Mindfulness suggests this…..how you see your chronic pain will have an impact on your visceral experience. If you can change how you see your pain, it could change your experience of the pain.
How you see your chronic pain may be ascertained by asking yourself the question: “What is your “reading” of the situation in your body?”. In other words, how do you understand “what” is happening and “why” it is happening.
A metaphor could help answer this question. For example, it is reported that many people who suffer from chronic pain see this condition similar to the experience of having a mechanical problem with your car. As a mechanic makes an adjustment to a part of the car, you could have an expectation that all you need is either a cut to a nerve pathway, a physical chiropractic adjustment to the body, or simply a medication that would make the pain go away. The research is showing that the efficacy of this approach is limited in terms of providing a long term solution.
Consider that the experience of pain in the body is much larger than a mechanical problem. The metaphor of a living organism offers a different perspective. Rather than being seen as a machine that can be fixed by a mechanical adjustment, a living organism metaphor suggests that we can look on the experience of pain as being more than a “body” problem. Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests, in his book “Full Catastrophe Living”, that pain is a “whole-systems” problem. In other words, to understand pain may require a larger perspective where one takes into account all parts of the organism including both body and mind.
For example, it is now understood that the experience of pain occurs as messages from the body are transmitted to the brain via the nervous system and these messages are registered and understood as pain. However, it is also understood that pain may be exacerbated by our reactions to this stimulus including our thoughts and emotions about the pain. It is now proven in the research that working with our thoughts and emotions about the experience of pain can modify and reduce the experience of pain.
How do you see your pain? Are you open to seeing the pain with a different perspective? Exploring one’s capacity for mindfulness provides a pathway for exploring and seeing for yourself what might work. You don’t have to take my word for it. Over the last 20 years, an increasing amount of research is showing that the practice of mindfulness can substantially alter one’s experience of pain.
Consider coming out to the workshop on Saturday, July 6 and explore this option with me. I look forward to meeting you!