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I'm an American living in Bangkok. I have Parkinson's disease and have recently (last week) developed restless leg syndrome. It's now 4:30 AM & I can't sleep - because of the discomfort in my legs. I haven't had a good night's sleep in a long time. I'm trying different therapies for the legs but nothing seems to work so far.

Although I have an Angel looking after me, she doesn't really know what I'm going through - and I'm trying to keep a positive outlook, which is getting harder with this sleep depravation!

I'm feeling afraid and alone. I've been attracted to Buddhism for a long time and have meditated off & on for quite a while. When I try to meditate, I'm just too uncomfortable to do so, even while lying down.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice?

  • Can you move your legs? Before going to sleep, try tapping your feet on each other while lying on your back... Anywhere starting from 100 all the way to 3000 tappings. – Andrei Volkov Nov 24 '15 at 12:49
  • @user2429448 - Massages or acupuncture may help alleviate some of the discomfort as will acupressure - shen-nong.com/eng/exam/…. I hope these options help. – Motivated Nov 25 '15 at 6:49
  • My personal view is that there are many ways to help alleviate the discomfort and although i support the answers below, i would recommend looking at multiple ways of treating the pain and not just mindfulness or awareness. – Motivated Nov 25 '15 at 6:52
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Giri-m-Ananda Sutta has details of how to overcome illness. At a superficial level you can start as following and go deeper as in the Sutta. Also there is a book Meditation on Perception: Ten Healing Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana which might be of interest.

  1. Contemplation of impermanence - When you experience any discomfort look at this as "this will also pass". Even in a terminal illness
  2. Contemplation of anatta (absence of a permanent self or soul) - detach your self from the pain
  3. Contemplation of foulness (asubha) - look at your body part by part from head to foot and foot to head
  4. Contemplation of disadvantage (danger) - everyone is prone to illness
  5. Contemplation of abandonment - contemplate on non evil thoughts
  6. Contemplation of detachment - benefits of being without attachments
  7. Contemplation of cessation - destruction from craving and relief from creating fabrications
  8. Contemplation of distaste for the whole world - abandoning latent tendencies.
  9. Contemplation of impermanence of all component things - develop revulsion
  10. Mindfulness of in-breathing and out-breathing - see Anapana Sati

With regard to sleep deprivation try Metta Bhavana. One benefit of this is you sleep easy.

Also remember pain is not pain unless you make it your pain. There is the physical sensation feeling and the mental cognising that this is my pain. The latter is bigger than the physical pain hence try look at the pain as mere pain. See: Vedenaupassana in Satipatthanas. You may also try taking a course at: http://dhamma.org/

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I'm sorry you feel uncomfortable, and afraid and alone.

Some of the answers to the question, "Experiencing physical pain", might be helpful.

The article "Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death" is perhaps the most helpful answer I have found so far.

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First, I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. I wish you strength and good health in spite of your obstacles. And you are not alone.

Many people meditate with different kinds of chronic pain. The pain hinders the process, but it need not prevent you from enjoying meditation or gaining benefits from it. If you're practicing vipassanā meditation, you can apply the mindfulness practice to your pain as part of the meditation experience.

For instance: as you focus on your breath during meditation, if you feel pain in your legs, allow your attention to remain on the pain. Be mindful of the pain: consider the way the pain feels, and examine the nature of pain in great detail. What kind of pain is it? Where exactly is it felt? Are there subtle things you can do to change the way you feel it (like shifting positions)?

Stay with the pain for a while, and then gently turn your attention back to your breath. The practice should not be to ignore the pain, or otherwise mask or cover it, but to experience it mindfully so that you can fully understand it.

You may find some comfort in this very recent study from the Journal of Neuroscience that discusses the pain relief benefit in vipassanā meditation: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/302620.php

Good luck and stay strong! You can conquer this.

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