You might think that we’re slightly mad for advocating for meditation for pain relief. Yet, the scientific evidence is clear both meditation and mindfulness for pain relief are highly effective – in fact, they can reduce the impact of chronic pain by up to 90%!
Dealing With Constant Pain Is No Joking Matter
Here’s what we know. Living with chronic pain is no fun at all. You can find yourself downing as many painkillers and natural anti-inflammatory agents as possible but sooner or later, the aches come back.
Then you’d do anything at all to stop that pain. Yet, whatever you seem to try – fails. If you move, it hurts. If you sit still, it hurts. It hurts when you do something and when you do nothing.
In concert with this your mind starts to suffer too. You become increasingly desperate and stressed and nothing seems to be OK. This stress in turn can increase the perception of the pain you feel. It’s a vicious circle which makes the pain even more unbearable.
Meditation For Pain Breaks The Circle
Meditation is not a religious practice. It has often been incorporated in Buddhist and Daoist practices but, it on its own it is simply a set of breathing exercises.
Mindfulness for pain treatment is the same thing as meditation for pain treatment. Mindfulness is a new word (or an old one depending on who you ask) that has helped some people separate the idea of religion from mediation.
How To Meditate: A Beginner’s Guide
Learning to meditate is easy. Here’s a simple cheat sheet to get you started:
- Sit or lie in a comfortable place.
- Shut your eyes.
- Breathe completely naturally.
- Focus your attention on your breathing. Examine how the breath moves through you and how your body moves with it. When your attention wanders come back to your breathing and focus again.
Do this for just 5 minutes and you’ve done your first meditation. Now, there are better techniques for using meditation for pain relief, but this is a great start.
How Does Mindfulness For Pain Relief Work?
Breathing techniques, when done right, are calming to the body. They allow us to relax and take a small measure of control over our thoughts and feelings.
Pain is wrapped in thoughts and feelings and the techniques allows us to place our pain at a more distant point in our minds, so that it is less all-consuming and easier to cope with.
When a meditating brain is observed under an MRI for a period of time, the pain processes in the brain can be observed to be “rewiring themselves” to alleviate pain. It’s science not science-fiction.
If you’d like to learn more advanced techniques for meditation for pain relief then we recommend this CD and book: PAIN: SOFTENING THE SENSATIONS — Deep Relaxation/Meditation, Guided Imagery Affirmations Proven to Relieve, Reduce, Manage Chronic and Acute Pain by Nancy Hopps.
Living with pain is always a challenge but meditation and mindfulness can bring genuine relief. Meditation can be safely used to augment any therapy or medicinal regime recommended by your physician. If you are in any doubt at all about this practice, please talk to your doctor about it.