Mindfulness strategies are designed to support us in observing our experiences in a less reactive and more present way. One of the challenges with pain, both physical and emotional, is that when pain occurs it often triggers a cascade of additional negative reactions that become layered on top of the initial pain.
For example, you wake up with a headache, you feel the physical pain of the headache, you worry about how long the headache will last and you remember back to the last horrible headache you had and revisit that experience. You become disappointed remembering the activities you missed last time and start to think of the list of things you might miss out on today because of this headache. You may worry about the strength it will take to manage the pain and add the fear of what it may be like to the fear of what you are currently experiencing. The pain now has elements of past pains already experienced and future pains not yet experienced. These reactions to the pain exacerbate the pain. Observing the reaction we have to our pain can support us in reducing some of the added layers of pain we are experiencing.
Mindfulness is one way you can support yourself in managing physical pain. I would offer that with pain it can feel overwhelming to implement mindfulness strategies in the beginning. When you first bring your attention to an area of pain, the pain may heighten which may cause added stress. In encourage you to trust your intuition, if you are new to mindfulness, jumping right into the center of the pain may be too triggering. Instead, you can use one of these alternate methods:
1. Scan your body for an area that has no pain and hold your attention on that spot.
2. Move your attention to the outer edge of where the pain is and slowly begin to move your attention towards the area where the pain is centralized. Move slowly and only go as close to the pain as is comfortable for you.
Here are a couple of resources to support you with pain:
Body Scan Meditation for Chronic Pain Relief: Sleepy Santosha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J69ffbvR4-0
Audio Meditation – Comfort Your Pain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0JMtabUVvQ
Pain Relief Guided Meditation for easing aches, pain, headaches: Jason Stephenson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPr-NivN4Ts
Managing pain requires compassion and patience. Be gentle on yourself, what you need right now is understanding and support. Breaking the cycle of pain can be difficult, if you are overwhelmed by pain I encourage you to reach out for support.