Mindfulness Meditation and Pain Management

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People with chronic pain have discovered meditation as a way to cope with their situation. Mindfulness meditation is a special practice that teaches a person to detach themselves from their pain. This gives them better control over how their body reacts to being uncomfortable. Here is how this meditative practice can help you with your chronic pain.

Meditation As Part of a Pain Management Plan

Meditation should be included as one of many treatment options in your chronic pain treatment plan. A study performed by Wake Forest University showed that people who meditated needed nearly 40 percent less pain medication than those who didn’t. Diet, exercise, medication, acupuncture, support groups and meditation are just some of the options you have to give you relief from the pain. Combining these techniques with your medical treatment gives you the best chance of controlling the pain. 

Treating the Response to Chronic Pain

Because the cause of chronic pain is often unknown, the symptoms are the focus of treatment. Mindfulness meditation helps you to separate yourself from the pain creating a different perception of it. When successful, you can have pain but your body will react to it differently.

To become proficient at this, you need to work with a meditation teacher who specializes in helping people with chronic pain. They will work with you to develop your own technique that gives you the most relief. Once you get direction from a teacher or mentor, you’ll be able to use this throughout day to get relief from your pain.

To give you an idea how mindfulness meditation can help with your pain, here is a simple exercise you can try at home.

Changing Your Perception of Temperature

  1. Set up a quiet place in your home in which to meditate.
  2. Place a bowl full of ice cubes within reach of your chair.
  3. Sit and relax your body, allowing yourself to become aware of your breathing.
  4. As you watch your breathing, notice the random thoughts that pop into your mind.
  5. Grab one of those thoughts, hold it out in front of you and look at it.
  6. After a few seconds, let that thought go and grab another.
  7. Develop the sense that you are separate from your thoughts as you pick them out, examine them and let them go.
  8. Now place your hand into the bowl of ice.
  9. Watch as your hand and body react to the temperature but don’t move your hand.
  10. Notice the temperature and the texture of the ice. Note if it is a pleasant or uncomfortable feeling.
  11. Leave your hand in the ice and place your attention back onto your breath. Focus on the air moving in and out of your lungs.
  12. Continue this for a few minutes then switch your attention back to your hand.
  13. Note any changes in how your hand and body want to react to the experience.

Many people report that the ice is not as cold and uncomfortable and they feel a sense of detachment from those feelings.

Practice this exercise with a warm object, a loud stereo and an unpleasant odor. Notice your ability to make these experiences less annoying or uncomfortable.

When you’ve mastered the mindfulness meditation technique, you’ll be able to detach yourself from the pain. Whenever you feel the pain coming on, this will let you re-frame the pain so it doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment of life.

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