meditating with common cold

Meditating While Having The Flu


Most of us believe that the practice of meditation is only done when everything in our lives is going smoothly, and when we are happy and healthy. This means that when we are sad, anxious, or sick, we should avoid meditating until we have solved the problems we have so that we can go back to it.

On the contrary, meditation should be practiced even, and especially, when things are not working out as we’d expect. When we are feeling low, sad, and sick, that’s when we should brace ourselves and sit for our meditation sessions. Although it might be cumbersome to meditate while not feeling well, there is a way to get around most of the difficulty.

Here, we are going to focus on how hard meditation with a cold can be, how we should go about it so that we can still benefit from the practice, and how meditation helps improve our health status.

Meditating With a Cold And The Difficulties Involved

When we have a cold, our bodies are everything but at peace. During this period, we are dealing with runny noses, sore throats, constant sneezing, sniffles, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, a bit of a fever, feeling sleepy, general mild body aches, coughing, swollen lymph nodes and generally feeling unwell.

These symptoms make it even harder for us to practice meditation seamlessly and be fully immersed in our sessions. When you are meditating and you feel an itch or have watery nasal secretions that you need to take care of, you may notice that your attention and focus on the practice goes down and you may forget where you were before you had to take care of the cold-related issues.

Also, the general feeling of sickness and sleepiness adds to the overall difficulty of meditation. When you sit down to meditate and genuinely want to go through with your session to the end but you have that sickly feeling overwhelming you, you may find that you constantly direct your attention to how your body feels and how hard it is becoming for you to meditate. You may even feel too weak to meditate and put a stop to your session so that you go rest, depending on how you feel affected you are by the cold.

Ideally, meditating when you are healthy is a bit demanding but when you are sick with a cold, it becomes almost twice as difficult. However, all hope is not lost and we can always find a way to navigate fairly easily through our sessions even in this state.

How to Go About Your Meditation Session With a Cold

To begin with, it is highly recommended that you visit a doctor about your condition, especially when it is worse. You will get treatment or medication that can help reduce the negative effects the cold has on you and help you recover faster.

Having done that, the other 3 key things you will need to practice to make meditation work while having a common cold are mindfulness, compassion, and determination.

Let’s see how they play out.

Assuming you have sat down for your meditation session and you have constant coughs, a runny nose, and itchy eyes and nose. Those are more than enough to interfere with your meditation and make you have very poor interaction and depth in your session if you approach the session the usual way.

However, you can turn things around when you aim and are determined to be mindful and compassionate of yourself throughout the session.

So how should you be determined to be compassionate and mindful?

Well, many meditation styles include the aspect of mindfulness in them. Some styles including mindfulness meditation, vipassana meditation, and body scan meditation encourage the practitioner to be aware of the breath and their bodies as the initial stage of the meditation. People who do such meditation styles need not worry about being mindful as that is part of their practice.

For those people who work with meditation styles that don’t incorporate mindfulness, you can begin with a quick mindfulness practice to help ground you well for the meditation practice you normally do. And all you have to do is take about 3 to 5 minutes to be mindful of your breath and body.

You begin by noticing your breath, how air gets into your body through your nose, and the changes it brings within you like expanding the chest and others. The same goes for exhalation.

After that, you direct your attention and awareness to the parts of your body affected by the cold. If you are having a stuffy nose, be aware of the stuffiness. If you are having some itches, be aware of the itches and try to scratch the itching parts in your mind first before you actually do it with your hands. And when you are doing the scratching physically, be aware of the activity. If you are having a runny nose, be aware of how you reach out for your handkerchief and how you blow your nose.

In essence, be aware of yourself, the state you are in, and the activities that you do to manage the cold, as you meditate.

For the determination part, you should aim to finish your meditation session as you are supposed to and also seek to do everything required in your meditation style with all your heart. When you are sick, you just want to lie down for a while or sleep for many hours, and you may get the feeling of not wanting to do your meditation or not getting to go all the way to the end.

If you feel like it is too much work to meditate when you are sick, just remember why you began meditation and keep in mind that if you miss the first session, you’re going to miss another, and then another and before long you will find that you have not meditated for the last 1 or 2 months, which will affect your development and improvement.

Finally, for the compassion part, you should aim to be gentle and compassionate towards yourself.

As you struggle to do your meditation session, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t judge or criticize the small efforts you’re putting in. The small progress you’re making is worthwhile and much better than someone who didn’t do it at all.

Also, remembering the fact that what you are experiencing is what other people experience too when they have the flu or when they are meditating while sick, helps you to be compassionate towards everyone who is sick because you now understand firsthand what they go through.

There are even others who go through more pain and discomfort and still meditate as they should. This mindset and attitude will help you appreciate yourself, be more loving and kind towards others, and be all the more determined to keep doing your practice.

How Meditating With a Cold Helps

When we are sick, we tend to overthink how sick we are, which then affects how we feel about our health condition and how much it actually affects us.

When we have a cold, we feel like the nasal congestion, as well as other symptoms, are making it hard for us to do anything and they are really making our bodies weak. But to be honest, these are what our thoughts and feelings make us believe.

And when we take time to be aware of these thoughts and feelings constantly, we realize that the cold doesn’t have as much effect on us as we previously thought or felt.

Meditation, with the help of mindfulness, allows us to see and experience reality as it is without the interference of our feelings and thoughts which often amplify the effects.

Meditation also increases our energy levels so that we can keep going and handle the tasks for the day despite how sick we feel. It also provides us the focus and attention on our tasks and helps us keep working for long if we are determined to do it.

When we recover from the cold and we keep meditating, the practice can help us reduce the chances of catching a cold again in the near future by improving our ability to function and enhancing the quality of our lives (1)(2).


Ideally, meditation is a good exercise to work with even when having the flu.

While we may get too caught up by the running nose, the sore throat, the closed nostrils, the hoarse voice, and other effects the cold has on our bodies, being aware of ourselves, thoughts, feelings, and sensations while meditating in this sick state helps us have a deeper experience with our practice and also helps improve our inner strength and mental clarity.

The idea is that we should aim to be aware of the present moment and what we think, feel and sense at that moment as we meditate. Also, being aware of ourselves even after our meditation sessions can still help us be able to manage the flu in a better way than if we aren’t aware.


2 thoughts on “Meditating While Having The Flu

  1. Jenni Elliott says:

    Thank you for your article about meditating with a cold. Before I read it, like others, I thought meditation was only good for you when you were in good health, so you could reap the benefits. You dispelled that myth straight away with your explanation of how to have total awareness of your bodily functions when meditating with a cold. And also how that would be of benefit to you overall. 

    1. Improve Your Brain Power Team says:

      Hi there Jenni, 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the article. 🙂

      We are glad to hear from you and to hear that you found the information here useful.

      We encourage you to share it with your friends and family so that more people can benefit from it.

      We wish you all the best with your meditation practice.



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