The current trend in medical science has been to move towards a biopsychosocial approach to patient management.
In this management of pain and other conditions that lead to deterioration of health, the medical practitioners not only focus on the physical well-being of their patients but also in enhancing the life of the patient from a social and psychological prism.
In this way, the overall well-being of the patient is achieved, which is the primary definition of being healthy. Meditation and its effects on promoting mindfulness have been a very active part of the biopsychosocial approach of treating a patient. Meditation for pain is a prevalent option among the patients, as well as doctors.
Knowing More About Pain
Pain and its management have always been a great challenge for all those people who are involved in the medical profession, be it the doctors, therapists, or other health professionals. The facts that are surrounding pain and its transmission to the various parts of the body from the brain are very ambiguous. Different types of pain are known to occur in the body, and all of them have varying reasons.
Amidst this uncertainty, the problem arises when the patient complains of pain in the body, but the root cause for that pain cannot be diagnosed. It has been reported in ample cases that this undiagnosed pain for which no specific treatment exists and that persists and lingers, has resulted in severe health conditions in patients.
Therefore, in such a case where forming a diagnosis for the underlying pain becomes severe, the doctors immediately provide symptomatic treatment so that the patient receives adequate relief from the problem, and complications do not arise.
The Search for Alternative Treatments
But providing symptomatic relief from any pain is easier said than done. Medical practitioners and even spiritual practitioners have proposed many treatment plans that can be effective for the management of pain. But, different types of pains respond differently to these treatments, and many don’t show any sign of improvement at all.
Therefore, people are going in for alternative therapies that can be helpful in the management of their pain. One such alternative for the pain management process is that of adopting a meditation routine. Meditation for pain is now becoming an active part of treatment protocols whenever the target of the treatment is to reduce pain.
Meditation for Pain
- Meditation for Chronic Pain
Meditation for pain comes handy when the patient is suffering from chronic pain. Meditation for chronic pain has reportedly shown good results and improvement. Chronic pain is the pain which has persisted in the body for a long time and does not resolve even on taking high doses of pain killers. In such a case, the mind has to be controlled so that the pain can be managed, and for this purpose, guided meditation for pain becomes very necessary.
Guided meditation for pain is the most crucial or rather the nucleus of the whole protocol, which is designed for implementing meditation for chronic pain management. This is the reason why most meditation instructors are learning the art of guided meditation.
Even popular self-help meditation apps such as the Mindtastik app have also incorporated this practice. Meditation for pain eradication is based on the principle of insight pain management. Meditation for pain management involves the development of mindfulness in the body, which ultimately provides pain relief as one of its better effects.
- Mindfulness and Pain
As stated earlier, the insight pain management is focusing mainly on promoting mindfulness. Although not much significant evidence is present that can assure the results from this guided meditation for pain management, there have been some pilot studies where great achievements have been recorded among patients who have suffered from vague pains such as those in fibromyalgia.
It was in these studies that it was also concluded that meditation for pain management could have a significant effect on improving the tolerance of pain, can help in decreasing the depression that one slips into when they have to suffer for a long time, and it elevates the overall state of mind.
- Meditation= Practical Awareness of Pain
Pain management meditation, which involves increasing the mindfulness in the body, aims at making the person more aware of their suffering. By saying “making them more aware,” we do not mean that it will ultimately cause the patient to accept or reject their suffering, but it’s just that mere awareness of their own body can help in fighting the situation better. Mindfulness, as part of this pain meditation program, will also help in making the patient believe that the pain has its phases, and there will be a phase where they will certainly feel good about their body. I
t is this phase that they have to maximize in terms of their living, and this way, the patient will learn to focus more on the positive aspects, and gradually, the negativity will be drawn out.
Reiterating what has been stated earlier, it has to be kept in mind that by becoming mindful through this pain meditation treatment, the person does not reject his or her reality, but still happens to accept it in a better way such that the day-to-day life does not get hampered just because of this pain.
Other Effects of Meditation on Pain
Proximity to the Emotions
Meditation, apart from helping us in becoming more aware of our body, also helps us in exploring the most profound emotions of our mind. When we know about the emotions that we experience, we gradually come to know about the actions that can trigger certain emotions, which eventually leads to either the aggravation or the remittance of our pain.
Therefore, an increment in the emotional resistance and a definite reduction in the tension that we suffer from while being patients of chronic pain can be achieved through pain management meditation.
Techniques of Meditations for Pain
- Walking Meditation
Meditation for pain can be implemented with many techniques. One of the most popular techniques for pain management by meditation is the Walking Meditation technique. In Walking meditation, the main aim is to enhance proprioception.
In simpler words, the person is told to become more attentive towards the movement of their body and the body parts in space. While walking, the person is told to focus on the sensation of the foot hitting the ground and be attentive towards the movement of their legs.
In this way, the whole focus of the mind gets shifted onto this movement of the body in space, while other sensations that are noxious in nature and trigger pain when they are sensed by the brain get blocked in one way.
As an integral part of any meditation program, focusing on the way you are walking and all the different sensations that can be felt during the process of walking can assist in the experiencing of many different types of emotions in the body as well.
2. Basic Meditation
The most basic form of meditation is the most helpful when it comes to pain management. By meditation. In this technique, the patient is first made to be attentive towards their breathing patterns.
They have to show full concentration on breathing in and breathing out primarily, after which many new activities are added to the treatment protocol such that the thoughts in mind drift away from the experience of suffering caused by the pain These activities can be the simple, daily activities which the patient has either forgotten or purposefully left because of the fear that performing them will trigger pain in their body.
In this way, meditation for pain also helps in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered from chronic pain for a long time. In the initial stages of basic meditation, you can listen and follow the motivational talks from an instructor to overcome the anxiety that you may face due to these painful conditions. These instructors can be in the form of self-help meditation apps and websites like the Mindtastik app and some others.
3. Mental Imagery
Mental imagery is a modern relaxation technique that has been included in the treatment protocols of meditation for pain relief. It is based on the principle that prominent mental processes can help in suppressing other sensory phenomena in the brain, one of which is the sensing of pain by the action of the neurological pain pathway.
In mental imagery, the patient is instructed about certain situations about whom they have to draw and imagine a picture in their mind. They have to do this consistently as per the instructions that are given by the instructor. In this way, the entire focus of the brain gets shifted and used in doing this mental imagery, while the sensations of the pain get side-lined and the patient transiently forgets about them.
How Meditation Controls Pain?
Like we said earlier, the presence of effective research on the proposed effects of meditation for pain on the management of sufferings is very scanty, and the interpretations in many of the researches have not gained much acceptance.
But as per some researches, the interpretation of this management of paint by the meditation processes is based on the principle that guided meditation for pain, on the one hand, suppresses certain parts of the brain while on the other hand, it strengthens the thoughts which are not involved in sensing pain.
Some other researchers have stated that meditation, in its usual form, helps in reducing stress on the mind and consequential to which is the reduction pain levels that are felt by the individual. But here, it should also be made clear, that all this research has indicated that the pain management by meditation is a transient process and that it has to be supplemented with proper medical and pharmacological assistance.
Cases Where Meditation is Useful
Among all types of chronic pain, those which are known to occur without any tissue damage in the body, and primarily because of psychological reasons, are the ones that have shown excellent signs of improvement through meditation for pain. Pain medication has been very successful in subsiding phantom pain.
Phantom pain is a purely psychological pain that is experienced by people who have gotten a part of their body amputated but are still complaining of pain in that same body part. Apart from this, medication for pain can be effective in cases of fibromyalgia, where the patient has a vague distribution of pain in the body without an underlying cause.
Along with this, even atypical pains in the body, such as on the face and the neck, can be treated with prolonged meditation programs. Ultimately the good effects of pain management meditation are only viable when they are practiced along with proper medical care. Pharmacological treatment with meditation has been successful in many cases where the pain is being shown to be of both pathological and psychological origins.
In totality, it can be said that meditation for pain relief is a reality. There are many aspects of pain management by meditation, and they have to be understood very well if you are willing to obtain the best effects. Along with this, it cannot be ignored that only meditation cannot be successful in tackling painful conditions. So, the essence comes out to be that the inclusion of meditation for pain can be a very successful strategy when you are finding ways to manage your pain.