Mindfulness and Pain: Just Say Ouch


What's the best way to manage pain?

Just say ouch.

That's a simplified description of the role of mindfulness in reducing the experience of pain. The secret isn't in focusing on the painful sensation itself. No, the power is in recognizing our tendency to say way more than ouch.

Here's the basic math: Suffering = Pain + Resistance. Can mindfulness reduce the sensation of pain? Not exactly, but it can markedly reduce the total suffering we experience by illuminating--and even eliminating--our resistance.

Pain is a warning. It informs and motivates us. If you're resting your hand on a hot stovetop, it's important to feel that pain in order to remove your hand quickly and avoid burns. We need the sensation of pain to protect our bodies from further injury.

Pain also teaches us new ways to move. If you are consistently hurting your back on the weekend, your pain is letting you know that 1) you need to rest and 2) you need to learn a healthier way to work or play.

Chronic pain is more difficult. It is hard to find any redeeming value in long-term pain. We've learned our lessons already, but it persists, and there's not much that can be done about it.

Mindfulness is extremely valuable in alleviating the experience of all kinds of pain but it is especially effective for those likely to hurt on a daily basis.

We feel pain. We say ouch--mentally or verbally. Then what happens? We get wrapped up in ways to resist the pain. We start a mental dialogue about how we're going to deal with it (medication, ice, heat, rest, acupuncture, massage, magnetic therapy, etc.). Then, we get caught in thoughts and emotions:

• Disappointment ("Now I can't go hiking.")

• Worry ("I hope it's nothing serious.")

• Fear ("What if it gets worse?")

• Anger ("Why is it hurting now? I already had surgery!")

• Depression ("What if I have to stop playing tennis?")

• Excitement ("I'm going into labor!")

Our resistance stirs up a lot more tension, resulting in a much more pronounced experience of the pain. Worrying about pain really does make it worse.

This is where mindfulness comes in. By paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that accompany pain, you can learn to separate these from the sensation. Once you've done that, you can actually eliminate the tension and see the pain for what it is--and no more.

By seeing the internal dialogue that comes with pain, you can learn to handle it skillfully and reduce your suffering.

The next time you feel pain, take a moment to focus on it. Watch your thoughts and emotions as they come up. Breathe. And go back to ouch.

Simple pain never felt so good.

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse in Portland, Oregon. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches eyes-wide-open ways to get calm, clear and creative.


More Resources

Hypnosis for Change
Change is what we want. Change is what we fear.
The Safety of Natural Therapies
Just because something is labeled or deemed "natural' does not mean it comes without risk! Anytime you introduce another substance into your body, whether it be by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption, there are inherent risks.If you suffer from ANY of the following conditions, PLEASE seek the advice of your doctor before using ANY natural remedy - whether it be aromatherapy oils and blends or herbal teas, tinctures, supplements, salves, etc.
Holistic Methods: Hemp Seed Oil and Aromatherapy in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Aromatherapy is a well known holistic method for healing, but when boosted by the quickly penetrating carrier hemp seed oil, the healing potential is magnified exponentially. No other carrier oil can take the beneficial medicinal qualities of aromatic essential oils as quickly through the epidermis as hemp seed oil, so if your lotions and salves are missing it, you're not doing your body justice, but it's not too late?.
What is Reiki, Benefits of Reiki, Healing Sessions, Herbs that Heal
In Japan, in the early 1920s, Mikao Usui developed Reiki-ho (Reiki method) as "the way to make mind and body healthy on the basis of Universal Reiki".* Reiki is the vibration of love and harmony of universal energy.
Hypnosis and the Treatment of the Agoraphobic Eleven
Agoraphobia: fear of the market place.?not, as many people imagine, a fear of open spaces.
Oops! One Size DOESNT Fit All
The Stop Smoking Hypnosis people.The ancient Greeks certainly had their share of eccentrics.
Alternative Health Treatments for People Who Give Too Much
Being a modern traveler, you probably get onto an airplane these days, find your seat, pull out a paperback and tune out those all-important instructions from the flight attendant about emergency procedures. Let me refresh your memory.
NMT: Trigger Point Therapy and What to Look for in a T Bar
Massage therapy is as ancient as noodles. People have been striving to reach a state of ultimate comfort and efficiency, while at the same time, cutting the work load.
Hypnosis: Benefits You Can't Live Without
Hypnosis In The Real WorldWhen you think of hypnosis, do you get the image of a Freud-like doctor swinging a pocket watch to and fro in front of someone in deep emotional trouble? If so, you are not alone. However, this Hollywood image of hypnosis is far from true!You don't have to be a nut to use hypnosis.
Taking Control of Your Health & Well-being
Taking Control of Your Health & Well-beingby Georgianna Donadio D.C.
Eucalyptus Oil for Colds and Flu
Recently I came down with a cold, flu, and some heavy chest congestion. My 8-year daughter also became sick.
Teas From Plants Around You and Their Benefits
All teas unless specified are brewed with 1 teaspoon dry material or 2 teaspoons fresh material to 1 cup of water. Always steep.
Powerbreathe, Lung Conditioner, and Breathing Exerciser
What is The Powerbreathe?POWERbreathe is the result of nearly a decade of research, and was designed by professional exercise scientists at Birmingham University and Loughborough University, UK. There are three models designed for specific uses: Wellness, Fitness and Sports Performance.
Sleep And Massage Therapy
Hands-On Therapy for Peaceful SleepOne alternative medicine approach is a perfect option for relaxing your tension and allowing you to sink into deep, restful sleep: massage therapy.If you are comfortable with someone touching your body, a therapeutic massage is a wonderful sleep aid.
Portrait of a Psychic / Intuitive
Many people ask me how I started doing this work.As a child, my earliest memory is being 3 years old and telling my mother things that I could not have possibly known.
Make Your Own HGH - While You Sleep!
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) has long been viewed as a remedy for aging and the diseases associated with the aging process. Research published in the AMA Journal of August 16, 2000 links sleep disorders to a lack of HGH.
The Power of Ganoderma in Oriental Medicine
Ganoderma, a rare variety of Mushroom credited with the highest medicinal qualities by the classic Chinese 'Seng Nong' is indeed a subject of much research from the ancient china of 100 B.C.
Freedom Is Found In Detachment
I am looking for freedom in my life. And I know the only way I can find it is through detachment.
ReFidolize: The Majic Missy Mix Includes Medicinal Mushrooms
Autoimmune disorders, lupus, Sjogrens, MS, IBS, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia / cancer, and many autoimmune diseases, may have a bacterial or fungal related etiology. Ask the so-called medical specialists.
Storing, Handling And Using Essential Oils
Pure Essential Oils are a natural product and contain no preservatives or additives. A few of them can also be quite dangerous if not handled correctly.

More Alternative Information:

Related Articles

Why is Prevention So Important?
One of the least known and least practiced aspects of medicine is prevention. If you look at a list of medical specialists that have evolved in our system of western medicine, you will not find a Doctor of Preventive Medicine.
Natural Pain Management
Life in today's hectic society is going more and more in the direction of fast food restaurants, sugar in foods you would never think should be there, trans fatty acids, preservatives and pesticides which we consume in large amounts every year. We even go so far as to invent foods, such as artificial sugars, which your body (in my opinion) does not recognize as actual food.
At-Home Relief For Ingrown Hairs
#1 Use Antibiotic SoapAntibiotic soap helps to clear up and prevent the infections caused by ingrown hairs. There are a number you can purchase on-line or at the drugstore, two are PanOxyl (with 10% hydrogen peroxide) and Reviva (which makes a whole line of hydrogen peroxide products).
Using Herbs to Relieve Hemorrhoids - Aloe Vera, Bilberry, Butchers Broom
To relieve hemorrhoids first look for ways to get your bowels moving easier and more frequently so they produce softer stools. I have suggestion ways, in other articles, to do this by changing your diet.
Home Remedies, Treatment To All Ailments By Herbal Homemade Remedies
Given below the list of Best Home Remedies for all common diseases and conditions. Try these effective home remedies for a few days and see the results.
How To Prevent The Flu
Can you prevent the flu? or is it just luck when you are virus free all year long! The flu is a highly contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Because this illness can be spread easily by coughing and sneezing, influenza epidemics are very common, especially in winter.
Aromatherapy
What is aromatherapy? Used for centuries, aromatherapy is known to have been utilized by the Egyptian physician, Imhotep; and Hippocrates. The first person to dub the term "aromatherapy, was French chemist, Rene-Mauric Gattefosse during the 1930s.
What Does The Label Vegan Mean in Bedding Products?
Vegan, or vegetarian, organic fills and batting, are natural materials free of animal ingredients and by-products (including wool, silk, fur, leather, dairy, eggs, honey, beeswax, and lanolin). Additionally, no animal ingredient or animal by-product inputs are used in manufacturing and processing.
Cure for Shingles
Shingles is a patch of painful blisters that appear on one side of the body. These blisters are filled with fluid.
Is Alternative Medicine Proven to Work?
The most common objection to alternative medicine from conventional physicians is that it is "not proven."What doctors mean by this is that alternative medicine has not been rigorously tested the way pharmaceutical drugs have been.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent Offers New Hope For People With Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia
Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from a condition known as fibromyalgia syndrome. This condition is characterized by widespread muscle pain, extreme fatigue and chronic non-restorative sleep disturbances for more than three months' duration.
How I Was Overtaken By Evil Eye Envy!
You are about to embark on a journey that only a percentage of the world's population has made. Throughout the journey, you will gain insight that will expand your horizons in the evil eye phenomenon.
Prevent Disease By Thinking Differently Than Experts
Did you know that all physicians and medical researchers have been indoctrinated with a flawed model of thinking dating to the 17th century?These "experts" cling to a Cartesian model of thinking.Cartesian refers to the philosopher Descartes who declared, "I do not recognize any difference between the machines made by craftsmen and various bodies nature alone composes.
How to Stop Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums can be one sign of periodontal disease, gingivitis, or other serious problems. Other symptoms like bad breath, toothache, and receding gums indicate poor dental health.
Everything Old Is New Again: Rebuilding Your Vision
Glasses, contacts, or surgery. These are the usual choices offered to those of us with bad vision.
10 Essential Food Safety Tips For AIDS Sufferers
Persons with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) areespecially susceptible to illness from food-borne pathogens.Because they're at higher risk for severe illness or death,affected persons must be vigilant when handling and cookingfoods.
How the Subconscious Reasons When It Communicates With You About Pain Relief
The subconscious is a strange creature. It doesn't know what day it is, and can't add two and two.
More Vegetable Constipation Remedies
Here are more constipation remedies using vegetables. Use vegetables every day for good health.
You Can Stop Biting Your Nails, Heres How!
Are you tired of being self-conscious about your hands and nails? I know exactly what you're going through because I've been there. Did you notice I said, "I've been there".
Natural Medicine--Finding a Qualified Naturopath
Naturopathic medicine is currently the fastest growing segment of the alternative health movement but not everyone practicing this branch of "natural" medicine is qualified to do so. I like to group naturopaths according to their educational backgrounds because I believe that the quality of your naturopath's education directly affects the quality of care you'll receive.