Over the past 18 months, I have been learning how to manage pain in a whole new way. It’s completely changed my life, and my outlook on health. Pharmaceuticals can only do so much. After a while pain medication can stop giving the body the originally intended benefit, and actually cause more harm than good. I found that my pain receptors were shot, and pain to me is ten times what it would be to a normal person.
My nervous system is like a circuit board that has gone haywire. Being introduced to Mindfulness as a way of pain management, along with breathing exercises and physical therapy has allowed me to slowly taper off the pain medication and I am already half way there. I am feeling so very much better.
Mindfulness is relatively simple concept that can yield extremely powerful results. One of the foremost authors on the subject of mindfulness,
Jon Kabat-Zinn, says :
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way:
On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”
What I am learning through mindfulness practice is how to be here, and only here, fully present. I notice myself wanting to worry about the future, and just bring my awareness back to right now. I notice thoughts about the past, and how I could have been better, but it’s just a thought, and I let it pass by. Very cool. Now I’m not saying that I never worry or think about the past, but mindfulness has helped me tremendously with feeling anxious, and depression.
Here is another explanation:
“Mindfulness means deliberately attending to and becoming more aware of our experience: our thoughts, feelings and body sensations. This allows us to clearly perceive thoughts, physical sensations, emotions and events at the moment they occur without reacting in an automatic or habitual way. Experiences don’t overwhelm us and we become steady through life’s ups and downs.”
Founder of Breatheworks
where her site says:
“The Breathworks approach to Mindfulness-Based Pain Management (MBPM) is the most comprehensive, in-depth, scientifically up-to-date and user-friendly approach to learning the how of living with chronic pain and reclaiming one’s life that I know of…..I admire Vidyamala tremendously… her approach could save your life and give it back to you.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses Professor Emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
As for my pain management, the psychologist I see uses the same program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and has done some mindfulness exercises with me, in his office that have really helped me calm my pain down. He recorded them so I can listen any time. One is a Body Scan, which takes you through each part of the body very slowly, but in a specific way. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the authority and pioneer in this field. His books are very good, like Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go, There You Are. Look him up on You Tube and Amazon.
Meditation and more specifically Buddhism, Yoga, TM, and other types of spiritual practice is also mindfulness practice, so it’s by no means new, and in fact thousands of years old. Allowing your mind to quiet, being still and going within is the first step. There’s noting to do believe it or not. Just sit, be still and allow thoughts to pass, allow peace to come, Allow God to speak to you. It’s amazing.
Pain can be diminished greatly by taking focus to present moment awareness, and simply breathing. My physical therapist showed me this video about
Simple Diaphramatic Breathing
As you see the diaphram is free moving, gently expanding and contracting. It’s separate from the lungs, and can be very beneficial in helping the body to relax. As it pertains to mindfulness, when you concentrate on the diaphram going up and down inside your body, and picture it suspended like this video, breathing becomes focused, and more calming,very quickly, the blood pressure can go down, pain and stress can be reduced as well.
I am JUST learning this stuff, so this is a very basic overview, and if you want to learn more I would recommend a few things. First off, if you have any kind of chronic condition, this works wonders, so ask your doctor for a referral to a local therapist or mindfulness program in your area, if you don’t go to one already, and ask about mindfulness exercises. They will know.
Some great mindfulness resources are:
Any book or video by Jon Kabat Zinn
Finding Peace in a Frantic World
That should get you started. It does not take much as it it extremely easy and very simple. You will love it.
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