What Is Mindfulness Meditation and Can It Help Manage My Pain?

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Tama66/Pixabay

Have you seen these terms before?  Mindfulness?  Meditation?  Do you know what they mean?

I have seen these terms a few times in my research for finding natural remedies for pain.  In fact, in the last issue of Reader’s Digest, there is an article titled, New Help for Aching Backs, where they mention mindfulness meditation.  

But I really don’t know what that is and how to practice it.  So I did some research to answer these questions.

  • What is Mindfulness?
  • What is Meditation?
  • What is Mindfulness Meditation?
  • How Do I Do It?
  • Can It Help Me Manage My Pain?
  • Is It Used For Other Situations?

What Is Mindfulness?

My understanding is that this concept means we are completely present in the moment we are living.  This means we are aware of our current experience. We are not thinking about the past and all it’s regrets and mistakes.  Nor are we worrying or projecting about the future and it’s concerns.

How many of you, like me, do not live in the moment?  Just sitting down to research this article, I find my mind worrying about other tasks I have on my list for the day.  That’s not being present. I also found myself thinking about past mistakes today while getting dressed. That’s not being present either.

So to be present and mindful, we are to discipline our mind for the experience we are in and focus on it alone.  One speaker defined it as paying attention in a systematic way. This is a moment where we are able to create (as I am doing right now), or have compassion for another, or enjoy a meal. (You get the idea!)

The Chinese character for mindfulness is a combination of “presence” and “heart”.  Hmm, so presence of heart. What does that mean to you?

As I studied this, I was reminded of two passages of scripture in the Bible that are applicable here.  

Philippines 6:8 says, “ Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things”.

Philippines 3: 13b says, “… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead”

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
johnhain/Pixabay

What Is Meditation?

Not surprising to me, and according to Wikipedia, meditation is hard to define.  The simplest and most applicable definition I found was taking a few minutes a day (to start) to sit quietly, focusing on breathing and no other thoughts.  

Ideally, you practice concentrating on your breathing, and therefore live in that moment.  By practicing this concentration, you are training the mind to be aware of what is actually going on around you and within you at that very moment.

It is a practice of training the mind to focus on that one thought.  It is usually breathing, because concentrating on breathing does help us to relax. 

So What Is Mindfulness Meditation

I have found these terms used interchangeably, that is, when I seek to define mindfulness, I find an explanation of meditation.  But for clarity sake, I will attempt to write what I understand mindfulness meditation to be.  

  1. Experiencing the present by focusing on where you are, what you are doing, how you are feeling.
  2. Training your mind to focus.
  3. Sitting in a quiet, comfortable spot to focus on one thing.

Several articles stated that your mind will wander.  It is the natural state of our being because we are thinking creatures.  When you realize your mind is wandering, draw it back to your focus.  

These articles also, over and over, talk about being gentle to yourself when you realize you wandered.  Don’t judge yourself. What this means to me is to not berate myself because my mind wandered. Maybe take a deep breath and start again.

Focused breathing seems to be the most popular way to meditate, as we have to breathe anyway and it helps us to focus on one topic.

How Do I Do Mindfulness Meditation?

See above section.  But also;

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably.  You don’t have to sit cross legged, as we see in so many images of meditation.  But you should be sure your butt is not lower than your legs. Your pelvis/buttock should be level with your hips.  Otherwise you are putting pressure on your lower back, which can lead to pain. For people in pain this is obviously not what you want.
  • Schedule this time when you can be fairly assured of no interruptions.  Worrying about interruptions or what the kids are doing will only distract you from the meditation.
  • Make a goal that is realistic for your first time.  Five minutes is fine! Over time, according to my research, some people meditate for an hour!
  • You can close your eyes or find one spot/object/place to focus on.  This helps your mind to attend to the now.
  • Focus on your breathing.  You don’t have to change it, just notice it.  And it alone.  
  • If your mind wanders (and it does) come back to focusing on breathing.  

You did it!

Can It Help Me Manage My Pain?

The science is still out on the efficacy of this practice.  Here’s a quote from the National Institute of Health (USA) that says, “…small positive effects for pain, and the most recent review on various pain conditions which found improvements in pain, pain acceptance, quality of life, and functional status. Authors of these reviews echoed concerns that there is limited evidence for efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for patients with chronic pain because of methodological issues.”  If you want to read the whole article, click here to find it.

Even though there isn’t scientific proof, there are some people that have experienced pain relief through this practice.  I’m of the opinion that it’s worth a try, because you can do it without any side effects from medication, plus it is free. 

Here’s a video that is an example of how to do it.  There are several out there. Go and check it out after you watch this one.



I read about a program that teaches this in a book/CD/Kindle format.  It is You Are Not Your Pain Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress, and Restore Well-Being—An Eight-Week Program.  The authors are both chronic pain sufferers.  You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.  (At this time I do not have an affiliate account, so I do not receive any remuneration for this recommendation.)  Read the reviews though. Apparently the Kindle format doesn’t have the CD. It’s $12.00 for the paperback.

I also reviewed a book about alternative therapies for chronic pain.  See this article about the book Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain.

Is It Used for Other Situations?

In the various articles I read, this practice is recommended for anxiety, depression, stress, headaches, and fibromyalgia.  I know personally that having chronic pain can leave you feeling anxious and/or depressed.  

So, even if there isn’t much science to back this up, wouldn’t it be helpful to spend some time focusing on some quiet mindfulness to redirect your thoughts and feelings?

Read moreWhat Is Mindfulness Meditation and Can It Help Manage My Pain?

Is There a Best Natural Pain Reliever?

Best Natural Pain Remedy
Best Natural Pain Remedy
Gyorgy Bakos

Let’s step back and consider all the remedies and pain relievers I have talked about on this website. Is there a Best Natural Pain Reliever?  What do you think?  I would love to know about what you have found to help you.  You would be helping me and others!

I’ve written articles about acupuncture, yoga, foods, meditation, and CBD oil.  I’ve mentioned chiropractic, essential oils, physical therapy and supplements.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there is much out there that doesn’t work, and a few things that do.  I’ve also come to the conclusion that different treatments work differently for different people.  Just like prescription medication.  One person may have a reaction to a side effect and another person may not.  Just today I was speaking with my acupuncturist, Dr. Terry Chang while I was getting treatment.  I asked if he treated people for anxiety.  He responded that he does.  But he was quick to point out that it worked for some people and not for others.  And I am sure it is difficult to quantify results.  The same can be said for other treatments.

Some Options to Consider

Move!

Harless Todd

You can view many of my previous posts for various options I have investigated.  As I research Natural Pain Remedies I search various articles regarding this topic.  Movement and exercise actually are promoted as natural choices to manage pain.  I have found yoga and stretches to be helpful for me.  An article on Easier.com in their lifestyle section mentions yoga, Pilates and hydrotherapy.  Click here to review it.  In addition, I found this great article that includes video clips of exercises that can relieve hip pain, from Medical News Today.  Check it out here.  Or here are some exercises to use for sore muscles from too much sitting or computer work, from The Indian Express.

Even a walk releases endorphins which are feel good hormones that can counteract the pain hormones.  If you haven’t done much walking or any type of exercise lately, start small and slowly.  You can build up to more as you get stronger and feel better.  I used to work out for 2.5 hours before I was hit by chronic pain.  Now I am thankful to be able to walk for 1/2 an hour.  And that took months to be able to do.

Laugh!

We all know laughter is good for our mental health.  Well, it’s good for our physical health also.  An article in Better Homes and Gardens gives 5 reasons why laughter is good for mental health.  But it mentions relief of pain as well.  Click here for article.  You might ask, well what have I got to laugh about?  I’m in pain!  That’s where YouTube comes in.  I frequently search it for funny videos.  While I’m not a big fan of people hurting themselves, there is some funny stuff out there.  I have been enjoying Steve Harvey on Family Feud.  Here’s my favorite clip. (The best part starts at 1:06)  If you don’t laugh at this, I’m sorry.

I’ve said before that it helps to have friends and family around that can make you laugh.  I’m very thankful I have a few of those people in my life.  You don’t need many, but a few close ones are golden who know your suffering and are willing to be there for you.

Alternative Therapy Treatments

Treatments that are available are becoming more and more popular, thankfully.  Acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage come to mind easily.  I have discussed acupuncture on one of my other posts.  I have experienced chiropractic but I am currently not using this treatment.  However, I know it works and highly recommend it.  (Probably a topic for another post.)  I have also experienced physical therapy and massage.  PT did not help me, but that is just me.  I imagine others are helped by it.  Massage was very helpful and enjoyable.  More research is needed for me to comment further on these topics.  But I strongly recommend you investigate these options.

Meditation and mindfulness are other options.  I discuss Meditation here.  I have not researched mindfulness enough to post about it yet.  But I see that many people have found relief from suffering using this practice.

My Experience

I have now suffered with chronic pain for over three years.  I am thankful the horror of waking up in the middle of the night unable to move without screaming pain is a dark memory.  But it took months of painful suffering to find the right combination of relief for me.  I was told by the traditional western medicine doctor to get a shot.  I told him I wanted to try physical therapy first.  In the meantime, I began my quest to find relief naturally.  I still believe there are other options out there I have yet to discover, so I will keep researching.

Conclusion

Wouldn’t you agree that we each need to seek out treatments until we find what works for us?  There are so many options, which is one reason I have created this website.  My research was motivated by my pain.  This website became an outgrowth of it.  I want it to be helpful to everyone.  It is my intention to discuss the different remedies from a fellow sufferer’s viewpoint.  I’m not promoting one over the other, although I know what has worked for me and what hasn’t.  But you will probably be different.

You do have to take responsibility for your health and pain relief though!  Get going today!  Who knows, you might feel better tomorrow.

Please leave comments.  I welcome them and believe they will be helpful to me in my search and for others in their journey.  Thanks.

When I recommend a website I receive no financial gain.  I just recommend what I have found to be helpful and hope it might help you.  If you see a product that I have a link for, and you purchase it, I do receive a small compensation for that.  Furthermore, if you purchase something from an ad featured on my website, I also receive some compensation.  Thank you in advance.

Can Meditation Help with Pain Control? Read More to Find Out.

 

Relaxing

 

This is a topic that has come up time and again in my research. I have avoided it because I know so little about it. I know it is time to buckle down and learn about it. Especially if it helps my pain management. And yours!  Can Meditation Help with Pain Control?

What is Meditation?

The dictionary defines meditation as the act of meditating.  Oh that’s helpful isn’t it?  Synonyms are: contemplation, thinking, musing prayer.  I like the example used that it is “cultivating the presence of God in meditation and prayer”.

Because I am a Christian, and I have been taught that meditation is from Eastern religion, I have avoided this topic. The eastern form of meditation calls for emptying the mind to gain oneness with the universe.  This is very antithetical to what the Bible calls me to do.  I am to meditate on God and seek to abide in Him.  So can I safely and honestly practice meditation to manage my pain?  How would that look?  And would it help my pain, or only focus my mind and soul on God?  Not that that is a bad thing!  Because it isn’t.  That is my chief aim in life; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That said, can I combine meditation with my Christian beliefs?

I think so.  And you can continue reading if you don’t practice Christianity.  Because the same principles apply in practicing meditation.

Before I move on, I see the term mindfulness associated with meditation.  Mindfulness is being aware of something.  I think of it as disciplining my mind to focus on a certain thought.  Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand.  Meditation is the tool, mindfulness is the path.

How Does Meditation Help to Relieve Pain?

When we experience pain, our body releases hormones that magnify the pain, called stress hormones.  Our mind focuses on the pain.  We tense our muscles.  Meditation can reverse that by releasing calming hormones.  The calmer state of mind not only stops the body from releasing stress hormones, but also starts the body to release endorphins, i.e. feel good hormones.  These hormones can be released other ways also.  Some practices that release endorphins which I have used were exercise, laughing, caring for someone else.  See my post here for more information.  This calms the body, relaxing the muscles and joints.  With that comes less pain.  So meditation packs a one two punch, lessening stress hormones, and releasing endorphins.  This is accomplished by refocusing the mind.

How Can You Practice Meditation to Relieve Your Pain?

There are many websites that walk you through the steps to meditate.   From my research I have gleaned the basics.  They are

  1. Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet place.  You don’t have to sit in the classic cross legged position that you see in so many images.  Get comfortable.  Quiet is vital as it sets the environment for peace and uninterrupted concentration.
  2. Close your eyes.  It may help to be in a darkened room, if at all possible.
  3. Concentrate on breathing.  Simply breath normally.  But notice the effects your breathing has on your body.
  4. Practice this for just two or three minutes.

Easy, right?  The results should be that you will find you are more relaxed.  As you grow comfortable with this practice, you should be able to increase the time spent.  As you increase the time, you should reap more benefits.  From my reading, the research says that the longer you practice meditation, the more benefits you gain.  I have found this to be true with the stretches that I do.  Some of these natural remedies take work and discipline and time.  But I can testify that they produce results.  And if I can avoid medication and surgery, then I am motivated to practice them.

I found two apps that were recommended on this website, Meditation: An Opioid Alternative.  The apps are: Back Doctor and Stop, Breathe and Think.  They are both free.  I haven’t tried them long enough to know how effective they are, but I plan to give them serious trials.

As a Christian, my focus while I practice mindfulness and relaxing through meditation, will be to meditate on a verse in the Bible, or on a characteristic of God.

Other Helpful Practices

Posture

Most of us tend to sit in a slouch position.  It is the natural way we sit.  But maintaining a straight spine position is helpful to relieving back and buttocks pain.  Challenge yourself to maintain good posture when you are walking, standing and especially sitting.  It does take practice.  And it is another example of mindfulness.

Heat and Cold Pack

I have discussed this before.  For temporary relief of pain you can try heat or cold.  The difference is that cold reduces inflammation and heat assists in blood flow.  The both act to deaden the pain.  You may want to try doing both; cold for a few minutes, nothing for a few minutes, heat for a few minutes.  Do not leave either one on for more than 20 minutes.  Use a towel to protect your skin from the cold or heat source.

Conclusions

I believe meditation is a valid alternative as a pain remedy.  If practiced on a regular basis, a person should find relief from their pain.  I welcome your comments and questions.  I am especially interested to know those of you who practice meditation and what your results are.  I am also open to suggestions and corrections, as I am not familiar enough with this practice to feel I the final authority.  I am not receiving any fees for recommending any links here.  If you do chose to click on an ad or a product, I do receive a small percentage should you chose to buy something.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I hope it is helpful and that in practicing meditation, you will find some relief from your pain.

For those of you who desire to practice Christian meditation, I recommend you start at this website.  I found this helpful and challenging and plan to add it to my daily Bible study.

And if you’ve read this far, I bet you are wondering what that picture has to do with meditation?  The original caption was 3 turtles relaxing on the beach in Hawaii.  I don’t know, but it seems to me those guys (or probably girls, exhausted from the journey to lay their eggs) look like they know how to chill.  I want that picture in my mind; how totally comfortable they are and in the beautiful sunset of God’s creation.

 

Pain in the Butt!

No, I’m not talking about that person you know that gives you grief and aggravation. I’m speaking about nerve pain in the buttocks. But I got your attention, didn’t I?

If you have read any of my other postings, you know that my pain is mostly in my right butt cheek. But the research I have done and the experiences I have had can be related to other pain. In fact, until recently I had pain in my neck as well. How about that? Pain in the butt and pain in the neck. You would certainly think I am talking about someone! My acupuncturist has cured me of the neck pain. I also think it helped to have retired. I was working a very stressful job, which required extensive computer time. If you have neck pain and work in a stressful job with lots of computer work, I would guess that combination could be a reason for your pain. If you can’t retire like I did, I hope you can get help from acupuncture and other remedies I have recommended on this website. My recommendations can work for any areas; back pain, buttocks pain, neck pain, and more.

Foam Rollers

Beside the recommendations I have made for some relief from your pain with natural remedies, you may also find some relief from using a foam roller. My understanding is by rolling the painful area on the roller, you are massaging the nerve, muscle or joint to loosen and relieve the pain. To be honest, this can hurt, as you are putting pressure on the painful area. I recommend a soft foam, not a stiff foam. I have a stiff one, but I think it is better that you start on a soft one. But you may have to try a few different ones until you find the best for yourself. To relieve my pain, I sat on the floor with the roller under my buttock. Then I rolled back and forth for a few times. At that time, the pain also radiated down to my calf, so I did the same action on my calf. It is generally recommended that you do the other side of your body as well, even if you don’t have pain in the opposite side.

View some YouTube videos to see different foam rollers. I picked a medium density one, because I think some pressure to the nerve helps, but you don’t want too much.  I welcome your comments and reviews regarding foam rollers. Your information would be helpful to all of us.

 

Foam Roller

Hot/Cold Therapy

Another helpful remedy is heat. A nice bean bag warmed in the microwave can supply relief to painful areas. Remember heat is for soothing joints and relaxing muscles. If you like bathes, a hot bath with Epsom salts added can provide some pain relief and help relax your whole body. Or you may need some cold/ice therapy. Cold can help to numb pain and lessen inflammation. Often inflammation accompanies pain. Sometimes you may need to alternate between cold and hot to find relief. Do not use either treatment for more than twenty minutes. Otherwise you can cause tissue damage to your skin.

How about a cushion?

And get moving! I know from experience that moving can be painful. All you want to do is sit. And even finding a comfortable position to sit is a challenge. I recommend pillows or a cushion. (I’m still working on recommending one.) But moving around is vital for someone with chronic pain. Change your positions frequently, get up from your desk, walk into the kitchen for a glass of water. Stretch. See my recommendations for stretches on my other posts. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of moving.

Mindfulness/Meditation

I do not have experience with this modality. I am still in the research phase. But from what I see, this practice may help you in pain relief. And so very natural! I do have experience with deep breathing though, and find that can help me relax. It also helps me sleep better. So I think this topic bears more research and attention.

Conclusion

This website is an ongoing process as I seek to relieve my own pain, and help each one of you in your pain struggles. Your comments are not only welcome, but may help someone else who suffers. Please help us help each other!

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