Using meditation to relieve chronic pain
If you live with chronic pain or illness, it can sometimes feel like only respite available is heavy pain killers.
And there’s certainly no problem with relieving pain medically when it’s necessary. But as a permanent lifestyle choice, it carries many negative side effects.
Meditation can offer immediate relief of pain. Sometimes this pain relief is temporary, but, when practiced over the long term, it can also deliver permanent improvement.
While there’s no magic bullet that will work for all meditators, all the time, continued practice of meditation can not only reduce pain in many, but also:
- reduce stress and tension
- improve sense of health and well being
- help manage emotions
- create a greater sense of calm
- quieten and focus the mind
- help achieve greater balance in life
- rejuvenate the spirit as an act of self-care
- develop greater awareness and insight into self and relationship
- increase presence and mindfulness
- improve ability to handle anxiety and situations that produce nervousness or insecurity
- improves a sense of personal freedom and responsibility
- develop qualities of patience, surrender, acceptance, equanimity, compassion, clarity, non-judgement, trust and more
- provide experiences of spiritual depth and connection
Meditation for chronic pain is too hard - I can’t quiet my mind!
Meditation can take many forms and some do require long periods of sitting with a quiet mind. But thankfully, there are also many forms of meditation that are not so demanding.
Even short, simple chronic pain relief focused meditations can produce strong results.
Pain-specific visualisations and guided meditations can, in short periods of time like 5-15 minutes, relieve many forms of chronic pain and offer hope that there is an alternative to drugs.
Meditation is, however, a practice.
You’ll get better at it the more you do it.
This is not only true because humans generally do get better at things with repetition. When you begin meditating, you’re building new neural pathways, that means making new connections in your brain. This takes time.
It takes time to reinforce those pathways so they become normal and natural pathways for your brain to take.
Regular meditation for your chronic pain will slowly build this “naturalisation” of the meditation pathways in the brain. This will make the relaxation state quicker to achieve, more long lasting once you’re there, and more effective at reducing chronic pain, as well as bringing the many benefits listed above.
Meditation for chronic pain is possible for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding the methods that work best for you, and doing them regularly.
Meditations particularly suited to helping chronic pain
- Body awareness meditations such as body scans or body sweeps
- Creative imagery around the pain at its site in the body, and pain centres in the brain
- Breathing techniques that increase relaxation or divert attention away from pain.
- Visualising light and other healing elements
- Meditations designed to relax or rest the body, including muscle relaxing and yoga nidra
- Meditations to help calm emotions associated with pain and reduce stress and resistance to it
- Visualising the efficacy of medical treatments, muscle massage or the work of the immune system
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