Can Meditation Help You to Cope with Chronic Pain?
Meditation might be a foreign concept to some, with the term conjuring images of monks clad in saffron orange robes, sat cross-legged atop a serene mountain. But you don’t have to be a yogi to reap the rewards of meditation. It comes in many forms and can be tailored to suit your needs, from stress reduction to gratitude contemplation and even helping you manage chronic pain.
Meditation and Chronic Pain
They say that if you don’t have time to meditate, then it’s time to meditate! But meditation isn’t just about de-cluttering your mind – it’s about being in-tune with your mind-body connection. Meditation for pain relief involves taking a moment to look internally. Although paying attention to your pain might sound like a nightmare, practicing mindfulness can help you to own your pain and become the master of it.
Chronic Pain Meditation Techniques
Living with chronic pain can leave you in a struggle against your suffering, trying to block it out. But it might be time to try riding the wave of pain and focusing inward before letting go.
Evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation calms brain habits linked to coping with pain and over time can alter the brain structure so that pain is not felt as intensely. People who suffer from chronic pain may have increased amounts of pain-sensing brain tissue, as their body sends frequent signals of suffering to the brain. Amazingly, meditation could change the chemistry of your body and lead to more successful pain management.
Guided Meditation for Chronic Pain Management
Guided meditation is a great place to start if you’re new to mindfulness and meditation. The benefit of a guided practice is that someone leads you through the process with the aim of achieving mental and physical healing. Meditation becomes a useful tool in dealing with physical suffering by making you keenly aware of the relationship you have with your pain.
It takes discipline but doesn’t have to be time consuming. Practicing mindfulness for just 20 minutes a day could put you on track for a better quality of life.
Have you heard of MBSR?
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s to treat patients struggling with life’s difficulties and physical and/or mental illness. It encompasses a range of techniques, including:
- focusing on your breath
- moving your awareness through your body and visualising areas of pain, like a body scan
- mindful stretching and yoga
It’s about analysing your suffering in a non-judgemental way, delving into what the sensation really is – tingling, tightness, throbbing – and letting go of the broad and all-encompassing concept of ‘pain’, making it easier to bear.
Mindfulness can help to put your pain into perspective by not raising your awareness of just the negative feelings that your body and mind may harbour, but also the positive things you are experiencing in that very moment, either internally or externally. Your pain is not the only thing going on in your life, but rather a thread of a tapestry. The key, according to MBSR, is to acknowledge that thread and then step back to look at the bigger picture.
Meditation Apps for Chronic Pain
There are loads of apps for mindfulness which make meditation accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a quiet space. Take a look at the list below for apps which can be easily incorporated into your day-to-day life:
With this app you can select from meditation, movement or sleep classes. Try the free trial on android or iOS to experience pain management courses which aim to change your relationship with pain by observing it from a new perspective.
This app is primarily focused on stress reduction, sleep and relaxation meditation but does include guided body scan meditation sessions that are available to subscribers.
This easy-to-get-on-with app offers free guided meditations, allowing you to have a present moment away from your stresses. Meditation for chronic pain can be short and sweet with options to meditate from seven minutes.
This mindfulness/meditation app is designed with children and families in mind, so if your young ones are suffering with chronic pain this would be a great option. Guided classes are aimed to provide kids with the tools to practice focus and clarity which they may otherwise struggle with while battling chronic pain. This app can also be tailored to adults.
Trying Something New
Have you tried meditation or mindfulness techniques as a way to manage your pain? If so, share your experiences with us! At To Better Days we are trying to gain a better understanding of chronic pain, which makes your stories enormously important to us.
We would also love for you to join our community on Facebook and get involved in the chronic pain conversation!