Get help and support. At first, most people need some formal instruction in how to meditate effectively, Rudolph says. Join a meditation group led by a therapist, or use books, websites or tapes that guide you in the meditation and relaxation process.

Groups can introduce you to other people experiencing arthritis pain so you can share experiences and feel that you are not alone, Rudolph says. She suggests speaking with friends or contacting your local Arthritis Foundation office to find meditation courses or therapists in your area.

The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is the home of a widely practiced meditation technique called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and its website has a great deal of information on resources to get you started.

Steven Rosenzweig, MD, a physician who has researched the positive effects of meditation on people with arthritis and other forms of chronic pain, suggests taking the eight-week MBSR course offered in many areas, or using workbooks and tapes that guide you through meditation and relaxation techniques. Resources on the MBSR course, created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. More information on these techniques can be found at Kabat-Zinn’s website.

Do what feels right. There are many different forms of meditation or mindfulness-based practices, including yoga-based meditation, contemplative walking, deep breathing exercises, and chanting. Find the one that works for you and feels comfortable to you, Rudolph says. If you simply want to sit quietly and focus on positive thoughts, that’s meditation too.

Mantras, words or phrases that many people chant repeatedly to focus their thoughts during meditation, aren’t necessary for everyone. Or, if you decide to use a mantra, pick one that is meaningful for you, such as “May I be free of pain?” or even “I love my cat,” she says.

Mantras are wonderful for some people to say out loud or inwardly, but they’re just another way to focus.” Even counting can help you focus and relax during meditation, she says.

Whether you meditate alone or in a group setting, use meditation as a way to develop positive thoughts about your life and not letting arthritis pain take over your life, Rudolph and other experts note.

“Really, what it funnels down to is our sense of self-worth. For people with arthritis, they should ask, ‘What is my quality of life? How will arthritis affect my relationships?’ The focus of mindfulness practice is our inherent self-worth.”