meditate on this

A key component to my healing protocol is meditation.  But I will be the first person to admit that I am not very good at it. When I do meditate though, i ALWAYS feel amazing after. So this time, armed with a new iphone , I decided to try a few apps to see if they would help me develop a daily practice. 

One of the first ones I tried was Headspace. There is a 10 day free trial (admittedly i thought the app was free even after 10 days otherwise I likely wouldn't have bothered but I'll get back to that) and so I was on my way. 


When you start with Headspace, you can opt for 3, 5 or 10 minute sessions. I think it defaults to 3 minutes but personally, that's way too short for me so I swapped over to 10 minutes. The app is narrated by one of the founders Andy Puddicombe, a UK-born former Buddhist monk who clearly knows what he's talking about. I found his voice and tone soothing without being too "woo-woo" and after only 3 sessions I sat on my couch thinking "Is it time to meditate yet??" (admittedly as I was watching Game of Thrones). No joke. But everyone needs some deep breaths after GOT right? 

Ten days passed and lo and behold,  I had meditated almost every day! This is a new record in consistency for me. Not duration, but consistency. And in meditation, consistency is key. 

So what does meditation have to do with healing from an Irritable Bowel Disease?

Well, you've probably heard about the benefits of meditation for stress management, mental health, sleep, blood pressure and more. But evidence on the benefits of meditation for chronic pain and disease is also rigorous. Research specifically on IBD found meditation provided significant long-lasting benefits from the psychological (e.g., anxiety, depression) and physiological (e.g., inflammation) symptoms, the latter of which were measured through numerous biomarkers.

But do we even really need empirical evidence to confirm how beneficial it can be to  take a break from all our "busyness", breathe and take a little quiet time for ourselves? Not really. But it definitely helps for some of us.

For me the most important part was finding a tool and method that worked. We've all resorted to "oh i just can't meditate" or "i just don't have time" but that is kind of like saying "i just can't exercise" or "i just can't eat well". Sure you can! You just need to figure out a way that works for you. And start slow. We don't expect  new runner to attempt a marathon. Same rules apply for meditation or any new habit.
After my free 10 days I searched around for a truly free app but honestly, just didn't like any of them. Then I spent a good 3 days humming and hawing about spending money on  what is basically a 'non-activity' (because i'm cheap and inherently feel like I shouldn't have to pay to meditate). But this app was  getting me excited about meditation! So I sucked it up, paid for one month and discovered so many more tools and guided sessions from stress and relaxation to performance and focus to injury recovery. Both singles and '10-day packs'  that build on each other over time. Totally absolutely worth it. It also led me to question why I have no problem going out for dinner or spending $20 on a bottle of wine, but had to convince myself that it was worthwhile to spend the cash on a tool that would truly be foundational in helping me heal. Hmmm. I'll meditate on that and get back to you.  


© Melissa Evanson 2017.  For permission to reproduce or repost this post, email

Chen, K. W., Berger, C. C., Manheimer, E., Forde, D., Magidson, J., Dachman, L., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 29(7), 545-562.

Gerbarg PL, Jacob VE, Stevens L, Bosworth BP, Chabouni F, de Filippis EM, Warren R, Trivellas M, Patel PV, Webb CD, Harbus MD, Christos PJ, Brown RP, Scherl EJ. 2015. The Effect of Breathing, Movement, and Meditation on Psychological and Physical Symptoms and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 21(12):2886-96.  

Kuo B, Bhasin M, Jacquart J, Scult MA, Slipp L, Riklin EIK, et al. (2015) Genomic and Clinical Effects Associated with a Relaxation Response Mind-Body Intervention in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123861. 

Sharma, M., & Rush, S. E. (2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a stress management intervention for healthy individuals a systematic review. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 19(4), 271-286.

Veehof, M. M., Trompetter, H. R., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Schreurs, K. M. G. (2016). Acceptance-and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of chronic pain: a meta-analytic review. COGNITIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY, 45(1), 5-31.