There are many reasons for people to meditate. Some do it for their mental health, some for religious reasons, while others simply do it in order to stay calm and in touch with their inner selves. Meditation also has many therapeutic properties, as it can help control pain and improve sleep, but also regulate blood pressure and even reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in women. However, just like meditation can influence your health, your mental and physical state can also affect your ability to meditate. To be more specific, conditions such as anemia have been known to interfere with your focus and energy levels to such an extent that practicing mindfulness becomes nearly impossible. If you value your mindfulness practice but have reasons to believe you’re anemic, here is some useful information for you.
Anemia is a condition tightly related to your red blood cell count. In short, the job of your red blood cells is to carry oxygen all through your body, which they can do due to their content of the iron-rich protein called hemoglobin. When there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in your organism, you become anemic and the tissues in your body can’t get an adequate amount of oxygen. In order for your body to produce the necessary red blood cells, it needs various nutrients, but the most essential ones are iron, vitamin B-12, and folate. There are different types of anemia, the most common one being iron deficiency anemia. Whichever one of them you may have, it’s crucial that you visit your doctor, since anemia can be a sign of some much more serious illnesses. The symptoms of anemia include fatigue and weakness, lightheadedness and dizziness, but also tiredness, irregular heartbeats, headaches and shortness of breath.
Although not all types of anemia can really be prevented, you can take some precautions in order to prevent the most frequent ones, iron deficiency anemia or various vitamin deficiency anemias. Basically, it comes down to maintaining a healthy diet, which contains all the right nutrients, most importantly iron and different vitamins and minerals. If you’re looking for iron-rich foods, you should eat more red meat, liver and kidney. On the other hand, if you’re vegan, you can eat dark leafy greens, legumes, whole grains and dried fruit. However, since the iron from plant-based foods isn’t absorbed as well as the one from meat, you should also consume food which contains high amounts of vitamin C. As far as B-12 is concerned, you can get it from meat, poultry, fish and eggs, and vegans can turn to nutritional yeast and certain types of mushrooms, algae and seaweed. These foods are also what you should eat if you’re already anemic. And if the food doesn’t do the trick, talk to your doctor about the supplements you can take. For instance, you’ll probably benefit from taking quality amino energy supplements. These are especially good for people who do sports and are vegan, so anybody can take them.
So, knowing all there is about anemia, in what way can it influence your meditation? First, when you want to meditate, you should kneel or sit down, often cross-legged, and make yourself comfortable. Many people will be able to do this without a problem, but one of the symptoms of anemia are leg cramps, which might make sitting painful. Then you need to breathe deeply and slowly, trying to focus your attention on the depth and the rhythm of your breath. This may also be problematic, since another symptom of anemia is shortness of breath, as is the inability to fully concentrate on anything, both of which can disturb your mindfulness practice. Furthermore, when meditating, you should be present in the moment, which is also hard when you’re fatigued and dizzy, and your heart beats irregularly. And let’s not forget the lack of energy you feel, which can cause you not to have the will or the strength to try meditating in the first place.
Finding out the cause of your anemia and making sure that there isn’t some underlying illness you need to treat is important. So, for the sake of your body and your mind, see your doctor and ask for advice about what you should do about this condition.