What if you could feel empowered and strong while having chronic pain?
Although this might sound difficult to do, it’s entirely possible.
When I work with clients who suffer from severe chronic pain and injury, I notice how quickly my clients want to get away from intense sensations and focus on something else. Obviously, it’s a part of the human condition to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Freud figured this out a long time go.
Biologically, we are hardwired to do this. I’m sure you are familiar with the fight or flight response. Naturally we want to remove or distract ourselves from painful stimuli or situations. There are useful reasons for this.
What would happen if you placed your hand on a hot stove? Would you stand there with your hand on the stove? I hope not. That would be a different type of problem. You would pull your hand away immediately to avoid a burn.
Our instincts tell us to react to pain, because they are looking out for our immediate best interests. However, when you are facing chronic pain, you do not have the option of moving away from the stimulus that causes the discomfort. Chronic pain will just keep coming week-after-week, day-after-day, hour-after-hour.
My work as a body-centered therapist is to help my clients understand and unpack and sometimes rewire the way their mind and body interact.
If you are suffering from chronic pain and have tried all of sorts of remedies, medication, and treatments without relief, you’re left with one very powerful ally that is often overlooked. Yourself.
This is why I am a proponent for mindfulness practices as a powerful tool for overcoming persistent pain. In many cases, by identifying negative evaluations of pain and the avoidance of chronic pain signals in the body, you can then begin to develop a new way of interpreting these experiences that are less intense and more explorative. In fact, many people can even discover a root cause to their pain in the emotional memories stored in their body.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic and renowned Buddhist meditation teacher, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” He has suggested that by increasing your awareness of intense and painful regions of the body, you can cultivate a new relationship with physical pain and with your own mind and body. This relationship is cultivated by beginning to notice the regions that are free of pain and those that are hurting.
By dipping our toes in the water, we might notice an increased acceptance of pain just as it is. The idea is that by developing a new relationship to pain we accept that although pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional to some degree.