Chronic illnesses like pulmonary fibrosis always seem to bring stress and worry. We face uncertainty about the future, the danger of drug side effects, the emotions we experience, the impact on our family, the cost of treatment, and the hassle of medical appointments and tough decisions. The medical community has long recognized the benefits of meditation for better emotional health. They also recommend relaxation techniques to reduce stress, improve sleep, alleviate anxiety and support a sense of control. But with everything else you have we have to do; it makes sense to look for the easiest way.
Lazy people rejoice! Maybe you’ve wanted to try meditation to help manage the stress of pulmonary fibrosis but just couldn’t commit to it. Maybe you’re a caregiver who has too much to do and can’t find the time. You’ve asked yourself: How do I begin? What exactly should I do? Do I need to buy a book, or take a class? If you are like me, you are more stressed than when you began by the time you ask the questions. Me, I admit I’m a little bit lazy, I’m always looking for an easy way to do things. And wow, I’ve found the easiest way to tackle my stress– guided imagery.
Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that is sometimes called the lazy person’s meditation. Guided imagery is a technique that uses your mind’s ability to daydream to help you relax. The technique uses an audio or video recording, usually with calming music. A narrator will guide you. The narration usually suggests that you pay attention to breathing, which is always a good thing for those with chronic lung disease. They suggest you focus on relaxing your muscles, close your eyes, and think of something pleasant. Typically, the narrator will ask you to imagine a visual scene such as a forest, a beach, or some natural setting that we associate with relaxation.
Because the narrator tells you what to do, guided imagery is easier than most other forms of meditation. Simply, select your meditation, take a comfortable position in a quiet place and just listen. Don’t worry if you are doing it right or not, just listen. What could be easier? No special equipment. No books. No classes. No pillows or candles, or mantras. I usually listen to a guided imagery recording every night in bed after turning out the lights. That way, If I fall asleep, which I often do, I am right where I need to be. Nothing is coming up in a few minutes that will draw my attention away.
I’ve long been a fan of BelleRuth Naparstek, who began her career as a social worker in hospitals and clinics. She now trains physicians in using guided imagery for their patients. She is recognized as a leader in making guided imagery available in major, conventional health care institutions. She provides free guided imagery recordings at the Audio Mindfulness Library through a partnership with the Stanford Health Clinic of Stanford University.
I have listened to her meditation for better sleep off and on for years as my insomnia comes and goes. Let me tell you, it works better than any pill I have ever taken. I recommend the Guided Meditation to Relieve Stress from the Audio Mindfulness Library for PF Warriors who are patients. For caregivers, there is a meditation just for us: the Guided Meditation to Help Caregiver Stress. While you may feel better after a single session, I have found the best benefit in listening to the meditation for several days each week, as often as I can. It’s so easy – you can start today.
Guided meditations available in English and Spanish.