Most people at some point in their lives will experience back pain, whether in the low back, middle back or maybe even the neck. Many will eventually seek out a doctor, chiropractor, or acupuncturist only to feel minimal relief or to experience a return of pain between sessions.
Mindfulness and meditation techniques may not be the first thing that comes to mind when facing recurring pain, however, evidence shows they may be highly effective in managing pain. In my Yoga Therapy training at Niroga Institute, I’ve been lucky to train with Yoga/Physical Therapists who specialize in chronic pain management.
Pain is complex, but one of my main take-aways is that pain is not actually an accurate signal of whether our tissues are injured. Pain is the brain’s best guess as to whether you are in danger or not. Often people suffering chronic pain have highly aroused nervous systems that might be more likely to interpret incoming sensations as dangerous.
This in no way means that pain isn’t real, it remains an important output message from the brain. However, for various reasons your brain could be misinterpreting the incoming signals. This is actually good news! Since we know the brain continues to grow and change throughout our life, we know we also have the ability to change the brain’s function and output.
A highly aroused nervous system can be calmed by yoga’s mindful movements and breathing techniques. Yoga can also help increase chemicals like endorphins that help turn down pain signals.
A meditation practice that has helped me and many other clients I work with is one I call ‘Spread the Comfort’. If you already take group classes with me you are probably already familiar with this practice. The recording below is 10 minutes, but even if you practice a shortened version regularly I think you’ll find some compelling results.
With time, it will show you where you are unconsciously holding tension (sometimes throughout the whole day)…which is one of the common causes of chronic pain.
Leave me your questions or feedback in the comments below!