Guest post by Anne Kelly.
Thankfully I don’t suffer from chronic pain, but like everyone else I sometimes get sick or injured. Before I learned about Mindfulness, I dealt with pain pretty much the same way most people do: I gritted my teeth and hoped it would go away soon. But that hope was usually joined by fear (What if it doesn’t go away? What if it’s something really serious?), regret (If only I hadn’t/hadda…) and frustration (Why now? Why me?) What I didn’t realize was that these thoughts and emotions were actually adding to the pain. How?
Well, what do we do whenever we’re in pain? We tense up (and grit our teeth). And what do we do whenever we’re feeling frightened and frustrated? We tense up some more.
So now we have two sources of pain: The primary source is the illness or injury and the secondary source is all that tensing of muscles and tendons, otherwise known as resistance. Mostly I wasn’t even aware that I was tensing, but the pain cycle had begun.
Mindfulness has taught me how to release the resistance and just sit with the pain…but more of that in a moment.
Firstly, what is Mindfulness? Well, the best definition I’ve come across is from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man reputably responsible for bringing Mindfulness from Buddhism to the West. And it goes like this:
“Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, on purpose, without judgement, to the present moment”
Or for those of you who like a more scientific definition, here’s one from F. Zeidan, et al:
“Mindfulness is simultaneously a process of cognitive control, emotional reappraisal or reduced judgment, and existential insight”
Jon Kabat Zinn describes it as an art, and like any art, is has to be learned. But even after 8 weeks, people are finding relief from chronic pain and illness by using mindfulness. And some even after 4 weeks.
But what do you learn from mindfulness?
I learned that all life takes place in the present moment. We can regret the past or fear for the future, but the present is what’s here, right now, and no amount of regretting or fearing is going to change right now.
And making a decision to pay attention to right now means I can sit with the pain, feeling and acknowledging it, but letting go of regret and fear and any judgements that go with all of that. And with the letting go comes a release of resistance and a relaxation of all that tension.
Until I’m just left with the primary source of the pain, and even that has eased because I’ve broken the cycle.
Mindfulness doesn’t cure pain, but it makes it easier to bear – and often eases it considerably. So why not try it next time your Creative Genius body aches?
About Our Guest Writer
She also has an online Mindfulness Meditation Course that’s super awesome AND she has discounted it all the way down to $10 for all you Creative Geniuses!