If you attend the mindfulness for chronic pain workshop this Saturday, you will be asked to “tune in” to your pain. This action may seem counterintuitive, as you may wonder how “tuning in” to something that you don’t want will help. For many of you, you will bring a strong wish to get rid of the pain and it will be challenging for you to see how “tuning in” can trump “tuning out”. “Tuning in” sets the stage for see and learning how to relate to the pain differently. In other words, we are going to explore different options for responding to the pain experience.
In order to do this, we make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is considered to be a natural part of life. We experience pain as a result of internal changes to the body like a ruptured appendix or a broken leg. The pain signals that something is wrong and it may need attention and action on our part. Suffering can be considered as one of many possible responses to the original pain and this is usually made up of the thoughts and emotions that are generated in response. For example, if you experience a headache and you frame the experience as evidence of a serious medical condition, there will be suffering. The suggestion is that the suffering is generated from the mind and it will exacerbate the initial pain experience.
The practice of mindfulness will stimulate the activation of learning about how our minds may contribute to the experience of pain. Through paying attention in a kind and compassionate way to our experience, a way can be found to relate to the pain which will often reduce the symptoms of pain, according to the research.