Can Meditation Reduce My Chronic Pain? (Or is mindfulness just a bunch of hooey for pain relief?)
“Chronic pain is not all about the body, and it’s not all about the brain – it’s everything. Target everything. Take back your life.”
– Sean Mackey, MD, Ph.D. and his lecture “Pain and the Brain”.
If you suffer from pain of any kind, it’s likely you just want it out of your life. If your discomfort gets bad enough, you become willing to do just about anything to feel some relief.
The good news? Meditation can help you dial down pain, full stop. Just as Mackey said, you can take back your life!
How does meditation “work” to relieve pain?
Scientists continue to study the pain messaging pathways in the brain and how certain drugs and non-medical techniques act to bring about pain relief.
Though we still don’t fully understand how meditation functions to bring about pain relief (stimulating opioid receptors? The emergence of non-opioid pain relief pathways?), we know beyond a doubt that it DOES. And it does so without the negative side effects that come with pain medications.
Meditation certainly will not stitch an open wound or mend a broken bone–that’s what emergency rooms are for. But, meditation can help you re-wire your relationship to your body and the sensations you feel.
Meditation can help you consciously replace your thoughts of “I’m hurting” with a more pleasant array of images, affirmations, body trust, and acceptance–and by extension–less attachment to your pain sensations. Additionally, it helps reduce overall stress and tension and sending signals of safety to your body, leading to relaxing the resistance of the pain.
When you give your brain a task beyond focusing on what hurts, you can effectively distance yourself significantly from the pain sensations you may feel. You can calm your breathing (creating safety), emotionally support your body, relax your muscles, and elevate your mood with meditation, all of which help in pain management and reduction.
With practice and repetition, you can learn to commandeer the pain messaging pathways inside you to be less triggering and help you feel a greater degree of agency over your body and what it experiences.
The term “magic” comes to mind here…but not in the sense of trickery. With meditation, you learn to take charge of your thinking, which can have a positive and relieving effect on your physical sensations. Many meditation enthusiasts describe the results as “magic!”
The healing effects of meditation may begin during your first session, or they may take a while to notice. Seeing results from your practice DOES require commitment and consistency. There’s no real magic in either of those elements. When you do experience the positive effects, take time to be grateful for the benefits and your ability to have a role in your experience.
Your pain is real and so are your options for relief
Far from being a “miracle cure,” meditation will likely be a (cost-effective, convenient, and calming) piece in your pain-relief mosaic.
If pain occupies a majority of your mental and emotional bandwidth (dealing with it, anticipating it, living in fear of it, being exhausted by it), you can AND you get to assemble a robust list of tools and resources to help you deal. Meditation can be a go-to relief tool anytime you need it.
Meditation is handy because it doesn’t require a doctor’s visit or prescription–you can drop into your meditative practice if you have 60 seconds or unlimited hours of free time. A simple minute of intentional deep breathing can have a positive shift for you. You can learn several ways to help down-regulate your symptoms easily with just a little guidance.
Discover fewer pain days with meditation and healing hypnotherapy
There’s no reason to spend another minute in agony. That’s why Les and I are thrilled to bring you our Healing Hypnotherapy Workshop on September 9th. Grab your spot HERE and begin to explore and rewire your relationship to pain.
We will guide you in the proven practices that can make a difference in how you feel each day, week, and year–for the better. We help you learn to see your pain as a messenger, not an enemy (even though it FEELS that way when you’re hurting.)
PS: I hope you’ll join us to begin experiencing relief in our Healing Hypnotherapy Workshop on September 9th. Here’s the link--we can wait to welcome you to more relief and less discomfort–all inside your miracle mind.
–Sara and Les
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About your host
Sara and Les Raymond founded The Mindful Movement in August of 2016. They are passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. They have both experienced profound growth and fulfillment in living a mindful lifestyle. Together they help others live a more mindful life, deepening their awareness and sense of gratitude. They strive to inspire others to live authentically with love and abundance.
4-Day Meditation Journey with
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“The past is gone, the future is not yet here. If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.
Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.