Whether you’re suffering from arthritis or other pain-related diseases, pain meditation may help provide you with relief. Read on for nine techniques worth trying.
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In this article:
- What Is Pain Meditation?
- When Is the Best Time to Do Meditation for Pain Relief?
- Where Can You Perform Meditation?
- Why Should You Do Pain Meditation?
- How Do You Succeed in Pain Meditation?
Pain Meditation Techniques to Beat the Stress, Calm the Mind, and Improve Quality of Life
What Is Pain Meditation?
To understand the concept of pain meditation, it’s best to get to the bottom of the term “meditation.” What is it?
For a lot of people, it’s about focusing on breathing or clearing the mind. In reality, it is a general word for different techniques that train your awareness and attention.
In the process, meditation can help focus your mind, relieve your anxiety, and even ease your pain.
There are different kinds of meditation for pain relief that you can do. Here are nine of them:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is being aware of the moment or the present. It is about practicing attention and acknowledging thoughts without judgment.
In a remarkable study, the researchers found that mindfulness can impact the same brain area targeted by opioid drugs. It may deliver a similar effect without the risk of addiction or overdose.
You can also perform guided mindfulness meditation, where you listen to an expert and follow the instructions.
2. Body Scan Meditation
When a person is in pain, he/she tends to pay attention to the affected area. The purpose of body scan meditation is to redirect such thoughts away from it and instead think about the wholeness of the body.
A powerful pain meditation, body scan involves the following:
- “Scanning” the entire body from toe to head, noticing every difference or sensation felt
- Anchoring the body, which is usually to the bed, ground, or floor (which means you do this lying down)
- Releasing the tension
3. Guided Imagery
Also known as guided visualization, guided imagery is active daydreaming. You create serene, peaceful sceneries, which may be imaginary or real.
Usually, a person doing this type of meditation for pain relief relies on a recording. It can be their own, or an expert’s.
If you are still mobile, you may attend a class. There, an instructor can be present to guide you, and you can do this meditation with others.
One of the benefits of guided imagery is in managing arthritis. According to the National Arthritis Foundation, it helps relieve anxiety and perception of pain.
4. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is unique among the other types of meditation techniques for two reasons:
- It is a structured program that lasts for only eight weeks.
- It is one of the meditation techniques intended to manage patients with chronic pain and stress.
MBSR features many elements present in other methods. These include body awareness and scanning, yoga, and mindfulness.
The ultimate goal of the practice is to help the patient develop a healthier relationship between their minds and pain. Experts recommend it for people with chronic pain such as patients with cancer or inflammatory diseases.
5. Transcendental Meditation
Also called TM, this type of pain meditation is similar to MBSR as it is also structural. You cannot practice it without working with a teacher.
It is also mantra-based meditation for chronic pain. You will receive your “word” after you go through a series of lectures and interviews with the teacher, and you cannot share it with anyone.
TM shares similar aspects with meditation only that a person who practices it will eventually reach transcendence. In other words, the mind will achieve the highest level of pure awareness.
In the process, it can train your mind to be creative, and you become open to unlimited potential. That can then change the way you perceive your illness and your pain.
6. Zen Meditation
Another term for Zen meditation is Zazen, and this one follows the principles of Buddhism. This philosophy revolves around the Four Noble Truths that talk about the origin and the end of suffering.
In a 2009 Canadian study, those who practiced Zen meditation experienced 18% less pain intensity whether they were meditating or not than those who didn’t practice it.
7. Loving Kindness Meditation
Also called Metta Prayer, this type of pain meditation is about delivering positive thoughts, desires, and wishes on oneself. It can be helpful in:
- Uplifting your mood
- Showing gratitude to oneself
- Improving sense of compassion than self-pity
- Reducing self-criticism, thereby boosting self-confidence
8. Qigong Meditation
Qigong is an ancient Chinese martial art. Unlike kung fu, though, this one uses gentle, fluid movements that go along with controlled breathing and meditation.
A 2010 research revealed that practicing qigong can reduce the intensity of the pain within two weeks of doing it consistently. The benefits may also be sustainable.
9. Yoga Meditation
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice of uniting the spirit, mind, and body. When you combine it with meditation, it becomes an awareness of one’s movements and thoughts while doing the poses.
This exercise is low-impact, which makes it ideal for people with chronic pain, according to a Harvard University article. These conditions include arthritis, fibromyalgia, and low back pain.
What is fibromyalgia? It is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue, tenderness on pressure points, and pain.
When Is the Best Time to Do Meditation for Pain Relief?
In general, you can perform any of these pain meditation techniques anytime. Note, however, that:
- Some of these techniques may need training or professional guidance, such as transcendental meditation and MBSR.
- Exercises like qigong or yoga may be impossible when you’re immobile or in more severe pain.
- Other techniques, like a guided meditation for pain and body scan, may induce sleepiness. You may not be able to complete the exercise.
In the end, you can benefit greatly from pain meditation when you do it consistently. It may even be helpful to try as many of these as you can to find out which provides the greatest pain relief.
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Where Can You Perform Meditation?
Structured or guide-based meditation techniques may start off in a class setting. You may have to be in a studio, for example.
In most cases, you will learn to do the process yourself. You may now have flexibility in where you plan to do meditation.
It can be:
- In the comforts of your home or workplace
- In a healthcare facility like a hospital
- While traveling
Why Should You Do Pain Meditation?
What are the benefits of pain meditation? These include the following:
- It will help you become less dependent on drug therapy. It may complement your existing pain management program and supplements like Body Protective Complex.
- Meditation can teach you how to be more proactive in your healing process.
- It is something you can often do anywhere at any time (depending on the program).
- The effects may be long-lasting.
Meditation has a huge impact on managing stress, which can trigger depression and anxiety. These factors can possibly worsen your pain.
In a 2013 study in Brain, the researchers found a connection between chronic pain and cortisol, one of the hormones that the body secretes when you’re under stress.
It helps increase your glucose, blood pressure, and heart rate to keep you alert and focused. Persistent or chronic stress, though, may lead to an overproduction of cortisol.
This hormone is anti-inflammatory, but an excess of it can have an opposite effect. It can increase the risk of inflammation.
While stress can increase your perception of pain, chronic pain can also raise your stress levels. It puts you into a vicious cycle.
How Do You Succeed in Pain Meditation?
It’s rare for someone to get meditation right the first time, more so if they are under chronic pain and stress. You can improve your chance for success with these tips:
- Do it consistently. As a start, devote at least 10 minutes of your time each day to pain meditation.
- Meditate in a quiet environment.
- Find the most comfortable position.
- Start with guided meditation, especially if you have no experience with the practice.
- Allow your mind to wander but slowly bring it back to the present.
- Focus on an object, such as your breathing or a mantra.
- Take slow deep breaths.
- Close your eyes.
- Acknowledge your thoughts and pain, but do not judge them.
Practicing pain meditation isn’t about escaping from the illness. It’s about learning to deal with it, so you can achieve a better quality of life.
How does meditation improve your life? Share your thoughts about it in the comments section below!