Meditation offers a path to inner peace for millions of chronic pain sufferers. Experiencing severe to low levels of pain, for three months or more, is a condition that affects every aspect of life. It can cost their overall health, relationships, and jobs.
Stress and chronic pain are intertwined. Pain creates stress and stress adds to the pain. Stress has physical ramifications by producing cortisol, amyloid plaque and inflammatory cytokines. If stress is lessened, the pain cycle can be interrupted. It is for this reason that holistic and natural approaches like meditation and mindfulness are suggested as part of the overall pain management plan.
Meditation has been studied in patients with painful fibromyalgia, cancer, hypertension, and psoriasis. It produces a neural chemical change in the brain that normalizes hormones, blood pressure, airflow and releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Mindfulness for chronic pain has been scientifically studied and reports that pain-related drug use decreased while activity levels and feelings of self-esteem increased.
Guided meditation is the easiest option for sufferers to try because the words combined with soothing background music, will move the focus away from the pain to flow towards the peace they long for.
The following three powerful practices combine mindfulness and meditation for ultimate stress and pain relief.
1. Full Body Scan Meditation
Mindfulness of the body unlocks hidden emotional and physical tension that can hide in the muscles causing physical pain. Begin by moving our awareness mindfully over every muscles of the body from head to foot, releasing stress and letting go completely. Once the body is in its natural state of relaxation, focus on calming the emotions with positive affirmations such as “I am peaceful”, “I am grateful” “I am safe”. We then begin to feel real peace flow through all the cells of our being.
2. Breath Meditation
This is a classic way to instantly change the way we feel by becoming aware of our breath. We take 23,000 breaths a day uninterrupted. Breathing is always there in the background. When we take the time to stop and focus on something that is always happening, for just a few minutes, we become grounded in the present moment. Why is this a good thing? We can’t ruminate over the past or feel anxious about the future when we are fully in the present noticing only our breathing. Stress is immediately lessened.
Start by focusing on where we are most in touch with the breath as it enters our body. The nose, chest or belly will be where we feel the breath the most. Thoughts will pop up and we will train ourselves to watch them as they float away without our attachment. Letting go of dramas and finding clarity in the here and the now is a healing exercise for pain sufferers.
3. Loving-Kindness (Metta) Meditation
This is a Buddhist practice that will increase empathy and instill a sense of belonging, purpose and connection to others. It allows us to bestow blessings on to someone we love, a neutral person, a difficult person and finally ourselves. The Buddha said, “No one is more deserving of our love and compassion than ourselves.” Think about it. We can be our own worst critics. This is a great way to shut down that inner negative, judgmental voice, as we learn to be kind, compassionate and patient with the pain and ourselves. Loving ourselves activates the body’s natural healing processes.
Meditation and mindfulness are the keys to liberation from suffering. It is possible to experience true peace by implementing a self-care regime that includes some form of meditation on a regular basis.
BIO: Kathryn Remati created the popular ‘Tranquil Spectrum’ meditation app to fill a need for peace anywhere, anytime for anyone. Kathryn is a San Francisco based, certified meditation instructor, world traveler, yoga enthusiast, and writer with a BA Psychology and an MA. She brings decades of meditating experience into her classes and workshops.