Headache – the very mention of the word has the power to bring back memories of the last time we had one! The pain that starts mild and slowly becomes moderate, going up to intolerable sometimes? And the feeling of holding your head between your palms, clinching your fists and wanting to bang your head against a wall!
What if we say that you could get relief from headache by simply opening up your clinched fists? Yes, the next time you get a headache – close your eyes, open your palms to the ceiling and take a few deep breaths in. Try and relax as much as possible in that state – the state we call meditation.
Here are a few common reasons why we all get headache and how meditation can help provide relief:
Cause #1 – Stress
Meditation to the rescue – When stress in the body and mind gets too much to handle, it may take the form of a headache. Meditation is inversely proportional to stress. The more you meditate and the more often, the more stress gets released from the system. Moral of the story: meditate everyday for at least 10-20 minutes.
Cause #2 – Physical and mental exertion
Meditation to the rescue – Too much of running around during the day – both at home and work – lots of chores to finish. A few minutes of meditation at this time can refresh and recharge you. Bring back your smile and morning freshness even in the evening with just 20 minutes of meditation. It completely relaxes you so that you can enjoy your family time in the evening better.
Cause #3 – Imbalance in the system
Meditation to the rescue – You may have noticed that at times when you have an upset tummy, you start getting a headache. Our body is closely connected and so any kind of imbalance in one part of the system can directly affect another.
Meditation can help restore balance by flushing out accumulated stress and toxins in different parts of the system. It also helps keep a check on the body’s digestive system. When you meditate everyday, you start becoming more aware of what you eat and how much. And when you start taking care of your diet, digestion improves and there is harmony in the body. This means lesser chances of headache.
Cause #4 – Less blood supply to the head region
Meditation to the rescue – Daily meditation, twice a day, for 10-20 minutes each not only gives deep relaxation to the mind and body but also sends blood pumping to the head area, thereby improving blood circulation in the region and reducing the chances of a headache.
Besides meditation, you may also try some yoga asanas (body postures) which help improve blood circulation. Some examples include Forward Bend (Hastapadasana), Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) and Plow Pose (Halasana).
Cause #5 – Insufficient sleep at night
Meditation to the rescue – Long working hours, hectic work cultures or simply addiction to the TV and Internet all become excuses to hit the bed late. Although it’s not a very good idea to make these a habit and sleep at late hours, sometimes it can be just unavoidable. The days when you have to finish a tight project deadline or take a late client call – there’s nothing much we can do. At times like these, sitting and meditating for just 20 minutes can really help cope with the work pressure.
It will relax your mind, keep you charged up and also increase your work efficiency. In fact, with regular meditation practice, your productivity increases and you may be able to finish your work much earlier without the need to stay up late.
Meditation also helps improve the quality of your sleep. Did you know that 20 minutes of meditation can give you much deeper rest than 8 hours of sleep? This is not to suggest that meditation can be a substitute to sleep. But when you meditate, you will be able to sleep better.
Cause #6 – Jarring noise
Meditation to the rescue – We all would have experienced this at some time or the other. And some of us just can’t take it and end up complaining of a headache soon after.
One effect of meditation is that it gives us the ability to accept situations as they are so that we are able to stay calm and relaxed in every kind of situation, anywhere. So even if there is loud noise around you, because you meditate and because you are relaxed from within, it would not affect you much.
Note: The feeling of being settled within will come over time as you keep meditating regularly. There may still be situations when you have noise around you and you tend to get a headache but with regular meditation practice, you will get the ability to deal with it, accept it.
Cause #7 – Excessive talking on the phone
Meditation to the rescue – A situation that is difficult to avoid at times. Client calls all through the day or simply catching up with friends sitting in any part of the world is something we all do every day of our life! Sometimes doing it in excess can result in a headache.
Don’t worry. Just meditate for a few minutes when you feel your head spinning. It will help relieve the stress and provide deep rest to the nervous system which is impacted by the use of electronic devices.
I had migraine for almost 10 years and it was pretty severe to the extent that I could not move at times – the pain was excruciating. As I started to meditate, I noticed a difference almost within a few days. It started with the intensity of the pain coming down and now the frequency of headache has also reduced with daily practice – Sara Joseph, Poland.
Cause #8 - Too much thinking
Meditation to the rescue – One solution is: don’t think too much! But sometimes it can be inevitable. Stress in everyday life, work pressure, family problems, relationship issues – how can we not think amidst all this? Well, but what you can do for sure is to take time out during the day to close your eyes, relax, keep the outside world aside for that little time, consider it as ‘your own time’ and spend time with yourself. Try this out and feel the difference.
What else can help relieve headache?
- Regular practice of yoga which includes yoga asanas (such as the ones mentioned earlier), pranayamas – Nadi Shodhan (Alternate Nostril Breathing) and Bhramri (Bee Breath) are effective – followed by 20 minutes of meditation.
- Drink lots of water – Sometimes you may get a headache even after meditation or practicing yoga! This is because during meditation, toxins are flushed out from the body and it is very important to hydrate yourself well to cleanse the system thoroughly so that you don’t get a headache.
- Ayurveda helps – There are some herbs in Ayurveda which can be effective in relieving headache. These include betel leaves, cloves, garlic, ginger and henna.
Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks
Written by Pritika Nair
Based on inputs by Bharathy Harish, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher and Nisha Manikanthan, Ayurvedic Expert