“Mindfulness” for Pain Management? YES!

What I’m about to write may read counter-intuitive, but if you can master the technique, you’ll have an awesome tool in your pocket going forward.

Now obviously this is assuming that the chronic or acute pain one is experiencing is of a caliber that is able to be worked with, because clearly there is some pain that you are going to want to wash away with medicine immediately. However, whereas denying physical pain may actually provide momentary respite when you are able to move your focus onto something else, like an anchor, briefly, as soon as your focus loosens its grip, the pain will begin shouting at you again.

So what do you want to do with your focus to make it all go away? To make it better? You want to run headlong into the pain. You want to go forward, not backward. Run to the nerves, not away from the them. Look at them. I mean it; look at them.

Close your eyes and go for a moment to the location of the pain with your mind’s eye. This is a serious mindfulness practice. As serious as it gets. But master it and like I said, you’ll have a valuable tool at your disposal, because this works for more than pain management, and I’ll be happy to explore the possibilities with you if you find yourself able to effectively apply this tool.

Go to the pain with your mind’s eye. Just look at it. Find it by letting yourself feel it and use just use your normal senses to guide your inner vision to the spot. You can practice with easier sensations first if my words aren’t clear enough for you yet. Gently stroke your arm with a finger. With closed eyes, can you hone in on the feeling and see a corresponding image? Try chomping your teeth together a few times. Can you hone in on the sound and feeling the gentle percussion? Same.

Go to the pain. See it. Don’t do anything else. Don’t attempt to interfere with it in any way. Just see it. What do the nerves look like? What does the general area look like? What color is the pain, and the general area? Don’t paint pictures for yourself, or try to imagine. Just see. If you’re not visual, maybe you can smell? Hear? Or just viscerally feel and be with that knowing at a level that’s hard to write about.

In any event, while you are facing the pain in this manner, you should notice quite naturally a lessening of the pain immediately as you wade amidst it. One reason is because you are not separate from, it any longer, aloof and judging it from a distance. All feelings, physical and emotional, are more tangible when we are feeling them without actually being them. When we have not precisely divided ourselves into observer and subject, but unconsciously taken on this role. Pain becomes an experience of memory and habit.

Pain is real. A real physiological reaction with a real neurochemical response to a real physiological cause. You want to learn to be at the center of your personal neurophysiology and act as a conscious operator in there. Imagine! Standing at the center of your personal universe like that! Imagine if you were able to use your brain like a computer, you sitting at the keyboard and dictating the program. Imagine the possibilities!