Mindfulness and Pain: Just Say Ouch

What's the best way to manage pain?

Just say ouch.

That's a simplified description of the role of mindfulness in reducing the experience of pain. The secret isn't in focusing on the painful sensation itself. No, the power is in recognizing our tendency to say way more than ouch.

Here's the basic math: Suffering = Pain + Resistance. Can mindfulness reduce the sensation of pain? Not exactly, but it can markedly reduce the total suffering we experience by illuminating--and even eliminating--our resistance.

Pain is a warning. It informs and motivates us. If you're resting your hand on a hot stovetop, it's important to feel that pain in order to remove your hand quickly and avoid burns. We need the sensation of pain to protect our bodies from further injury.

Pain also teaches us new ways to move. If you are consistently hurting your back on the weekend, your pain is letting you know that 1) you need to rest and 2) you need to learn a healthier way to work or play.

Chronic pain is more difficult. It is hard to find any redeeming value in long-term pain. We've learned our lessons already, but it persists, and there's not much that can be done about it.

Mindfulness is extremely valuable in alleviating the experience of all kinds of pain but it is especially effective for those likely to hurt on a daily basis.

We feel pain. We say ouch--mentally or verbally. Then what happens? We get wrapped up in ways to resist the pain. We start a mental dialogue about how we're going to deal with it (medication, ice, heat, rest, acupuncture, massage, magnetic therapy, etc.). Then, we get caught in thoughts and emotions:

? Disappointment ("Now I can't go hiking.")

? Worry ("I hope it's nothing serious.")

? Fear ("What if it gets worse?")

? Anger ("Why is it hurting now? I already had surgery!")

? Depression ("What if I have to stop playing tennis?")

? Excitement ("I'm going into labor!")

Our resistance stirs up a lot more tension, resulting in a much more pronounced experience of the pain. Worrying about pain really does make it worse.

This is where mindfulness comes in. By paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that accompany pain, you can learn to separate these from the sensation. Once you've done that, you can actually eliminate the tension and see the pain for what it is--and no more.

By seeing the internal dialogue that comes with pain, you can learn to handle it skillfully and reduce your suffering.

The next time you feel pain, take a moment to focus on it. Watch your thoughts and emotions as they come up. Breathe. And go back to ouch.

Simple pain never felt so good.

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse in Portland, Oregon. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches eyes-wide-open ways to get calm, clear and creative. To subscribe to her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage, visit http://www.MassageYourMind.com

In The News:

The biofuel alternative to farm fires  The Financial Express

Magnetic Therapy: The Facts (and Some Myths)

Is magnet therapy regarded yet as a mainstream therapy? I... Read More

What Type of Arthritis Do You Have?

Arthritis dates back to prehistoric times and is seen all... Read More

Feng Shui for Your Health and Vitality

How many of us wake up in the morning feeling... Read More

Hypertension, An Alternative Approach

For many years high blood pressure has been defined based... Read More

Do-Sa-Do: Square Dancing and Mindfulness

When I was 12, one of my best friends was... Read More

Moles, Warts & Skin Tags Remedy

Are you worried about your moles, warts, and skin tags?... Read More

Why Do So Many People Seem To Have Allergies?

Allergies and asthma arise from loss of the body's natural... Read More

Demystifying Hands On Healing

While hands-on healing is probably the easiest of skills to... Read More

Using Herbs to Relieve Hemorrhoids ? Aloe Vera, Bilberry, Butchers Broom

To relieve hemorrhoids first look for ways to get your... Read More

Arthritis Pain: Why Visualizations May Be Able to Provide Relief

Over 100 different types of arthritis exist, but by far... Read More

Low Back Pain - Ayurvedic Management

Low back pain is one of the most common pain... Read More

Chronic Back Pain

Magnetic Advantage Newsletter FEATURED TOPIC... Read More

Classical Music Therapy

Music, more than entertainment, has played an instrumental role in... Read More

Nature, An ADHD Natural Treatment

My mother's warning; "You are going to rot your brain... Read More

Laxatives You Find In The Drugstore

A laxative is defined as,A substance that is used to... Read More

The Importance of Touch

Through the simple process of touch, Reflexology is so effective... Read More

Basic Reiki

This is a very simplified primer on basic Reiki. It's... Read More

All Natural Shampoo - 5 Tips

All Natural Shampoo - 5 Tips Here are 5 tips... Read More

Eating Junk Food -- The Hidden Price

You probably are very familiar with the benefits you get... Read More

Holistic Medicine

Holistic Medicine involves natural treatment options like holistic nutrition, herbology,... Read More

Plantar Warts Treatment - Is There A Natural Medication Which Gets Rid Of Plantar Warts?

Plantar Warts are growths which occur on the bottom of... Read More

Bling Therapy - Healing with Gemstones

From jeweled necklaces to ankle bracelets, and all the tops... Read More

Understanding Hypnosis

If you want to use hypnosis for therapeutic reasons, there... Read More

Using Asian Herbal Combinations for Treating Hemorrhoids

Asian HerbsI have found Chinese herb formulations quite effective in... Read More

Foam Pillows are Changing the way the World Sleeps

For countless people worldwide, getting a good night's sleep on... Read More