happens to my brain when the battery is dead.

    :( Sorry that this illness is interfering with something so important to you.
  7. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Some people with ME get great benefit from meditation. I am not one of them. I have used meditation strategies from breath meditation (Japanese) to gentle guided relaxation (western), even self hypnosis. They all exhaust me. I think it depends on exactly what is going on in the brain, we are all different. Bye, Alex
    Wayne likes this.
  8. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    Dang, had something all written out, and it poofed with this silly laptop keyboard, waaaaay too sensitive mouse pad.

    Here goes again. Sigh.

    I tried for years to learn transcendental meditation, and just could never get there. About three years ago, I tried again, looking for answers as to why. I came up with similar reasons as are posted here. It was a well, duh! experience to realize that SITTING UP HURTS, whether it is at the piano, organ, computer, or trying to meditate. When I modified my approach, VOILA! finally had the results I wanted... but lying down, eyes closed, and not worrying AT ALL about falling completely asleep. I know mantras are good, chakra flow is good in the sitting position, open hands, all that -- but it can all go out the door or be changed up if needed. When I teach meditation now, I teach the traditional forms first, then go on to variations, and why it can be varied. We just get stuck in hard-and-fast rules about how it "should" be done to be "properly" done. A purist would scream at this, I am sure... but I am MEDITATING all the time now with the desired outcome.

    Also, I love other forms of meditation, especially with self-hypnosis recordings, or things like Dr. Wayne Dyer's Change Your Thoughts Meditations, the I Ching quotes modified into modern English with sounds. I listen to that one daily.

    Yoga... I tried to get that one rolling for years as well, but just never could, due to nerve damage. Just cannot get into position without something going to sleep on me. (Possible OI relationship? Never could sit cross-legged, even as a child.) Then one summer I was in a CEU class and the instructors had us start out with some yoga, simple, gentle poses and moves. I could do it! I went up at the break and asked them where I could find that particular flow. It was from a book called "Injury Yoga." I just laughed. I have found my yoga speed, folks!!

    Okay, hitting the post button fast as I can... holding my breath... lol
  9. CJB

    CJB Senior Member

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    GracieJ likes this.
  10. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    If you've been doing concentration meditation - samatha - and having fatigue problems, you might consider switching to mindfulness-based meditation - vipassana. The concentrative disciplines can overfocus your mind too much with CFS (and some mantras can have negative effects, including panic attacks). With vipassana - about 2/3 of the attention focused lightly on the breath in a relaxed state of open mindfulness - those potential pitfalls are minimized.
  11. CJB

    CJB Senior Member

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    Thanks for the assist, jeffrez. That's exactly what I was trying to say.:balanced:
    jeffrez likes this.
  12. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hello raimonio--

    Like others here, I have had the same kind of awful draining, tiring experiences attempting to do the "traditional styles" of sitting meditation that I learned back in high school (which was TM) and in my 20s (which included varied forms).

    What has worked best for me is a lying down version of gentle deep breathing combined with allowing my mind to wander where it wants to go, without resistance. It's that damned old resistance and trying to "make the mind" be peaceful that is the kiss of death for me in meditation. I know that trap well, but often fall into it anyway.

    ALSO... I tend make my meditations short, as in about 5 minutes. If I can do that a few times a day, it's a lot easier for me than trying to force myself to do 20 minutes or more at a time. IT's amazing how powerful just breathing quietly for 5 minutes can be.

    If I feel really wound up and need external aid, I use the breathing exercises on this DVD. Rodney Yee is my favorite yoga teacher. This video has a very quieting effect on me. http://rodneyyeeyogastore.com/120-1316.html

    Here's a sample from the video. I don't often use this particular exercise, and usually stick to the breathing exercises, but at least it will give you a feel for what his work is like.

    jeffrez and CJB like this.
  13. raimonio

    raimonio

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    Thanks for the answers, there have been many good points, this lying down business might just be the thing! :)

    I feel relieved because I thought I was the only who could not meditate and had CFS. I thought there was something wrong with me even beyond CFS (dont get me wrong I've had candida, severe mental issues, history of drug abuse etc but they're all cleared now). You know I did actually try meditating while lying down last week and it certainly did not exhaust me that much, I do believe that atleast a big part of the exhaustion comes from having to sit upright and keeping your back straight. I will experiment with it in the future. Its just that the results while lying down are really not comparable to while sitting, but if thats a way to do it I'll take it.

    I'm kind of bound to do a certain practice because I'm going to this workshop where they teach the technique that I've been doing, so I would really like to stick with it. It is also the technique that feels the most natural to me. There were some weird coincidences with the technique. Like one time in my life when I was very desperate and was about to kill myself my intuition guided me to do this technique although nobody had taught it to me. So its like theres a greater power involved when it comes to me and this particular practice(that I now found out is taught by a healing master!). With the technique you concentrate on your DanTien(Its a taoist practice, dantien is kind of like a chakra in your belly) and when the energy starts moving your body you let everything that happens happen. In this practice you also end up doing the breathing exercise, its just that your focus is on DanTien. BUT I've also experimented with awareness practice before and it was the same exhaustion all over again. Now I'm going to the workshop and hope things will change there. The teacher is a great healer so he might be able to do something. I know its a long shot. If things dont change I'm just gonna start experimenting with the lying down method more. Let us hope that when you take away the vigorous posture keeping, that mind concentrating alone would not ruin my day.

    I've actually talked about this before on a taoist forum with the practitioners and the more advanced guys are able to have just as powerful experiences while lying down, but they advice to do it sitting first. Also saying that sitting should be the main way to do it. But like you said, my case is special and if its impossible for me to do it "correctly" then what can you do? Your gonna be a humble man and lie down.

    Someone asked about my concentration. My concentration overall is great I. I can easily watch movies, read books, follow a lecture as long as I'm interested in the subject. On the other hand my mind is really hazardous. Its easier for me to take the information but getting it out or using it is really hard. So while I understand everything (even complex theories) if I had to put it on paper it would be something in to the right direction but the little details would be flawed. In these cases I have to compliment it with my intelligence. I'm not a genious but I can pretty much calculate the right answers by critically observing my flawed train of thought. Also my working memory is nearly nonexistant. If you said something 1minute ago I would have to ask what you said if I wanted to know. The only thing that works in my mind is when I take theory in. My cognitive capabilities just dont work, most of the time I feel like a person who has dementia. The funny thing is that because I understand theory I can actually study at university level, but if you would see me operating in an every day situation your first thought will be "This guy has brain damage". That is why I try to keep low profile not revealing how confused I am :p

    It is interesting how this disease effects everyone so differently, yet its the same thing. I wish you could pick the things that worked and didnt work for you, you know.

    Anyways I've got a long history of problems and CFS is the only one that lingers. I've only been aware of it for a year, although it has been there for atleast 8 years, under all the other problems. The good thing here is that I've not really tried to cure this thing with anything else but CBT(didnt work!). I've been mainly dealing with candida etc on the physical side. So on this forum I see many people talking about all these different suppelements, LDN and whatnot. Gotta start taking notes and when I get the money buy some supplements. I also see many people being healed 70% or 80% or something which is inspiring, although I understand its a long path. It must also start from realizing that you cannot overdo anything and that is what I'm gonna do next. Thnx for all the support I'll be lingering here for sometime :p

    I also have an interesting story about how my pains were cured but I think I'll do another thread for that.

    Sorry if my english isnt good, I'm from Finland.
  14. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    I have a similar problem, correlating will illness severity, and I have arrived at several possible factors. The intense concentration and neural inhibition required for meditation may be too much of a burden like any other neural activity. Humans have not evolved to spend long periods of time trying to stay fully awake while the eyes are shut and the body is drifting towards a sleep-like state. For most healthy people that may be OK (although some still complain), but for ME/CFS patients with multi-systemic disruption, this process may further interfere with homeostasis, negatively affect the physiological arousal required to help counter symptoms, and disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. May depend on the individual and the type of meditation involved, but the more physical types such as breathing and hatha yoga techniques, may have side effects for similar reasons (interfering with disrupted physiology and delicate homeostasis).
  15. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    That's a very good point, because as soon as you close your eyes, the brain alpha waves start ramping up significantly. You can see it happen almost instantaneously on EEG (well, if you cheat and open your eyes a little again, lol, and then watch them fall).

    It might be interesting to note that in Zen meditation - zazen - the eyes are not fully closed but left open very slightly, presumably to ensure that the brain stays in the "eyes open" state while doing the practice.

    Speaking of Zen, on reading this thread I also happened to remember the story in Three Pillars of Zen of the girl who had some illness - was it a cancer, perhaps? Don't remember - but who supposedly attained to a very high level (by zen standards) almost totally from meditating while lying in bed. So it's not crucial to be sitting by any means, in my opinion. Eyes open/closed might even be more important than sitting/lying.
  16. Marylib

    Marylib Senior Member

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    Yes, I hope you can relax around your meditation a bit. In my experience, "trying" to meditate, even when I was healthy, never game the results that I got from just accepting the present condition, and going from there. So if that means lying down, fine. If it means 5 minutes rather than 30, that is fine, too.
    jeffrez likes this.
  17. arx

    arx Senior Member

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    It happened to me too. I am suffering from B12 deficiency related neurological troubles. Initially when I was being misdiagnosed, I also tried out meditation. My mental state was so bad I had to leave my university.It still is. There were all sorts of mental things happening. I just could not 'focus' on anything. Now when I see it with a clearer vision, I can say that my nerves were not able to handle that kind of activity. A strengthened nervous system is needed for meditation,in my opinion. I tried all sorts of things, watching the breath, focusing on some chakras and many more,it just wouldn't happen. Instead, it would leave me in much pain and misery. I still can't do those things, they are too much for my nervous system. I find relaxing things much better. Things like listening to ambient and serene music, or simply lying down without CONCENTRATING. Concentration on anything was and is too much for me. It becomes a torture to my mind and body. Sitting straight in a yoga posture is a physical hell.

    I also viewed my body as chakra and energies for a while. But when I stumbled upon B12 deficiency and whatever it has induced in my body, I think viewing the body as mentioned before and successfully attempting things like meditation can only be done once the body itself is strengthened. Only then chakras will fall into place and energies will flow smoothly. I might be totally wrong, but with my wrecked nervous system, I simply couldn't and can't allow concentrating at anything. My mind would become overstimulated and thoughts would become intense and race so fast that I thought I would go psychotic,which is obviously NOT the point of such things. There was a time in life when I was not sick, such things gave peace and contentment. Now they are too much for my system to handle. I'm trying simple and gentle things now. I can't torture my body and mind with things that once worked.

    Also, this is worth a read:
    http://www.osho.com/en/highlights-of-oshos-world/relaxation/

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