Mindfulness For Chronic Pain
Eight Week Program
Come and check out the program. Most people start to experience a greater sense of well-being almost immediately. The eight week program deepens that sense. Letting go of the suffering is moving into the freedom to experience our lives more fully.
Programs are $150.00 for eight sessions, workbook and meditation CD
There are essentially two kinds of pain: acute and chronic. We are all familiar with acute pain since it helps us to survive. Most of us pull our hand away if we touch a hot stove. The worst that might happen is that we develop a blister that heals by itself over a few days and we no longer experience any discomfort. The pain that we experience triggers the reaction to pull our hand away and saves us from more serious injury. People who cannot feel pain tend to have lots of injuries. You could call acute pain good pain. The message the body is receiving is useful.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, does not seem to serve any purpose and can create suffering in our lives. At a minimum, chronic pain can lower our enjoyment of life and lead to discouragement and depression. It can feel overwhelming. One treatment that has been in the news lately is the use of opiods to lower the intensity. Taking the substance has the potential for addiction and misuse, as was seen in the highly publicized death of Prince. Taking a pill is easy and requires nothing of the person experiencing the chronic pain. The growing awareness of the dangers of opiods and the growing numbers of publicized deaths from overdoses has created a treatment dilemma.
Mindfulness is an option that has been around for many years and has been adapted to specifically deal with chronic pain issues. I started using it about 25 years ago in working with people on dialysis who would experience pain. Since the patients were having their vital signs monitored, the nurses would notice that as the patients were becoming more present with their sensations, their heart rate and blood pressure was going back to normal levels. In other words, the stress response to the pain was being reduced. The sensations were still there but they weren't being experienced as pain.
Mindfulness has been studied for its effectiveness in dealing with pain and has been found to reduce the “unpleasantness” of pain by 57 percent to as much as 93 percent in accomplished meditators. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Having a body means that we will experience pain. As was pointed out earlier, pain can be useful. Resisting the pain creates the suffering, and the greater the resistance, the greater the suffering. Mindfulness reduces the suffering by reducing the resistance and by helping us to break up the pain into its component parts that can then be dealt with individually. For example, tightening the muscles around the pain increases the pain while relaxing the muscles lowers the pain. Just the simple anticipating the pain increases the level of unpleasantness. If the pain results from a car accident, for example, getting into a car can cause constriction and driving can increase the tension even more.
Dealing with pain through the practice of mindfulness can have many positive effects on your life. By being mindful you can deal with depression and anxiety better among other benefits in your life. Unlike opiods, mindfulness has only positive side effects. One of my favorite quotes is from John Lennon of the Beatles who said “Life is what happens while we're busy doing something else.” A benefit of mindfulness is getting back to your life rather than being distracted by our thoughts about our life. Learning to be with our pain can be a path to enriching our entire life.