Chronic pain is a widespread issue that continues to be on the rise in our society. Medical intervention can sometimes effectively alleviate chronic pain for many people. But for many more people, finding a long-term solution that takes a holistic approach to health and healing is proving to be much more successful.
20% of American men report feeling physical pain every day
Chronic pain is the number one cause of long-term disability in men in America
Men over 45 are more likely to suffer from chronic lower back pain
1 in 4 men with chronic pain is diagnosed with a sleep disorder
What Is Mindfulness?
The core of the practice is to observe the mental loop that’s on auto-play in the logical thinking mind. By observing this mental chatter, practitioners effectively dissolve any power it has over their emotional or physical state. In essence, their practice allows them to move into the present moment as the “observer” and simply notice what’s happening in the mind and body. This leads them to discover that they are not their thoughts and that their thoughts are just things.
Mindfulness Research Today
Mindfulness sounds great in theory and its thousands of years of existence seem to validate it. However, for westerners used to science-based medicine, the benefits of mindfulness for pain demand a more data-driven explanation.
Over the past several decades, scores of investigations and clinical trials from experts at leading institutions have shown that mindfulness meditation is beneficial for psychological and physical health. This is especially interesting regarding its effectiveness for chronic pain.
What Type of Conditions Can Mindfulness Help With?
From the hundreds of studies that have been conducted over the years, it’s clear that mindfulness is a versatile practice with benefits for emotional, physical, and mental conditions across the spectrum. It may be a beneficial practice for people suffering from virtually any condition associated with pain to help manage symptoms and improve life quality.
Some of the conditions that mindfulness has been studied as a therapy for include tension headaches, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, diabetes, and heart disease.
Researchers are clear that mindfulness meditation appears to be most beneficial for chronic pain when looking at various studies’ results. While it’s not a cure, experts feel that mindfulness is a safe, valuable form of self-care accessible to everyone.
Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
For anyone interested in practicing mindfulness to help manage their chronic pain, it’s important to have a realistic understanding that mindfulness is by no means a quick fix. In fact, its delayed results are what appears to make it effective. This is perhaps why some people are hesitant to begin the practice. It takes time and commitment, which can be in short supply for busy people.
Despite this, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine that won’t require immense sacrifice. Here are some tips on getting started:
- Consistent Daily Practice: Research has shown that just 20 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation practice is enough to improve chronic pain. Ideally, if you can schedule this at the same time and place every day, it will help you stay on track. Mindfulness is called a “practice” for a reason. It requires a consistent daily effort to notice any benefit.
- Be Easy With Yourself: Mindfulness, in its truest nature, is the practice of non-judgment. Most people get distracted, fidget, or become bored if they’re forced to sit still for 20 minutes. This is normal and not something to criticize yourself over. Go easy on yourself and remember that getting distracted by your thoughts is all part of the practice.
- Start With Your Breath. The simplest way to get started with a mindfulness practice is by focusing on your breath. Simply sitting still, closing your eyes, and observing the inhale and exhale of your breath for 10 – 15 minutes a day will set you on your way for a longer, more in-depth practice.
- Work With a Teacher: Many experts recommend working with a mindfulness teacher at first. This will ensure you’re performing it correctly and getting the full benefit of the practice. There are numerous options online as well.
Take back your quality of life by combining mindfulness and relaxation practices that can help you manage chronic pain and live a more life of more freedom and fulfillment.