Meditation for Pain Relief
Practical steps for transforming physical pain into spiritual growth.
Materials and Setup
Materials & Setup:
A comfortable place to practice meditation.
The Psychology Today article, Can Mindfulness Meditation Really Reduce Pain and Suffering?
It’s only natural to want to fight back against pain and illness in times such as these, but what if this struggle actually made your suffering worse? What if it was more effective to explore the sensations of pain and illness as they rose and fell in your body?
Body Scan Meditation
This is best carried out in quiet surroundings. The idea is to hold each region of the body in the mind’s eye, observe – or ‘feel’ – what you find, and then move on to the next area.
You will realise that your mind repeatedly wanders. It’s what mind’s do, so try not to criticise yourself. When it happens, simply bring your awareness back to the region of the body from where it wandered. Try not to judge what you find. Simply observe. Or perhaps smile inwardly to yourself.
Lie on the floor and allow your legs to gently fall away from each other. Place your hands loosely on your stomach. Close your eyes. Sink into the floor. Focus on the natural breath as it flows in and out of the body. Is it deep or shallow? Smooth or ‘ragged’? Spend a few minutes feeling the rhythm of the breath in as much detail as you can.
Does the breath ‘echo’ in the groin? The lower back? What do you find in these regions? Are they warm or cold? Do they ache? Is it sharp or tingly pain? Gently probe the edges, then move closer. Spend a couple of minutes exploring the rhythm of the breath. Do you notice that discomfort is more ‘fluid’ than you thought? Does it feel more distant and less ‘personal’ than you expected?
Move your awareness to the middle back and observe what you find for a minute… Then the upper back…
Observe the whole back as one for a few minutes… And the shoulders… The neck… The face… The arms… hands.
Move your awareness through your legs and ‘feel’ what you find. Do your hips ache? Is it sharp or dull? Gently probe the edges and move inwards. If it begins to feel too intense, gently broaden the focus of your awareness so that you hold the discomfort in a wider space. Does that make it less intense?
And finally, spend a couple of minutes observing the whole body breathing as one.
Gently open your eyes and soak in the world around you. Can you carry this flavour awareness with you as you continue with your day?
Credits: By Danny Penman, Ph.D. Originally published in Psychology Today, 2015. Used with permission.