For as long as I can remember I have had allergies; both spring and fall allergies. They were debilitating. Ragweed, pollen, leaves, grass, trees, mold and I have long suspected an allergy to chores (although that was never proven).
I initially took the traditional route in dealing with my allergies. I started with over the counter medications and graduated to prescription medications. There was even talk of moving to shots, but the diagnosis that the shots would likely be ineffective given the severity and number of allergies stopped that (fine with me; I don’t like needles anyway).
So I started a custom mix of pills, rotating them frequently and maxing out the daily dosages. Even then, there were still times when I would lie in bed in a ball, barely able to breathe, my eyes red and nose raw from sniffling. A box of Kleenex on one side and a pile of used ones littering the floor around the trash can on the other.
As a martial artist, I started learning to meditate. My meditation practice was not detailed for many years, and consisted of sitting still, legs crossed and breathing while mentally counting the seconds until I could get up and do something productive.
Slowly that started to change. I found a new teacher who gave more details on meditation, different methods and even homework for between classes. Meditation was no longer relegated to something I was just supposed to do for a couple of minutes at the end of class. It sometimes became the class and my attitude towards meditation slowly started to change.
As I began to build a consistent practice of meditation, things began to change for me. At first it was little things. I started wanting to eat healthier. I started watching less television.
And after a few years of dedicated practice, I still braced myself for the regular onslaught of allergies. And to my surprise, one spring, it never came. That first year, I did still have some of the symptoms, but it was not the devastating experience I was accustomed to. At first I thought nothing of it; maybe it was just a light allergy season.
I continued my meditation training and began to notice other changes such as healing faster, getting injured less and I was a happier person. As fall approached, I again braced myself. Kleenex was stockpiled, drugs checked and current and a few sick days were banked. To my utter delight (and puzzlement) I breezed through the fall season with barely a sniffle.
As I deepened my meditation practice and began to also focus on energy (ki, qi, chi, depending on your practice) work that winter, other changes occurred. I didn’t get sick; not once. I had fantastic amounts of energy, I was happy most of the time and my outlook on life was optimistic.
Still, as the spring approached I once again readied myself. Although looking back, my heart really wasn’t in it that year. I think deep down I felt that I no longer needed the drugs or Kleenex or odd concoctions (saline solution, steam baths and the like). And sure enough, that spring was one of the worst allergy seasons on record… for everyone else. As for me, I think I sneezed once.
That was in 2003. By that point, I was sold on meditation as a life-long practice. But if I had not been, that spring was enough to guarantee that I would continue to build and strengthen my practice. Since then, I have not had a single allergy season where I have had a major flare up. There have been a few “gentle” reminders when I have gotten away from my meditation (a little sneezing or a runny nose for a day or so); but once I focus on my practice again, my symptoms went away.
In my case, this came about through years of practice, a fantastic guide to help me grow and a lot of patience. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but if I could strengthen my body to overcome some of the worst allergy seasons on record, what can you accomplish if you try?