Almost 8 years ago, my mum very kindly bought me a book on mindfulness and suggested it might help me manage my pain. At the time, although grateful for the gift, I was insulted and shocked by the insinuation that something so simple and ‘in your head’ could help with the very real and overwhelming pain I was in at the time. Little did I know…
Mindfulness is growing in popularity not only for people managing chronic pain or illness, but for everyone in everyday life. I now practice mindfulness daily and am trained in using it alongside my coaching. Here are 5 ways in which it can help:
You CAN learn to listen to yourself again
When we experience a lot of pain, we become hypersensitive to it, and we end up using whatever coping mechanisms and survival strategies we can to block it out. This goes for emotional pain too. Mindfulness helps you learn to listen to your body, thoughts, and emotions again. Once we listen, we can become more in tune to what our bodies/minds are trying to tell us. Listening to that and making changes accordingly can make a massive difference in the healing process!
You CAN lower your stress response
The act of mindfulness physically alters your state, thus bringing you out of ‘stress response’. When we experience stress for prolonged periods of time, it increases the levels of certain hormones and chemicals in our bodies which, if left high for too long, can have an adverse affect on our health. The practice of mindfulness brings those levels down, and if done daily, can even change our neurology!
You CAN give yourself time and space
We live in a frantic world. There is constant pressure to always be doing, achieving, winning. Mindfulness helps you create much needed time and space to replenish your energy and create calm. If you don’t think you have time to fit mindfulness in, mindful practices like mindful eating and walking can be done too. Mindfulness helps you become a human being, rather than a human doing. If you are limited by what you can physically or mentally do, mindfulness helps you focus on just being and letting go of that pressure.
You CAN learn how to let go of judgement, develop acceptance, and treat yourself with compassion
Have you ever tried to meditate and thought “I’m not doing it right!”? The practice of mindfulness is just about bring awareness back repeatedly. It isn’t so much about meditating the ‘right way’, it’s more about listening without judgement, forming an intention of letting go, and accepting the present as it is. For those experiencing chronic pain, these are completely alien concepts, but can be transformational!
You CAN learn how to differentiate what you can control vs. what you can’t
It’s easy to become frustrated when you have limitations. You can end up in a cycle of desperately trying to push through and worry about things that you can’t actually control. Mindfulness helps you increase your self-awareness and bring perspective. It isn’t about controlling even, it’s about noticing and gently forming intentions. It can be challenging to change those habits and ways of thinking, but liberating to let go of that control.
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