Pain is a fact of life, especially as we age. If it isn’t cranky knees, hips, or a bad back, it might be an abscessed tooth, a kidney stone, or arthritis that shows up to steal our joy. Medicine is what many seek when confronted by pain. But, there are ways we can manage our pain without taking pills especially if alternative treatments such as massage therapy or acupuncture aren't viable options.
Studies show mindfulness meditation can help alleviate the hurt. Remember, pain is not to be ignored. The adage ‘no pain no gain’ isn't wise when agony has got the best of you. If you are in pain, it is important you visit your doctor first. If you don't want to take pills, and have tried natural remedies and treatments to no avail, the following meditation is for you.
Try to get as comfortable as you can considering the state of discomfort you may be in. Adjust the position of your body as often as needed throughout this meditation. Don’t feel like you need to sit still in lotus pose, especially if your knees won’t have it. Use your breath to release any anxiety you may be holding around your pain. Understand your pain is a real, yet temporary part of your life.
To begin, bring your attention to the place or places in your body that hurt. In your mind’s eye, imagine the source of your pain tracking through nerve fibers, to the spinal cord and then to the brain where the pain is processed into sensations, thoughts, and emotions. While you may feel pain in your big toe, you are actually receiving the sensory input in your brain. I am not saying your pain is all in your head, I am simply stating the body’s method of perceiving pain. Knowing this is helpful in making friends rather than enemies with your pain. Once you realize the sensation of pain is processed in your brain, it makes it easier to manage.
Now, get to know your pain a little better. Where does it come from? What is it teaching you? How does it affect your mood and attitude? Understanding your pain gives it an invitation to soften the grip it has on your wellbeing. Give your aches the space to simply be. Develop an awareness of the sensations you feel, without labeling them as good or bad.
As you adjust to your new relationship with pain, may you soon return to a joyful existence, even alongside life’s unavoidable discomforts.