I’m no expert on meditation, but I’ve read a bit about it and try to practice occasionally. Maybe I’m just stretching the concept, but it occured to me this morning that a hangover can be very meditative.

There is nothing quite like the skull splitting migraine that lingers after a spirited night out. You wake up realizing, there’s nowhere to hide between these two throbbing temples. No amount of aspirin can save you. It’s practically impossible to concentrate on anything, and while there are many homespun remedies to cure a hangover, they all need time.

Unsurprisingly, the one thing you can concentrate on is the overwhelming pain. Surprisingly, that focusing actually helps. Like some kind of quantum particle, “watching” a hangover causes it’s course to alter. The sensation shifts from migraine to massage, but like deep tissue style, ‘cause “no pain, no gain,” right? That’s right. With enough concentration, that endless ringing in your head turns into the sweetest sustained note of a shred-tastic guitar solo.

Really, this is already a common pracitice in meditation. Specifically it is advice given for when you have an itch while meditating. Instead of breaking your concentration and reaching to scratch, good practice is to aim your concentration towards the itch. Exploring the sensation causes it to dissolve under scrutiny, and you’ll discover there is no itch.

While your hangover may not dissolve so easily, I find that exploring the sensation and watching it to be a helpful coping mechanism. I actually think this is true for a lot of pain. For instance, if you’re ever hurting while out on a run, concentrating on the pain counterintuitively helps. Instead of trying to forget about pain only to be rudely reminded, you can learn more about it. Maybe how to avoid it, maybe that the sensation is not really there. One major difference though, with a hangover unlike with running, you probably don’t have many distractions to ruin your concentration.

Assuming you planned well enough to be able to lie in bed on this particular morning, you shouldn’t have much other stimuli. The fact that you cannot really do much else makes you a bit of a captive audience to this migraine. With no better options, concentrating on the pain leads you into a reflective state. You’ll start to notice your thoughts wander, maybe filled with memories of the night before. They are distractions, observe them, appreciate them, and nudge your conciousness back towards the pain. Instead of watching your breathing, focus on the single pure sensation demanding your body’s attention.

Some may think I’m glorifying excessive drinking. They would be wrong, I’m only trying to offer some thoughts to help cope. Others may think I’m a wimp for lying in bed instead of getting up and handling life with a hangover. They would be right, it’s New Year’s Day and I’ve already hit my annual hangover quota.