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Time to Consider Mindfulness-Based Meditation for Chronic Pain Management
Many people are familiar with the idea of meditation, but they aren’t exactly sure why people do it or even how to do it. While meditation is something that has been around for thousands of years, researchers have been pointing to the fact that there are some health benefits to this age-old practice, including for those who suffer from chronic pain.
In the September 2015 issue of the journal Psychiatria Danubina, it is reported that those who suffer from chronic pain are more prone to becoming anxious and depressed. They also report that they studied whether or not mindfulness-based meditation could help those people who suffer from stress related disorders as they dealt with their chronic pain. Their group of participants engaged in mindfulness meditation three times per day, for an hour at a time, for a period of eight weeks. What they found is that there was a noticeable improvement in the depression, anxiety, and pain that people experienced (1).
This report comes not long after another study published in the April 2015 issue of the journal Pain Medicine, where the study found that there was a significant effect after using mindfulness meditation for chronic pain. Their participants had lower general anxiety and depression, better psychological well being, they felt more in control of the pain, and had a higher pain acceptance. Overall, the study concluded that mindfulness meditation contributes positively to chronic pain management (2).
Many people feel intimidated by the idea of mindfulness meditation, worrying that they are doing something wrong, but with practice you will become more comfortable. You also don’t have to start out with an hour at a time. Focus on just 10 minutes at a time and build on it as you become more comfortable with the practice. You can get started with by attending a class, watching online videos, or just going for it. Find a comfortable place to sit with your legs crossed and sitting upright, having your hands relaxed on your legs, close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing. Allow yourself to breath naturally, noticing the breaths come and go. Your mind will wander to thoughts, which is fine. Let them pass through you without judgment and return again to your in and out breath. It’s really just that simple, but over time it can have a big impact on chronic pain, as well as in other areas of our life.
Mindfulness-based meditation isn’t about getting yourself to not think. It’s about being in the present moment and noticing the thoughts for what they are, and then focusing once again on something as simple as comfortably breathing in and out. Making it a part of your chronic pain management tool kit is a good way to bring calm to your life, as well as help to reduce pain and stress.
1. Psychiatria Danubina. 2015 Sep;27 Suppl 1:209-11.
2. Pain Medine. 2015 Apr;16(4):641-52. doi: 10.1111/pme.12605. Epub 2014 Nov 7.