Here are a few things we teach our clients in our Chronic Pain Treatment Program that help them learn to start letting go of their pain and become them become mindful of their mind, body, and spirit.
- Take an active role in learning to live with your pain. Try to isolate the pain in your mind and focus on its origin. Create an object in your mind to diminish the pain. If your back pain burns with each breath you take, visualize placing ice on that part of your back. If your joints are sore, send healing breath to them. If your stomach is cramping, picture the cramps becoming looser, like a taut rubber band unwinding. There are many images you can use. Be creative!
- Focus on all that you are able to do, rather then dwelling on the things that you can no longer do. Make a gratitude list of all the good things in your life.
- Let go of your sense of being “different” and any fear you may have of other people criticizing you. Finding a support group can help diffuse your sense of being unique. After all, there are millions of people with conditions just like yours and worse.
- Do what you need to do to ease your pain (for example, taking a pillow into the movie theater with you) without worrying about what other people might think. Stand and walk around when sitting becomes uncomfortable.
- Seek and accept support from family, friends, therapists, and support groups. You don’t have to do this alone.
- Extend yourself to others on the days when you feel well enough. Often getting “out of yourself ” diminishes your suffering. The more you learn, the more able you will be to help someone else who is in pain with encouragement and information about your experience.
- Prioritize your life. Decide what’s important and what you want to do about it, and then do it.
Another aspect of seeking spirituality or oneness with self involves meditation and/or prayer. Many books have been written on the topic of meditation and how to practice it. Choose one that appeals to you and can help you learn how to meditate. Don’t get bogged down with the religious implications. Start with small steps. Maybe you cannot sit with your legs crossed in lotus position because it makes your back hurt. Instead, find a comfortable place to sit where your back is supported, or lie down (but try not to fall asleep) and go from there. The practice here is to learn how to still your mind and try to reconnect with your spirit. You can do this anywhere, really. It’s not about looking like a yogi, but rather finding a place inside you where you can make peace with your pain. Chanting, singing, and prayer may help as well, since they often tend to take the focus away from your pain and bring you to a serene place. Some people living in chronic pain find that the pain is lessened when they share with other individuals who have the same experiences that they do. Some people living in chronic pain find that the pain is lessened when they share with other individuals who have the same experiences that they do. Many hospitals and pain management treatment centers have support groups where people in chronic pain can come to share in a common and supportive environment. This particular format is part of what makes twelve-step programs so successful. There is a unique and therapeutic quality to sharing with another person who is familiar with and understands what you’ve been through. An example of this is the Pain in Recovery Support Group started as a component of Las Vegas Recovery Center’s Chronic Pain Recovery Program. The Pain in Recovery Support Group is a secondary, abstinence-based support group for people who suffer and live with chronic pain. The group is not a twelve-step fellowship, but members do attend a variety of twelve step fellowships for their primary recovery journey. The primary goal of the group is to provide a safe and nurturing environment so members can share freely without fear of judgment and learn to heal while staying on the road of recovery. Participants in the Pain in Recovery Support Group share their experiences about how they confront and manage their pain and help others to do the same. Another concept found in twelve-step programs is powerlessness. Once members in the program admit their powerlessness over alcohol/other drugs or food or sex or gambling or whatever obsession they are engaged in, they are free to begin the recovery process. This type of admission opens the door for surrender and acceptance. This same principle can work for addressing your chronic pain. You are powerless over your pain and the circumstances that created it; however, you are not helpless. Start by telling yourself, “For this moment I will accept my circumstances relating to pain, and I will seek to turn negatives into positives. I will stop fighting against my pain today.” There are solutions that can help you get back to some normalcy; you will need to find what works best for you. Remember, when resistance is decreased, pain decreases. This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP). photo credit: pamlau.com via photopin cc