Meditation and mindfulness were incredibly helpful in my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are often downplayed in recovery stories–and supplements, diet and exercise are focused on instead. Supplements, diet and exercise certainly helped me, and many others, to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity. But meditation helped me too, and I think that the roles of spiritual and emotional health in physical health and healing are under-recognized in our society; and that is reflected in many of the recovery stories. Or… maybe I’m projecting and meditation and spirituality were important to me but they aren’t to everyone… that’s totally possible. Still, I want to focus this post on the role that meditation and mindfulness played in getting me through fluoroquinolone toxicity because they were important parts of my journey.
Early in my floxing I took a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through my health insurer, Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente wouldn’t offer a class like this unless it had health benefits, and meditation and mindfulness have been found to have amazing, unexpected, physical health benefits (including increased immunity – isn’t that crazy/interesting?).
The things that mindfulness and meditation helped me with were:
- It helped to get my anxiety under control. I can’t begin to tell you how important this was. Anxiety can make everything worse and it’s easy to get into a destructive anxiety/stress/tension spiral when a bomb has just gone off in your body.
- Meditation helped me to be more kind and patient toward myself.
- Meditation helped me to forgive myself for what I was going through. I felt guilt and shame over being sick. Neither guilt nor shame are useful in the least, and meditation/mindfulness helped me to get rid of both.
- Meditating brought home the point that everything passes. Even thoughts and emotions pass. Pain passes. Nothing is permanent.
- It helped with dysautonomia. My sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems were out of balance after I got floxed. Meditating helped to get my cortisol levels down and my sympathetic nervous system back in line.
- I found courage, bravery and strength, which I badly needed, through meditation.
- I could see beauty and good in the world when I meditated. I felt like beauty and good in the world were stolen from me when I got floxed – meditation/mindfulness helped me to get them back.
I recently listened to a wonderful talk by Pema Chodron in which she was going over ways to overcome fear. She noted that being mindful about fear was a way to get past it. She advised that we examine and look at the things that make us uncomfortable–like fear, pain, and other “negative” feelings. Even though all of us want to get away from pain, fear, discomfort, distress, etc., running from those things doesn’t seem to be near as effective as facing them, for getting over, through and past them. In a mindfulness or meditation practice, you can sit with your fears and pain and face them. Pema Chodron advises that you be kind and patient toward your fear and pain, and that its power will dissipate with the more loving kindness you give it.
It’s a bit hippy-dippy, and even counter-intuitive, I know. But I love this stuff and it truly helped me immensely.
In her talk, Pema Chodron told a story of when she was going through a tough time and she approached her teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, for advice. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that her life/problems were like she was standing in the ocean, and a big wave came by and knocked her in the sand. After some struggling, the wave went back out and she was able to stand again. Then, another wave came and knocked her down again. But, the second time, she know that the wave will go back out and that she would be able to stand again. It keeps happening like that. Life is a series of waves that will knock your face into the sand. BUT, after a while, the waves appear to be getting much smaller.
The waves of life–fear, uncertainty, pain, suffering, illness and everything else–will be much easier to overcome if you look at them. If you face the waves you can decide if you’re going to jump over them, dive under them, plan for a place to land when they push you down, or some other plan of action. Or, you can just know that waves will hit you and knock you around at times, but they will recede and you’ll be able to stand again. Just having that realization/mindset is helpful.
I was playing around in a pretty wave-less bay when I got knocked down by Cipro. I had no idea what hit me. My face was in the sand and I was convinced that I was choking to death on the sea-water. Meditating and mindfulness helped me to face the waves, and when I faced them, I could see ways to overcome them. And, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said they would, the waves got smaller.
I truly think that the shifts in perception that I went through, largely as a result of mindfulness and meditation practices (with some other spiritual and religious things too), helped me to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity as much as anything.
It’s interesting that sitting still, observing your breath and attempting to overcome your ego, can be a tool for wellness. It’s been a tool for health and wellness for centuries, but it doesn’t fit well within the Western Medicine paradigm for health or healing. It is helpful though. It’s a great and powerful tool that helped me immensely. I hope that it works well for you too!
I took meditation and mindfulness classes which cost a little money, but were worth every penny. You don’t have to take meditation or mindfulness classes though. Meditating is FREE.
If you want some guidance, here are some links to guided meditations:
And here is Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness: