A mindful practice can be helpful when you’re experiencing physical pain or discomfort.
Physical pain can impact us psychologically. Our emotions intensify. We lose patience faster and more frequently. We can become angry or anxious. Often, participation in regular household or family activities causes pain or discomfort and so we do nothing, allowing a chasm for depression to wander in. It impacts not just us but the people around us.
For the past 3 days, I’ve been experiencing significant pain in my neck and shoulders. I have to admit I’ve been out of balance since it started.
Finally, I stopped resisting and sat down and really thought and FELT through what I was experiencing. I began to be mindful of the pain and how it was impacting me.
What I discovered is there are MINDFUL things we can do, as aware, conscious beings, to cope with our physical bodies and the pain we sometimes experience.
1. MINDFUL Thinking.
Over the past few days I’ve allowed some extreme thoughts related to this pain:
- There’s something really wrong. What if this is serious, permanent damage?
- I’m not able to control this pain.
- I need to avoid all activity, do NOTHING, until this goes away.
Energy flows where attention goes. I noticed my emotions heighten as I allowed myself to give life to those thoughts. Simultaneously, my pain level increased.
BUT, when I took notice of my thoughts, chose to perceive things differently, the opposite occurred. My emotions calmed and my pain level subsided.
Positive thinking is about retraining your subconscious. It involves approaching desires from an optimistic viewpoint.
- The pain that I’m experiencing is temporary. There are remedies to provide me some relief.
- I am so grateful that I have the means to seek alternative and traditional care.
- There are things I can do and enjoy, like walking, music and being with people, even while experiencing this pain.
2. MINDFUL Grounding.
The process of physically connecting your body with the Earth’s surface is called earthing, or grounding. Many scientific studies, including this one in the US National Library of Medicine by the Journal of Inflammation, confirm positive health effects from this practice include reduction in pain and inflammation.
So, if you can, get outside. Bury your feet in the sand. Walk barefoot in the grass. Whatever you can do to connect with the Earth, do it.
3. MINDFUL Awareness.
Being mindful means putting your attention, your awareness on the present moment. The mental and physical health benefits of being present are numerous including stress reduction, improved concentration, and increased emotional intelligence. Mindfulness, as a practice, is found in many households, corporations and in some public school systems.
For pain management, being aware and centered in the present moment can give you a sense of control over your pain. It can remind you that it is only one aspect of your experience right now. It can help make the pain feel manageable, reducing stress.
There are lots of ways to practice mindful awareness and being present:
- Focused Breathing. Pay attention to your breath as it comes in and out of your body. Visualize it, feel it. Do this for at least 5 minutes in any position.
- Quiet your mind. If meditation feels daunting to you, that’s ok. Take a look at a previous post for some non-traditional ways to meditate.
- Listen to nature sounds on your headphones – a babbling brook, crashing waves, chirping songbirds.
- Observe your environment. Describe in detail what you see. Put your attention on what the carpet feels like under your feet, what the fresh mulch in your yard smells like.
- Clench and release your fists focusing on your hands and their movements.
4. MINDFUL Eating.
Oftentimes when we are in pain, we take on a defeatist or catastrophic attitude. We isolate the pain and focus solely on caring for that, forgetting the rest of our physical and energetic bodies.
Eating healthy is not going to resolve my neck pain today anyway, so I deserve the comfort that this sugary sweet strawberry shortcake for breakfast will bring me, right?
WRONG. Here’s why you should care. Recent data suggests that certain foods may increase the release of neurotransmitters that heighten pain sensitivity. Other foods are linked to sleep problems, digestion issues, and muscle irritation. All of which can contribute to increased pain.
The healthier your body, the more it can support your healing process. Everything positive you do will reap positive benefits in the area that most needs it. Again, energy flows where attention goes. If you focus on creating a complete, healthy you, that’s exactly what you’ll do.
5. MINDFUL Moments.
We live in a world where multitasking is not just easy but expected. We drown ourselves in taskers and activities, often times not giving those tasks the attention they deserve. Depending on your personality type, this can be a source of significant stress. Increased stress can increase pain and reduce your body’s natural ability to heal.
Practice some of these mindful moments – just one at a time 🙂
- Tai Chi or Yoga. Exercise brings endorphin release, your body’s natural pain reliever. These forms of exercise also create relaxation, flexibility and mindfulness. You should always consult with your physician before adding anything into your regime and treatment plan, but ask about participation in these kinds of mindful activities!
- Silence – shhhhh…listen. The sound of silence. It can be a powerful tool. Silence can relieve stress, replenish you mentally and has even been linked to lowered blood pressure and brain cell generation.
- Engage with others – turn off the phone, the TV, the computer. Have conversation. Play a board game. The constancy of the connection we have to the outside world through technology is remarkable, but at the same time, it can dilute our connection with ourselves and with those around us.
6. MINDFUL Healing.
Alternative and traditional medicine both have their place in society. Nothing says you can only do one or the other. It is a personal choice. For me, I choose both. For this pain, I am seeing a physician and an energy healer. I am doing physical therapy and using essential oils. There are recommendations in both practices that I am choosing to participate in and some I don’t. Be mindful of what your body and your intuition tell you that you need. It knows best. Really tap in and ask yourself, “Is it in my highest and greatest good to have this surgery?”, “Will my body respond positively to a Reiki session?”. Then listen for the answer.
Some alternative medicine options:
- Energy healing such as Reiki, Pranic healing, and Shamanic healing
- Ayurvedic medicine
Sending healthy, mindful vibes to you all!