Meditation for epilepsy – what you need to know
Thinking of trying meditation for epilepsy? Learn more about meditation, how it might help people with seizures – and any risks to be aware of.
Have you ever tried meditating? This ancient practice is increasingly popular today. Celebrities often talk about mindfulness, there are plenty of meditation apps, and magazines on the topic widely available.
If you have a seizure disorder, you might be thinking about doing meditation for epilepsy. Let's learn more about meditation and epilepsy, how it could help you, as well as possible issues to be aware of.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a type of mind-body practice that was originally developed in eastern cultures as a way of increasing spiritual understanding. It is now also widely used in the West as a type of complementary medicine. It can help people feel relaxed, focused and peaceful.
There are several kinds of meditation, from the popular ‘mindfulness’ approach, through to guided and mantra meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, and Qi gong. These practices are all about improving focus in the moment and clearing our minds of distractions.
Practicing meditation is believed to have several benefits:
- Becoming more focused and present in the moment
- Helping you gain a different perspective
- Helping you feel more relaxed
- Managing stress and anxiety
- Improving quality of sleep
Is meditation good for epilepsy?
Although meditation has been around for a long time, there hasn’t been that much research into its benefits for people with seizures. Researchers are still debating whether the practice can improve seizure control, or if it could actually make seizures worse. While there have been studies into epilepsy and meditation, few of them are really conclusive.
Possible benefits of meditation for epilepsy
Some research into meditation and epilepsy suggests that this practice can help people who have seizures. In a 2015 study of 60 people with epilepsy, 30 of them were asked to meditate regularly over a few weeks. The results showed that this group had a much greater reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as lower seizure frequency then the other group.
Whether or not meditation helps reduce seizures, it does seem to help manage things like depression. What is more, by helping people manage stress and sleep better, meditation could be useful for avoiding common seizure triggers.
Read next: Introduction to yoga and epilepsy
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Possible drawbacks of meditation and epilepsy
The argument against using meditation for epilepsy is that it could increase the risk of seizures. Meditating makes people’s brain cells behave in a highly synchronized manner. The worry is that if people with epilepsy practice meditation, these alterations in brain activity could make them more likely to have seizures.
If you are thinking of doing meditation for epilepsy, it's a good idea to speak to your medical treatment team to see if they think it's appropriate for you. Remember that it is a complementary practice - it should not replace your anti-seizure medication.
Take a precautionary approach to meditation for epilepsy
While there is not enough evidence to say whether or not meditation is 100% safe for people with epilepsy, it is still a relatively low risk activity. Most people meditate while sitting in bed or on the floor, so the risk of injuries from seizures is low. If you do decide to do it, make sure there are no sharp edges nearby, and that there are soft surfaces to cushion you if you fall.
It’s sensible to take a precautionary approach to meditation for epilepsy. Talk to your doctor about your plans, and see if they have any recommendations to make it as safe as possible for you.