Self- Help Sundays: Meditation

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Meditation and chronic pain almost seem to go hand in hand.  But who has time to spend their whole day mediating?  Not many but one study  has shown that even with as little as 20 minutes, the amount of pain that was reduced was significant over just three days.  While many studies have demonstrated that the relaxed state of mind created during meditation produces analgesic benefits that can alter an individual’s perception of pain, it was thought that these benefits were only available after extensive time and expertise in developing meditation.

There is a wide variety of meditations practices that one can do.  Some are more complexes dealing with images and mantras, while others are a bit more simple and focus just on being still and breathing.

According to an article with Spine-Health, it talks about three insights that Mindful Meditation and what it provides for those with chronic pain.

  1. Even little amount of time is beneficial to those with chronic pain, The study findings are important because they show that meditation is much easier to use for pain management than it was previously believed to be; just a very short, simple course of training is all that is required in order to achieve a significant effect. For many, self-administered training might be effective.
  2.  Mindful meditation produces lasting effects. One surprise finding from this study is that the participants who meditated had a less amount of pain even after the meditation, indicating that meditation produces a reduced perception of pain overall, not just during meditation. This is in contrast to one control group that was tested using distraction, which has some analgesic effect but only during the time of the distraction.
  3. Mindful meditation is more effective than distraction.During the study, the analgesic effects of meditation were also compared with relaxation techniques and distraction. While all 3 interventions lessened the participants’ pain, the meditation was more effective in producing an overall analgesic effect—not just in addressing the most intense pain sensations.

Mediation can help anyone that is dealing with chronic pain on a day-to-day.  Another article in mindful.org states:

“Meditation teaches patients how to react to the pain,” study author Fadel Zeidan said. “People are less inclined to have the ‘Ouch’ reaction, then they are able to control the emotional reaction to pain.” He explained that the meditator learns while sitting on the cushion that pain is fleeting and doesn’t deserve such a strong emotional reaction.  Brian  Steiner also speaks with Nomita Sonty, a psychologist at Columbia University, who uses similar techniques of visualization and relaxation to help patients control pain. She has seen tension abate remarkably, in minutes. Sonty says such practices reduce stress, thereby easing the nervous system-reaction that exacerbates pain.

Does meditation help with pain or gives you the feeling that the pain isn’t as strong as you feel it to be? In the same article, this was said:

Sarah Kehoe, an otherwise healthy 36-year-old woman, a former high school and college athlete, a yogi of 10 years, was falling apart. Sometime during the summer of 2011, Kehoe doesn’t know exactly when, a disc in her back herniated. After her surgery that September, pain seized hold of her again in the winter: the surgeon said the disc had re-herniated slightly. Neither he nor Kehoe wanted to do surgery again, leaving Kehoe to search for other pain management options.Kehoe found ultimate relief through meditation, which she now practices regularly. When she once stopped her practice for a few days, she found her absent pain returning in full force.

Whether believing in the pain or really feeling the pain, mediation has shown to help so many over time.  When I first started with the pain management doctor that I still see, we were required to take a 6 week class three times a week about medications, your body, and meditation.  I practiced meditation for those 6 weeks and about 6 more months.  I believe that my perception of pain lessened over the time of me practicing. In the beginning, I slept better and I felt better overall but I was I wasn’t sure if it was all in my head or it was truly how I felt. I believe that it is very much worth a try and everyone else may  have a different reaction. But you won’t know unless you try.  And the good thing about meditation, once you learn it, it can be done anywhere. Let me know in the comments below if you have tried it and what you did and did not lie about it.

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