Mindfulness & Physical Pain

Many of us suffer from chronic pain and have been dealing with the frustration of balancing life with this pain. I have been a migraine sufferer for many years. I have tried every type of strategy, medication, and meditation to rid myself of the unwanted pain that disrupts my life. I was thinking about this pain today and decided to focus on just allowing myself to be there with the pain while meditating today. So what does that mean?

Well, I was listening to Pema Chodron on Hoopla today in Making Friends with Your Mind: The Key to Contentment and she talks about her own chronic back pain and how that limits her to sitting for only 20 minutes of meditation. She suggested trying to create a relationship, a “friendship,” with the pain, but not set the goal to rid yourself of the pain completely. Some things are just not “fixable.” This may very well be something that you aren’t going to eliminate from your life. However, you can find ways to be mindful with the pain. For instance, when we say allow yourself to be present with the feelings of pain during meditation that means we adopt a mindful practice. We allow ourselves to feel the pain, not to run from the pain, but to go into the energy of this pain. I know it seems counter-intuitive. Our first inclination is to run, avoid, or ignore unpleasant things when they arise. It might take some time to try a different mindset.

When I had another bout of head pain, instead of trying to think positive thoughts or to deny the pain exists, I instead did a 20 minute meditation and focused on where the pain was, what it felt like, how large was it. I just allowed myself to feel the sharp edges of the pain and not attach a judgement to it. Meaning I didn’t say to myself, Laura get it together you help balance other people out why can’t you make this head pain go away. I just felt the pain, accepted it as part of my life, and then let go of the anger I felt towards this limitation. Because I recognized I was indeed angry that I had this. Many times I’ve had to cancel plans, call out sick from work, or just not been my best because of a migraine that came on without warning. When I let go of this concept of trying to be rid of this pain, I felt my frustration with it go out the window. I accept that it’s there and learn to work around it. This has helped me feel better on an emotional level, perhaps not on a physical one though. Like everyone else, I am a constant work in progress.

Have you tried to look at your pain from a different point of view? If you have not yet tried meditation, I highly recommend getting started with even 5 minutes a day. You will see the benefits in time.

Be well friends!

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