Did you know that meditation can help with hot flashes? I didn’t. Honestly. As a meditation teacher with more than twenty years’ experience, it had never really occurred to me that meditation could help with hot flashes. That is, until one of my students asked me about it recently and I started researching.
It turns out that yes, meditation and other relaxation techniques can have a wonderfully therapeutic effect on hot flushes. By meditating, you can reduce both the frequency and intensity of your hot flushes. And on this page, I will share the best meditation for doing so (you can find a guided meditation below).
What Are Hot Flashes And Why Does Meditation Help?
Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth over the face, torso, and the rest of the upper body. They can cause intense sweating and red skin. Usually, they are caused by menopause but they can also be caused by other medical conditions such as some types of cancer, hyperthyroidism, and also as a side effect of some medications. Smoking and obesity can also cause hot flashes and night sweats.
Although mostly physical in nature, hot flashes do have an important psychological component. In fact, a majority of women who experience hot flashes state that it also leads to anxiety, embarrassment, and psychological distress.
The good news is that meditation can help.
How Meditation And Relaxation Techniques Help Hot Flushes
Some people wonder if anything can help with hot flashes, and the answer is an affirmative yes. Basic wellbeing steps such as nutrition and exercise can help with hot flashes, and so can relaxation techniques like meditation.
Mind / Body training techniques like meditation have been shown to help women to reduce both the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Menopause.org recommends three exercises in particular: paced breathing, word repetition, and meditation (see below). This is backed by research from the University of Southampton.
Researchers asked one hundred and fifty postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer to take part in a study. One group of women were given a single training session in which they were taught a relaxation technique based on deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. They used this technique for twenty minutes every day for one month. They then recorded the incidents and intensity of hot flushes in a diary, along with their feelings of anxiety and their quality of life. Meanwhile, a second group of women were given advice on menopause management but no relaxation training.
After one month, both the frequency and severity of hot flushes in the group that use the relaxation technique went down by 22 per cent, which was equivalent to seven flushes per week. The control group experienced no change. Hence, researchers concluded that relaxation techniques are a suitable therapy for hot flashes.
Cool Mind, Cool Body
There is a reason why relaxation techniques like meditation help with hot flushes. And it all comes down to psychology.
Studies show that psychological distress (such as anxiety) increases the intensity of hot flushes. This also becomes a vicious cycle because hot flushes interfere with the regular steps we take for psychological wellness, such as exercising, socializing, and leisure activities, which lowers quality of life. However, relaxation techniques and meditation reduce the psychological aspects of hot flushes, while also reducing their intensity, and thereby improve quality of life.
One study shows that a form of meditation called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is particularly effective for this. This is a method in which we progressively scan the body from head to toe (otherwise called Body Scan Meditation). This method trains the mind to be less reactive to physical sensations while also promoting calmness of mind. I’ll show you how to do it in our meditation, below.
Meditation For Hot Flashes
- You may do this meditation either sitting down or lying down. Either way, make sure that you have good posture. Your spine should be straight but relaxed. If you are sitting, make sure your feet at squarely planted on the ground. (For more, read our guide to Meditation Positions).
- Close your eyes (but of course, continue reading this so you know the steps first).
- Breathe in through your nose to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Breathe out through your mouth to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Repeat.
- As you are breathing in this pattern of fours, observe your breath moving through your body. Do this for several breaths.
- Now we want to introduce repeated words. The words we will use are “Cool” and “Calm”. Alternate between these words as you exhale. So, you will breath in, hold, breathe out while saying “Cool”, and then pause. And that is one breath. And then repeat, breathe in, hold, breathe out saying “Calm”, pause. And then repeat.
- Continue to breathe and recite the words “Cool” and “Calm” as described above. While you are doing this, visualize passing cooling, calming energy around your body. Do this for a few minutes.
- Now, we will continue the breathing and the word recitation as above. However, we will also progressively scan the body from head to toe. This works as so. Bring your mind to your head and face. Observe the energy taking place there. Then, on one exhale say “Cool” and on the next exhale say “Calm”. As you do this, visualize sending cooling, calming energy to your head and face.
- Repeat the step above for each part of your body, moving gradually down from your head to your toes.
- Once you get to your toes, take a few more breaths, then gradually open your eyes.
- Note that this meditation sounds a lot harder than it is. If you spend a few minutes doing the steps above, it will become easy. And of course, you can also use the guided meditation that I have shared above.
Hot flashes are a real bother for many people. Not only do they cause uncomfortable physical sensations, but they also affect our quality of life and our psychological wellbeing. Thankfully, meditation techniques can help. Above, I have shared both a guided meditation and written instructions for you to use. I hope you find the meditation helpful. If you would like my personal help in overcoming your hot flushes, book an online meditation lesson with me today (visit the homepage of this site).
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison