It is very hard for your brain to work anywhere near its potential when you are suffering from a lot of pain. 2 years ago, WebMD published an article that stated 100 million Americans suffered with chronic pain – not just the occasional headache or heartburn. Those suffering from chronic pain cost over $600 BILLION per year between doctor’s visits, treatments, and lost productivity. Which probably exacerbates the pain.
Pain as a result of an accident such as whiplash, or back pain, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis.
A call to action was made by an IOM group commissioned by Congress to find a way to manage pain better. There is a shortage of doctors specializing in pain, and general practitioners don’t seem to have enough understanding of the condition to be as helpful as their patients need.
Traditionally what is suggested are painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. This doesn’t deal effectively enough with the pain, however, and chronic pain often leads to depression and anti-social behavior.
Doctors do not seem to be at all aware of one of the best pain management techniques around – mindfulness meditation.
Danny Penman, one of the authors of a new book on mindfulness meditation (Mindfulness:Finding Peace in a Frantic World), describes the mechanism by which this type of meditation can be helpful to those who suffer from chronic pain.
First you need to understand that there are actually two levels of pain that work together. Primary Pain, or primary suffering, is the basic pain arising from the injury and changes that lie within the nervous system. Secondary pain consists of the feelings, thoughts, emotions and memories that you associate with the pain and this is the part that can amplify suffering far above the actual pain signals coming from your nervous system.
Mindfulness Meditation is helpful for this second layer by allowing it to separate from the other. Once it is watched by the “mind’s compassionate eye” the suffering can subside and even reduce to a level where it is barely observable to you. The thoughts of worry and catastrophe, the exhaustion that comes from stress and negative emotion can greatly intensify the feelings of pain.
Mindfulness meditation can make it manageable. People who spend just 4 sessions of 20-minutes each can notice a 40% reduction in their symptoms, while those practicing for 8 weeks can notice over 90% less pain. If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic pain, doesn’t it make sense to give this a try? It doesn’t cost a lot of money and the only side effects you may have are positive: less stress, more zest for life, and better cognitive function!
Read more about Danny’s insights on their blog, FranicWorld.com
Or pick up a copy of their book and read it for yourself!