Using mindfulness for pain recovery requires two skills: the ability to manage one’s thoughts and the ability to relax. Using both skills at the same time is called “mindfulness,” which means focusing on and letting go of one’s thoughts simultaneously. Research has shown that mindfulness can be a highly effective treatment for chronic pain. That’s why Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) includes it in many of our treatment plans. Furthermore, imaging studies show that mindfulness changes the brain patterns associated with pain, and these changes can actually alter the structure of the brain itself over time, meaning that long-term relief is sometimes an outcome. Mindfulness helps patients cope with a wide variety of pain types, from back, shoulder, and neck pain to migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and even the side effects of chemotherapy.
Mindfulness and Pain Can Go Hand in Hand
LVRC clients explore the sensations and thoughts associated with pain instead of fighting them, meaning mindfulness and pain can actually co-exist. Mindfulness teaches people to be curious about their pain rather than engaging in fearful thoughts that may be catastrophic in nature. While it may seem counterintuitive to thoughtfully examine pain, studies show that resisting pain, or even trying to ignore it, creates stress that intensifies aches and pains. Calmly accepting the pain in a state of mindfulness offers far more relief. Mindfulness techniques take practice, but once they are mastered, it is possible to be in a relatively calm place despite one’s pain. Simply asking questions like, “What do I notice about this pain?” or “What can I learn from the discomfort I’m feeling right now?”, is a way to practice mindfulness. Even if pain is not eased, more peace and equilibrium arise from this method than from resistance and struggle.
Mindfulness for Pain Recovery Includes Various Techniques
A wide variety of techniques can be used when approaching mindfulness and pain. While most people think of meditation when they hear the word mindfulness, meditation is not the only way to find a mindful state. Simple inquiry is a quick and easy way to detach from pain-producing thoughts. Instead of “Ouch, this pain is always here, it never lets up!” one might ask, “Is there anything new about this pain?” to bring on mindfulness. Another well-known mindfulness technique is called the “body scan.” In this technique, one simply stops and gradually notices every part of the body, from the crown of the head to the tips of the toes, paying close attention to any area that carries pain, stress, or discomfort.
Breathing calm into those parts of the body instead of bypassing them or fighting them, one might relax the stress in painful spots. Individuals can also use breathing itself as a way to find mindfulness. One can change breathing patterns or count the breaths taken to create mindfulness. Intentional breathing is an effective stress reliever in general. A side benefit for those using mindfulness as a pain reliever is a calmer demeanor in place of irritability and impatience; in addition, individuals may experience a better outlook on life, which can alleviate depression and anxiety. At Las Vegas Recovery Center, we help clients learn and manage mindful practices to help achieve pain recovery. For more information on mindfulness as a tool for pain recovery, please call us today.