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Your Mind on Pain: Healing Through Mindfulness

Living in a state of constant physical pain due to illness or injury can be devastating and intolerable. The constant suffering becomes all-consuming and can bring forth the feeling of absolute despair and attachment to feeling this way forever. Lost in a sea of pain killers, constantly searching for help, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and the feeling of disconnection to self and others can become reality.

To someone dealing with chronic pain, the feeling of isolation and never-ending pain becomes all you know. The questions “Will I Ever Heal,” “Will I ever be able to move without pain again,” or “Will I ever live the life I used to” become the everyday mindset.

It’s a natural reaction for your mind to spin with doubt, fear, anxiety, and have an attachment to the pain caused by injury or illness. But what if the activity in your mind on pain was making your suffering more intense? What if, in the moments of most intense pain, you consciously explored the sensation of your breath moving through the pain to bring an awareness of space and acceptance of the pain within?

This may seem counter-intuitive to someone experiencing chronic pain. However, recent research demonstrates that engaging in mindfulness techniques to overcome chronic pain may be more effective than the heaviest prescription pain medication. Learning meditation techniques and introducing mindfulness regarding the body-mind response to pain is proving to be quite effective.

Dr. Danny Penman, author of You are Not Your Pain , states in Psychology Today, “Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent.  Accomplished meditators can reduce it by over 90 percent.” The practice of meditation and mindful exercises that connect the body, mind, and breath can support the brain to soften its attachment to the pain, and therefore with time, one can redirect the pattern in the brain so the individual can lessen the degree of pain, and eventually live pain-free.

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