According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies one in three people suffer chronic pain, which is defined as having pain that persists without acute injury. It can make actively participating in a meaningful life a struggle and affects:
- Job performance
- Sleep quality
- Sleep quantity
Until recently, the most common solution to manage chronic pain was medication. However, people are beginning to look for more natural alternatives.
Mindfulness is a concept that’s gained popularity in recent years, despite having roots in ancient culture. Helping people focus and be present in the moment, mindfulness is a useful tool and has been proven to help in the management of:
- And, Chronic Pain
In 2015 Fadel Zeidan, PhD, a scientist at the University of California at San Diego, and his colleagues conducted a study using brain images to see how mindfulness reduced activation in the pain centers of the brain.
The result of their study proved that some people can reduce, and in some cases eliminate, pain through ongoing mindfulness practices, even getting rid of the need for pain medication.
Beginning a practice of mindfulness can be helpful for people who suffer from chronic pain. Mindfulness helps to:
- Refocus thought
- Eliminate negative thought
- And, reduce tension and stress
To learn more about how mindfulness meditation helps with pain management check out these resources:
- The National Institutes of Health found mindfulness meditation improved pain, depression and quality of life in patients suffering from chronic pain.
- The National Library of Medicine published two studies that were conducted in 2013 and 2015 by K.Reiner, L. Tibi and JD Lipsitz revealed mindfulness improved the quality of life in patients when compared to usual pain treatments.
- A Different Approach To Pain Management: Mindfulness Meditation by Fadel Zeidan. A TEDx Talk – https://com/watch?v=OLQJJ6Qwww.youtube.
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers of using mindfulness for pain reduction developed a technique called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. One of the reasons it’s not called Mindfulness Based Pain Reduction is Kabat-Zinn believed that when patients can detach themselves from the response to pain and focus on actual physical sensations in the body they can have a healthier response and suffer from pain less.
Mindfulness changes the mental experience of pain by:
- Increasing a sense of self-acceptance
- Increasing emotional flexibility
- Increasing a sense of compassion
- Increasing acceptance of your present moment
- Increasing the relaxation response
- Decreasing avoiding behaviors
- Decreasing reactivity to pain sensations
Top Four Favorite Mindfulness Techniques
- The Body Scan. One of the most popular for pain relief, this mindfulness techniques gives you time to focus on each body part and how it’s feeling in the moment.
Step 1 – Find a relaxing, comfortable place to lie down. Ensure there are no distractions Step 2 – Notice the parts of your body that are in contact with the surface you’re laying on. Find any lingering tension and focus on relaxing those parts of your body. Step 3 – Let go of the past. Forget about the future. Focus on being present in the moment and let all other thoughts simply drift away. Step 4 – Scan your body from the tips of the toes to the top of the head. Notice how each body part feels. Don’t pass judgement on the feeling. Just accept each feeling that comes along and then move on. Step 5 – Become aware of your body as a whole. Stay present in the moment feeling any feeling that comes up fully and completely.
- Guided Mindfulness Meditation, such as BrainTap. This type of mindfulness involves listening to a calming, soothing voice either on a recording or in person that helps you relax into a meditative state.
- Mindful Movement. Many people use yoga and flowing body movements as a mindfulness practice. In this practice you focus on your breathing and how your body is moving gently in any moment in time. For a beginners video on mindfulness movement click HERE.
- Mindful grounding. For some people being out in nature is very relaxing. It helps them maintain a focus on the present moment. When you’re walking in nature, focus on your breathing. Focus on the steps you’re taking. Focus on the sensation of the earth beneath your feet. If you’re able, walk in bare feet to get the full benefit of the earth’s powerful energy. For more information on grounding and its benefits click HERE.
Buddhists learned long ago that being mindful helped reduce pain. The ancient Buddhist text called the Sullatta Sutta states that mindfulness practitioners have the ability to experience pain but then let go of it.
Pain is your brain’s way of letting you know something is wrong. Your brain processes the injury and then shares the information. That has a direct effect on the level of pain you’re feeling at any moment in time. In other words, the only reason you feel pain is because your brain tells you to.
When we are in pain, we feel stress. When we’re stressed our bodies release hormones, which increases our inflammation and increases pain to areas that are already hurting.
When we take time to be mindful, we shift our thoughts to peace and calm we can calm the stress and stop the release of those stress hormones.The brain releases endorphins, which reduces pain naturally. Our muscles relax which relaxes the joints and as a result our pain lessens.
Mindfulness works because it teaches us to redirect our focus away from what is causing us physical discomfort; therefore, reducing the pain itself.
Integrating mindfulness into your daily tasks such as driving, walking, or even doing the dishes can help this become an automatic part of your daily life. When you’re dealing with chronic pain, this means mindfulness can help take your mind off your pain and refocus it to the positives of where you are in a particular moment, giving your attention to the task at hand and improving your ability to function.
The problem is, mindfulness can be a difficult skill to acquire, but using a tool to help you practice can help evolve your skills faster with less effort. BrainTap is a great way to incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into your daily routine. The technology increases the production of beta-endorphins–the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones–in our body by 25% in a single session.
So make sure you’re incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine and live happier.