Scientists have been studying Zen monks to learn how meditation helps them cope with both chronic and occasional pain. While some of their accomplishments depend on their faith, many of their techniques can be used by anyone. Whether or not you already have a meditation practice, the suggestions below can help you get relief from pain.
TOOLS FOR MEDITATION
1.Appreciate the mind-body connection.There’s a growing understanding that our health depends on a wide range of factors. Our mind and body interact closely. This is a psychosomatic connection. The pain we experience due to physical conditions such as arthritis also affects us emotionally.
2.Reduce apprehension. Your reaction to pain can become exaggerated if you anticipate that it’s going to occur. Fear of pain is a good thing when it helps you avoid dangerous situations. It’s less helpful if you dwell on how your back will keep hurting. Mindfulness meditation helps you live in the present moment and take a break from worries about the future.
3.Manage anxiety.Studies show that experienced meditators feel pain but experience less emotional impact. Even beginners can use meditation as a useful distraction. With practice, you can become more skilled at noticing the affected body part but declining to get upset about it. You may be able to notice the sensation of pain without judging it as unpleasant.
4.Fight depression. Depression is known to make the pain worse. When meditation helps you to feel happier and more peaceful, it’s also giving you greater protection from all kinds of afflictions.
5.Loosen up. Many people feel some tension around an injured body part. If you’re nursing a stiff neck, you can focus on relaxing the area and opening it up. Imagine that your breath is flowing across the muscles, where it warms and heals them.
6.Engage the pain. Pain may command all of your attention when it becomes severe. In such cases, trying to resist it may just make things worse. Some patients find relief by taking an active role in rating the relative intensity of their symptoms or observing how they increase and decrease over time.
7.Get an early start.It’s a lot more challenging to learn to meditate when you’re in the middle of recovering from back surgery. By starting your practice in advance, you’ll be better prepared to cope with medical issues or the common aches that come with aging.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN MEDITATION
1.Understand the relevance of meditation breaks:You’ll probably spend most of your life away from the meditation cushion. By learning to access the states of mind you attain while meditating, you can take advantage of those benefits anytime you want.
2.Pay attention to your body & use pain as a cue.Even if you need to keep working when a headache hits, you can guide yourself with constructive reminders about how to deal with it. Use everyday discomforts to check in with yourself and see if anxiety and apprehension are building up.
3.Guard yourself against depression.Depression can strike anybody, but you can lower your risks. A healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can make it easier to stay on track. Depression is very common not just in adults but in children too. Your child sees how you feel and are quite astute at reading your body language. They tend to be in tune with their parent’s moods. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them too.
4.Reduce other sources of stress. This may be easier said than done. However, it is imperative to address stressors that are within your control.Living with chronic pain can take a heavy emotional toll. It does tend to affect people around you too. If possible, build a strong support network and avoid taking on too many obligations.
5.Consult with your doctor. If symptoms of pain continue, talk with your doctor about other available methods of treatment. Fortunately, meditation can be used to complement conventional approaches. It is not a cure in itself.
Anyone can get started with meditation. Meditation is affordable. A myriad of resources can be accessed through books, audiobooks, and even just searching online. Youtube alone has videos to guide you with meditation. It is an effective method for treating physical and emotional suffering without harmful side effects. As you continue to practice, your skills will improve You will then spend less time worrying about pain and more time enjoying life.
🙏A Simple Guide of Meditation for Beginners
Find a quiet area where you sit or lie down comfortably. There are meditation cushions that you can buy. I just use a cozy body pillow I already have. If lying down, rest your hands on your sides and visualize that they are heavy but relaxed.
Closing your eyes allows you to focus and feel as visual feedback that can distract you from seeing your surroundings limit your other senses to focus and feel.
Make your breathing effortless. simply breathe naturally, in through your nose and out through your mouth in a very relaxed manner.
With eyes closed, focus on your breath: on how the upper body, torso, and chest rises and falls as you breathe slowly, in, and out. Inhale…… Exhale…..
Feel and sense your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Focus your attention on your breathing without controlling its pace or intensity. Just let it flow. Your body limp and relaxed. Do not allow your mind to wander;
It helps to visualize being in a place that is most relaxing and calming for you. As a tip, I search and look at a specific image of nature that I like. I search this online. Then I visualize myself in the midst of that serene place. Below is an example of an image where I visualize myself in its midst.
Practice this meditation for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods. I seem to have a better and deeper trance when I also listen to meditation music. Try this and it is truly amazing the tranquility you will feel when you allow your body and mind to be free and calm for a few minutes.
Hope this helps!
👉👉👉The Power of Deep Breathing & What You Should Know
Any Questions? Any thoughts you may have about these topics, do get in touch!
About four out of five Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It can take many forms. Lower back pain, however, is the most common. Fortunately, there are many simple lifestyle changes you can make to avoid an aching back.
Daytime Lifestyle Changes
1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight strains your back and disrupts your balance. Abdominal fat is especially problematic. Your midsection will usually slim down along with the rest of your body when you lose excess pounds.
2. Exercise regularly. Yoga is a great way to improve your posture and flexibility. It can also strengthen your muscles. Physical activity can help fight inflammation by increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to your spine.
3. Eat more calcium. Strong bones help protect you from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a leading cause of back pain, especially for women. Eat your yogurt and leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale.
4. Follow safety guidelines at work. Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injuries. Talk with your employer about job design features that will keep you productive and safe.
5. Practice good posture. Make it a habit to press your lower abdomen against your spine. Keep your shoulders held back and relaxed. Hold your head up.
6. Sit correctly. Try to use an adjustable chair that will give you all the support you need. Prop a pillow against your lower back if needed. Keep your knees a little higher than your hips. Change positions or take a brief walk frequently.
7. Lift safely. Bend down at the knees and lift with your legs to avoid putting the whole load on your back. Carry heavy objects close to your body. Get help if an object is too heavy for you to lift alone.
8. Dress comfortably. Stiletto heels and heavy handbags can cause knee and back pain. So can overstuffing your pockets or wearing anything two sizes too small. Enjoy dressing up for special occasions but ensure your everyday wardrobe allows a full range of movement and your tote bag stays under 10 percent of your body weight.
Nighttime Lifestyle Changes
1. Select the right mattress for you. A moderately firm mattress usually works best. It adapts to the natural curves of your spine. If you have a firm mattress, an inch or two of padding on top may help.
2. Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your side with your knees slightly bent helps protect your back. Even better, put a small pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.
3. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back is also good. Place a small pillow under your knees to maintain the curve in your lower back.
4. Stop sleeping on your stomach. Lying on your stomach puts extra stress on your back. To break the habit, lie on your side and use pillows between your knees. This aligns your spine better. It relieves loading on your spine and supports your spine.
5. Avoid alcohol. You may fall asleep faster by drinking alcohol. However, it impairs the quality of your sleep. You are likely to wake up with aches and pains. Some prescription medications may also interfere with sleep.
6. Apply heat. A heat pack is an easy and safe way to keep a little ache from growing into a big one. Get a hot water bottle or a heat pack that you can microwave. This can be applied to any sore spot . I do want to note that microwaveable heat pads do not retain heat long enough. You may end up going back to heat it up over and over. A commercial plug-in heat pad like this one is available on Amazon.
I refer my patients to Amazon, Walgreens, Target, or Walmart to get one. It is preferable to have one an automatic shut-off to ensure safety.
(I am not an affiliate of Amazon or the seller and do not receive compensation for this feature in my article.)
It is imperative to see a doctor if you feel any numbness or tingling. This is more so, if you experience severe or chronic pain. These self-help techniques will give you effective relief and keep the pain from recurring.
Headache is a pain that arises from the head or upper cervical region. It generates from structures that include the skull or the cerebrum. The brain itself has no nerves that perceive the sensation of pain.
Bones are covered with a thin layer of tissue (periosteum), while muscles surround the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears. Meninges arteries, veins, and nerves can get inflamed and cause a headache. The pain could be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, intermittent, mild, or intense.
Headache or head pain can be hard to detect. Primary symptoms are squeezing steady, constant, unrelenting, or intermittent pain. The area involved can be in one section of the face or skull or can include the entire head. The typical region for pain in the body is the head.
A headache is an indicator of physical stress and emotional distress. It is also the result of specific medical disorders, including migraine, anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure.
There exist more severe causes of headaches, such as tumors and strokes. Both are relatively rare and are not primary indicators. Discussed herein are the origins of the more classic headache types regularly experienced by sufferers.
Headache can directly cause other problems as well. It can be disabling. Statistics show that it is a common factor in work productivity. Sufferers commonly miss workdays and decrease work performance during work hours. Headaches are the third leading cause of missed school days.
People who suffer from a chronic migraine headache are unable to participate regularly with tasks of daily living. Whether from school or work, missed days and absence is prevalent. Depression can also result due to isolation and inability to participate in social activities.
Headache can be debilitating. What I tackled in this book are alternative strategies to cope with headaches, no matter what the type. As a physical therapist, I also discussed how correcting posture can make a difference in the relaxation of the muscles of the neck, thereby decreasing the tension to the head.
A new phenomenon since the onset of the digital age: Text neck syndrome, and computer screen syndrome. The forward neck of the head forces muscles at the back of the neck to be in constant tension. The head weighs anywhere from 11 lbs. or more, the neck and upper back musculature is not designed to be loaded with this head weight for prolonged periods of time.
Working with patients, I learned a lot. Patients are resilient and the ones who overcome disabilities and impairments are the ones who persist and persevere with the prescribed home exercise program at home.
Little victories of being able to walk without a cane or walker after surgery, someone going back to playing golf, someone able to drive again, is celebrated. Quality of Life. When it is gained, it makes me fulfilled as a clinician.
I felt compelled to share a simple guide about this affliction that plagues many individuals: most of whom, are still in their productive years.
My most recent patient 57-year-old Kathryn (not her real name), was diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia since she was 25 years old. She is deaf. She lip reads however and is also obese. She lives alone and has a baby dog weighing over a hundred pounds that she had to walk daily.
She complains she aches all over after walking her dog, but she still does it daily. When I first saw her for an evaluation, I just really thought she hated me on sight.
She complained about everything: how she had physical therapy before many times and it never helped. She added that she had been reading on the internet about fibromyalgia and that she knows that there is no cure for it. She saw pain management doctors and the shots she received did not help her either, as she stated. “Nothing worked, NOTHING will work, and you can’t help me either!”
There was only one question I asked her: “Have you ever tried letting KATHRYN, help …. KATHRYN?
This lady did a turnaround and took charge. First, we corrected her posture. I gave her exercises and instructions on how to correct her posture. We made it fun. She completed her physical therapy program just a few weeks ago. She made me so proud. What a difference she made in her life by working on changes herself.
Kathryn is not the only fibromyalgia patient that I had the privilege of working with. The ones who made a decision to make a change and stick with it were winners in my eyes.
The smallest of victories as being able to drive again,being able to carry a grandchild, or attend a son’s wedding? It meant the world to them.
Most of all, it means a lot to me.
Fibromyalgia is the 2nd major “rheumatic” disorder. Its prevalence is about 2 to 8% of the population. It has a woman and man ratio of 2:1. It resembles some chronic pain diseases. Fibromyalgia may affect individuals of any age, including children. Its prevalence is the same in different regions, cultures, and ethnic groups.
Fibromyalgia patients complain about chronic pain in their entire body. Fibromyalgia patients have a history of irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea,headaches,fatigue, and some gastrointestinal disorders including interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, etc.
It is a lifelong disorder that begins in adult age or young age manifested by pain. It is observed in different areas of the body.
Studies have found that there is about 50 percent of the risk of developing fibromyalgia due to genetic reasons and the remaining 50% risks are due to environmental causes. Environmental factors may initiate fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia or similar disorders, like chronic fatigue, can be initiated by different kinds of infections (e.g., Lyme disease, EB virus, viral hepatitis, Q fever) and trauma. Psychological stress can initiate fibromyalgia too.
***The most efficient way to approach fibromyalgia is to integrate pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments to engage the affected person to participate actively in this procedure. ***
There are various methods are developed to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia.
In chronic conditions, non-pharmacologic methods are used to reduce symptoms.
These methods enhance control over the condition. Studies have found that by regular exercise/yoga and following nutritional, behavioral, and physiological interventions, we can reduce the symptoms such as fatigue.
Some pharmacological therapies that address pain, depression, and sleep can manage the symptoms significantly. However, fibromyalgia patients are also advised to avoid short-acting drugs because it may lead to drug dependency.
5 STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO MANAGE FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS
Self-initiated activities: It includes management strategies. i.e distraction, prayer, planning, and exercising.
Professional treatments: It includes acupuncture, physiotherapy, group or psychotherapy, and ultrasound therapy.
Escape behaviors: Avoiding pain medication and alcohol.
Resignation: Reflecting hopelessness and lack of control.
Passivity: It includes ignoring pain, self-care methods and comparing current circumstances to others.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR FIBROMYALGIA
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that fibromyalgia affects approximately 2 percent of the adult population in the USA.
There is no complete cure for fibromyalgia: but we can reduce and manage the symptoms by natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and medication.
For patients with fibromyalgia, it is difficult to exercise regularly. But such a condition can be managed by gradual and persistent exercise.
By building strong muscles, pain and discomfort can be reduced. Before starting any type of exercise, the patient should consult the doctor or physical therapist.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling are very beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia. These help improve the health and the overall well-being of the body. It may also result in reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Neurological studies have found that a program of a 15-week exercise can lead to better brain functioning in people that are affected by fibromyalgia.
PHYSIOBALL EXERCISES FOR PAIN RELIEF THROUGH SELF STRETCHING
Although there are many exercises one can search for online, I will share a simplified routine that has worked great with my fibromyalgia patients. Why do I like to use a physioball? I want to keep it simple and easy to get started with. Especially so with fibromyalgia patients.
The ball provides good support to the heavy lower extremities and supports the back when laying down on the back (supine position).
A SIMPLE TIP: When lying down flat on the back, always keep knees bent, or place pillows for support under the knees. This takes the stress of the lower back. It is important to maintain the natural curve of the low back (lumbar lordosis).
More of this type of exercise is discussed in the book. With the chronic muscle pains from Fibromyalgia, it is important to maintain flexibility, decrease muscle tone for better tolerance to functional activities.
Scoliosis can develop from the degeneration of the lumbar spine caused by normal wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is also a common cause. It is also common in the elderly as the spine deteriorates from degenerative disc disease. This will also have developed since adolescence but was undetected. furthermore, most cases of scoliosis have no known cause,
A common problem due to degenerative changes in the spine and common in the adult population, I see this a lot in the clinical setting. Complaints from individuals including back pain, sciatica, and functional decline due to anxiety with functional activities from anticipating pain.
Here, I want to share Ms. Carol’s story about her personal journey with this condition. I admire her tenacity as she continues to take charge of her own wellness despite her physical problems. Carol L., has been a patient of mine for over a decade. She is very active in life. She volunteers at a local zoo engage in social and community service activities, joins exercise classes and continues to live her life to its fullest. As told to me, this is her story, verbatim. This is exactly how she wrote it.
“I am 74 years old, and I have been living with scoliosis for the last twenty years or so. A recent x-ray described my spine as follows; “Marked thoracolumbar scoliosis convexity to the left, some 74 degrees.” I’ve been told that I could have been in a wheelchair with this kind of curvature. Instead, I am active, healthy, and flexible.
But, I’ve had to work – consistently – over the last 20 years to maintain my strength and flexibility.
Scoliosis is degenerative, so things change. Scoliosis itself doesn’t hurt – it’s the way it pulls the rest of the body (spine, pelvis, hips, shoulders) out of alignment, causing sore everything and often pinched nerves. It hurts to move, so you don’t! That’s the problem.
My first major episode was a pinched sciatic nerve in about 1995, and I thought I would never walk again. Doctors wanted to prescribe drugs and bed rest. I chose to see a chiropractor. The adjustments would not hold, and I was referred to a physical therapist. After about three physical therapists, I finally found someone who understood my problem and said – Ha! Your pelvis is out of alignment! Let’s work on core strength and stabilize the pelvis.
It’s essential to work on physical therapy, understand the problem, and continue to do the exercises. But, life happens, so you slack off your workouts, you get older, and your curve gets worse. So on and off, I’ve been back in real therapy-each time focusing a little differently on scoliosis, and of course, arthritis!
I have been fortunate to see the same physical therapist – someone who understands the problem and is not afraid to make me work! Staying active – moving – is critical. I’ve tried almost every medication in the market without much success – so I’ve not taken any medication for a long time.
The last episode had been complicated by moderately severe stenosis (according to my MRI), causing nerve pain, and I finally got a steroid injection. With that relief, and some new strengthening and stretching exercises from my physical therapist, I’ve been able to manage the pain reasonably well and achieve much better posture! Now, my focus is on maintaining strength AND flexibility, AND posture! I do a little routine in the morning to get ready for the day. You know when you are out of alignment – you hurt!
The June 2017 issue of Consumer reports says that growing research shows that a combination of ‘hands-on therapy’ (Yoga, Tai Chi, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic) is more effective than drugs or surgery. I do them all (well, almost all), and it works!
Am I pain-free?? No. Have I been pain-free for the last 20 years? No. But it’s manageable with the exercises, I can do pretty much anything I want to do – walk, climb stairs, stand for hours, volunteer, travel, etc. My therapist warns me I’m getting old and have to be more careful about breaking bones and causing serious injury – so I’m trying to take it a little easier – but not too much!”
– By Carol L. (written 5/31/2018)
It is always possible to make adjustments to inabilities, and one can still live a productive life despite physical challenges. I have so much admiration for this hardworking lady who grabs the bull by its horn and just so inspiring to know!
She was back again for PT this year, for back pain; not a lot of complaints this time, mostly concerned with her R hip and leg. As always, she always gets better and returns to usual activities. She still actively goes to the gym and does her usual volunteer work at the Brevard Zoo 2 days a week.
It was a great pleasure to see her again overcome her difficulties..