Monday, 7 January 2013

Dealing With Physical Pain -- Mentally

What could be considered more of a problem than physical pain? Yes, I guess physical anguish is at the top of what we consider as a "problem". Ranging from a sprained ankle to a bad headache to the more serious and permanent stuff, we do wholeheartedly hate pain. And of course that's totally natural, we should hate it because it is against our well being. But I want to have ways to deal with the pain. Since I know that this material existence will undoubtedly involve physical pain, I want to be able to deal with it.

I guess that the two most common ways of reacting to pain are: 1. pushing it back and 2. anger/frustration. None of these two reactions do us any good, if anything they can only worsen our situation. If I have a bad headache and don't acknowledge its negative effect over my well being and equanimity, I am seriously harming myself. Letting it destroy my day by trying to not think about the pain is no way to deal with it. Yet it is a tendency that most of us humans do have (to ignore the pain). The second category (getting angry with our pain) is also self-destructive. Lashing out on others because we are in pain or getting angry with ourselves and our bad luck will add psychological distress to the physical pain.

OK, so what are we to do with pain then? Of course I am getting towards some sort of self-healing notion. Using medication is obviously number one, but hey, we want to add to it and fill that gap that medicine doesn't fill. So let's see... Meditation, visualisation, breathing exercises and everything else imaginable are all in the picture here. I would use anything in my powers to be able to cure my pain.

AWARENESS - The single most helpful thing to have (which is also always at our disposal) is our good, old fashioned mindfulness. Observing the pain and acknowledging it from a dispassionate distance is utterly important, and always the first step of self healing. We have to locate and acknowledge the pain if we are to deal with it. And oddly enough, this is something we don't do in many occasions.

Giving  physical pain the attention it requires without trying to act tough or push it back can do miracles on its own, because it makes us more ready for it and willing to adapt to it. This procedure will limit the extent to which pain will influence us. Yes -- we can decide the extent to which our pain will affect us. By being ready for it, we can build up our defence, we can understand pain's subjective nature over our bodies & mind. It's like getting a tattoo; some people hurt a lot and some people just don't. It all has to do with how we face and how we even... welcome it.

VISUALISING & MEDITATION - This takes us to the next level. Visualising pain and also visualising methods to heal it is a big thing and a great method to get relief. Be prepared to employ your mind to heal whatever it is that's causing you trouble. Be ready to bring it on against your pain.

At this stage we can first locate where exactly the pain is as well as the exact feeling of pain. Next up, we can imagine it has a certain form, any form. Then we can start to slowly go around it and ask it why it is there, and why it wants to hurt us. This will do miracles if approached with honesty and seriousness. This type of high level mindfulness will help ease the pain. Repeated sessions of the above procedure will bring better results (you can do it as many times during the day, while doing other stuff and not just during 'serious' meditation sessions).

You can also ask for the back up of a higher power if that's OK with you. This is like bringing in the heavy artillery. If you have something/someone you believe in (i.e. Medicine Buddha), well ask them over to do the work. They will be happy to oblige and come to help you, because that's what they do. They help people. Imagine that their physical presence or their positive energy going over your pain, and dissolving it, calmly making it go away. Even if they don't do the job straight away, you know that help is on the way or at least that a source of higher power has acknowledged your pain.

CONCLUSION - Don't forget pain has a subjective nature, and we have power over how much it will affect us. After treating something with medicine, there is a lot we can do to relieve ourselves from physical pain. Starting from mindfulness and awareness of pain, we can move over to various forms of visualisation and meditation in order to heal ourselves. So be brave, and I hope you'll achieve and maintain the best of health!

P.S. I'm also posting a good article that I found helpful (it's from a Buddhist meditation website). Make sure to check it out!

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