Meditation is an essential practice for managing and healing ulcerative colitis.
Meditation calms the mind, lowers inflammation, improves sleep and teaches inner body awareness. All these effects of meditation offer huge healing benefits for ulcerative colitis.
Combined with a yoga practice, meditation is one of the highest-payoff practices you can incorporate into your daily UC healing routine.
Whether you’re new to meditation or have been meditating for years, you’ll find plenty to grow your practice in this in-depth post. Further, I’ll discuss meditation for ulcerative colitis specifically.
Keep reading to learn everything you need know to about using meditation for managing and healing ulcerative colitis.
The Role of Meditation as a Healing Practice for Ulcerative Colitis
After diet is handled with a strict Paleo-AIP diet, lifestyle practices like consistent meditation play a major role in healing ulcerative colitis over the long term.
Practices like yoga and meditation are slow, long-term medicine for ulcerative colitis.
From day to day there won’t seem to be any appreciable effect. But over the course of months and years, a serious meditation practice can totally transform your life, health and, possibly, the trajectory of your ulcerative colitis.
I’ve simply accepted that meditation and restorative yoga are practices that I need to do regularly for the rest of my life.
The benefits on every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – are just too great to pass up.
In terms of ulcerative colitis specifically, meditation offers a number of important benefits.
- Meditation improves digestion
- Meditation lowers inflammation
- Meditation encourages physical healing
- Meditation lowers stress hormones in the body
- Meditation improves sleep
- Meditation reduces gastrointestinal discomfort associated with UC
- Meditation helps calm the anxiety and uncertainty associated with having UC
- Meditation helps heal the brain and body from emotional trauma
That’s a lot of impact from a practice that can be done in under 30 minutes a day.
The last point in the list, the emotional trauma, we discuss next…
The Role of Emotional Trauma in Ulcerative Colitis
Past emotional trauma plays a role in the development of ulcerative colitis.
This is an observation I’ve made and had reinforced for well over a decade as a coach and healer dealing with UC.
(If you want to learn everything you need to understand the role of emotional trauma and childhood trauma in UC, read my epic post Exploring the Spiritual Meaning of Ulcerative Colitis.)
So trauma healing becomes something that indirectly benefits our ulcerative colitis.
And meditation is one of the most direct ways to heal emotional trauma.
Much of healing ulcerative colitis naturally depends on creating a healing ecosystem for yourself in your life. Healing UC will require you to heal other aspects of your life that are out of balance.
You have to examine and heal your life on every level to manage and heal ulcerative colitis.
Meditation’s Role in Healing Trauma
Meditation excels at healing the emotional body and healing emotional trauma.
Some types and styles of meditation are better for healing trauma than others and I discuss this in detail below.
But the basic idea in trauma healing is making the unconscious conscious.
Sitting in meditation and focusing on the inner body and the breath means thoughts and sensations will arise the entire time.
Like chipping away at an iceberg, little by little memories and emotions are made conscious and processed. Over time, PTSD symptoms lesson and dissipate.
Like healing ulcerative colitis, healing past trauma with meditation and other natural practices is a long-term endeavor.
Meditation and Inner Body Awareness for Healing UC
Practices like mindfulness meditation build and teach inner body awareness.
Most of us with ulcerative colitis have spent a lot of time trying to ignore and push away our inner sensations. Sitting with them and letting them be while we experience them without judgment may be something very new and foreign.
It doesn’t help that, in modern medicine, most “treatments” end up being either numbing agents or symptom suppressors.
Allowing and being present with uncomfortable physical sensations and the accompanying emotions isn’t something we’re used to doing.
It’s also very challenging. Though it gets better and easier with time.
How Often to Meditate for Healing Ulcerative Colitis
The best results with meditation come from a daily practice. Meditation most days, especially in the beginning, can really improve and accelerate your results.
Practicing meditation daily also strengthens the daily practice of the habit.
After about a month of daily meditation practice, the habit will be pretty well ingrained. It will be harder not to meditate than to meditate at that point.
For healing ulcerative colitis, daily meditation practice for 10-30 minutes a day is a good starting point.
What Meditation Benefits Will I See and When Will I See Them?
As I said above, meditation is long term, slow medicine for UC.
I think a month or two of daily meditation practice as described above is about the right timeframe to expect results in healing ulcerative colitis.
What will you notice after a few months of daily meditation?
- Bathroom frequency should diminish
- Sleep should improve
- Gastrointestinal discomfort should reduce
- You’ll likely feel more positive and hopeful mentally
- You may have fewer food cravings
- You may manage the food cravings you do have better
These are the types of benefits to expect from a few months of consistent daily meditation.
I also strongly recommend combining meditation with a restorative yoga practice daily.
Doing yoga before meditation is a reliable way to quite the mind and pave the way for a deeper meditation.
I owe a lot of my success in meditation to doing yoga before it. Meditation goes a lot better when you’ve already used movement to quiet the mind.
Meditation is easier and it goes deeper when done after yoga.
The Best Types of Meditation for Ulcerative Colitis
I’ve listed and discussed a few specific types of meditation to consider for ulcerative colitis below.
Essentially, you want to do a meditation practice that takes you into the body.
You want to be feeling your body internally and observing any thoughts that come and pass in a detached way.
Any meditation that focuses you internally will work pretty well for ulcerative colitis.
Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness meditation will be one of the most readily available forms of meditation you’re likely to find.
Originally credited to Buddhism, mindfulness meditation was made popular by Jon Kabat-Zin at Harvard and Herbert Benson, M.D. at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Professor Zin taught the mindfulness meditation technique in clinical settings without the Buddhist religious undertones. He called it Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) and it’s now offered in workshops all over the world.
Think of MBSR as a Westernized, secular and medically recognized form of meditation.
Most major hospitals will offer MSBR classes or similar, or at least know where to find them.
Zin and Benson did a great job of bringing an esoteric Eastern meditation form to a Western, medical audience.
Here are a few MSBR resources:
Mindfulness Meditation Shown to be Effective for Ulcerative Colitis and IBS
A pilot study found that meditation had a significant impact on the clinical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It also had an effect on the expression of genes related to inflammation and the body’s response to stress.
Here’s the article: Meditation May Relieve IBS and IBD
Vipassana meditation is another meditation style from Buddhism. It seems pretty similar to mindfulness. It may be the same technique.
Vipassana meditation is another good option for healing ulcerative colitis.
To learn more read: What Exactly Is Vipassana Meditation?
Guided meditations are a great option for ulcerative colitis for several reasons.
- Guided meditations allow you to relax and focus on internal sensations
- Guided meditations are great for novice meditators
- Experienced meditators can deepen their practice with guided meditations
- Guided meditations virtually guarantee a successful meditation session
- Guided meditations can be specifically made for meditators with ulcerative colitis
Julien Blanc’s Transformation Mastery Academy
I personally completed Julien Blanc’s entire Transformation Mastery Academy. It’s an intensive 12-month course that takes you through every aspect of your subconscious mind including core beliefs, relationships, past trauma, passion and purpose, social anxiety.
Transformation Mastery Academy includes about 20 guided meditations. I still do them most days. These are my absolute favorite guided meditations. Even among Julien’s other work.
Julien discussing mindfulness meditation and releasing negative emotions.
Teal Swan’s Meditation Vault
Teal Swan is one of my favorite New Age teachers. If past and childhood trauma is a theme in your life, you need to check out her YouTube Channel.
Teal Swan’s Meditation Vault is like a Swiss Army Knife of meditation. She continually adds topics and meditations to it.
Teal Swan’s current meditation vault has guided meditations on a number of important topics for people with ulcerative colitis:
- Stress Relief
- Classic Body Scan
- The Inner Child
- Feel Good
- Attracting Your Soul Mate
She has over 30 guided meditations in the vault right now. It goes on sale regularly for her subscribers so join her email list if you want the best price.
Here’s Teal Swan teaching and discussing mindfulness meditation.
Body Scans and Yoga Nidra
A classic body scan is included in Teal Swan’s meditation vault. The traditional name for a body scan is Yoga Nidra. A search for each term will yield a lot of results.
Basically, a guided body scan or Yoga Nidra moves awareness though the body releasing tension as it goes.
These types of guided meditations will induce deep, restorative relaxation.
Scientific Evidence Supporting Meditation for Ulcerative Colitis
A consistent meditation practice makes a big difference in the lives of people with ulcerative colitis.
As I’ve discussed in my ever-popular Exploring the Spiritual Meanings of Ulcerative Colitis, presence work like yoga and meditation are central lifestyle practices for healing ulcerative colitis.
The scientific literature is full of valid research showing the effectiveness of meditation for ulcerative colitis.
Exploring Patient Perspectives on a 12-Week Online Stress Reduction Intervention in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The stress associated with inflammatory bowel disease is significant.
This particular study noted:
“…IBD was described as causing uncertainty, significant disruptions to daily activities, and stress, which in turn worsened symptoms…”
The online stress reduction program used in the study was associated with:
“…[A] perceived reduction in IBD symptom burden, an increased ability to manage daily and disease-associated stressors, and a more positive mindset…”
You can read the study here: Exploring Patient Perspectives on a 12-Week Online Stress Reduction Intervention in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Mindfulness Therapy and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The above video makes a number of good points on the advantages of a mindfulness-based meditation practice when living with ulcerative colitis.
As is common with more mainstream content like the above video, there’s a lot of discussion about living with UC.
Sure, mindfulness meditation can help you accept and endure the pain and discomfort of ulcerative colitis. Meditation can also help manage stress of the regular flare-ups and the fear of the next one that comes with UC.
But that’s within a “diet has nothing to do with it paradigm.”
I much prefer and recommend a whole-life approach to healing ulcerative colitis that includes meditation as a lifestyle habit.
A lot of the pain and flare-ups associated with ulcerative colitis are avoidable with the right diet and lifestyle.
The Effect of Breathing, Movement, and Meditation on Psychological and Physical Symptoms and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial
In this study, patients participated in a program of breathing, movement and mediation.
In patients with IBD, the program was associated with:
“…[S]ignificant improvements in psychological and physical symptoms, quality of life, and C-reactive protein…”
You can read the study here: The Effect of Breathing, Movement, and Meditation on Psychological and Physical Symptoms and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Yoga in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Narrative Review
This review confirmed mental health and quality of life benefits in patients with IBD who implement a yoga practice.
You can read the study here: Yoga in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Narrative Review
Combining Yoga with Meditation for Ulcerative Colitis
I always recommend both yoga and meditation for ulcerative colitis.
Doing yoga before meditation is the way to a deeper and more effective meditation.
Yoga also has its own unique benefits for ulcerative colitis which I take a deep dive on here: Yoga for Ulcerative Colitis.
I definitely suggest combining meditation with a physical energy practice like yoga for the best results in managing and healing ulcerative colitis.
I’ve done my best here to list – and support with evidence – the myriad benefits of meditation for ulcerative colitis.
Meditation offers huge healing benefits for ulcerative colitis including a calmer and less anxious mind, fewer gastrointestinal symptoms and fewer flare-ups.
Many of the studies I discuss in this post also cite improved psychological and emotional wellbeing in ulcerative colitis patients who adopt a meditation practice.
Without a doubt, meditation is an essential practice for managing and healing ulcerative colitis.
Have you seen the benefits of a meditation practice in your own life and with your own health relative to ulcerative colitis? Let us know in the comments!